SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Honoring a local man who served our country, the Dickerson Park Zoo pulled out all the stops to give a 101-year-old World War II and D-day veteran a special tour of the 100-year-old zoo.

“It’s changed so much now. When I see everything, what they’ve done, the waterfall, the lake, how it’s grown,” said veteran Jack Hamlin.

Jack Hamlin served in world war two as a coast guard member on D-Day in 1944.

The zoo wanted to do something special- honoring the 101-year-old veteran with a VIP tour.

“He saw the cornerstone with his father’s name on it. He’s fed the cheetahs, of course, fed the giraffes. He’s met some of the reptiles, and toured the animal hospital,” said Dickerson Park Zoo’s PR and Marketing Director Joey Powell.

Hamlin was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest award France gave to allies for saving wounded soldiers on the beaches in Normandy.

“I was a rescue swimmer at Omaha Beach,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin shared stories near the waterfall named after his father.

“We did our job. That’s what we were assigned to do. And I’m in the water. I’m receiving machine gun fire all around me,” said Hamlin.

Hamlin went back to that beach decades later.

“I went back there in the harbor for a reunion on D-day, and I was sitting next to a German infantryman who was the man that shot at me on the beach, he was a rifleman, a sniper on Omaha Beach. We became friends. He said, Jack, it was a job I had to do,” said Hamlin.

“It’s just been magical. I mean, he is phenomenal. Just the contribution to our country. But on top of that, just how incredibly thankful he is,” said Powell.

“I had a great life. Nothing, nothing I regret. There should be some things I regret but I don’t regret any of them,” said Powell.