SHELTON, Conn. (WTNH) — As the state slowly reopens amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Memorial Day ceremonies around Connecticut took on different forms this year. World War II veteran Jay Eugster, 98, of Shelton played a key part in the ceremony that replaced the canceled Derby-Shelton Memorial Day parade.

In what is normally a major ceremony, Eugster threw the wreath from the Derby-Shelton bridge – the act that kicks off the playing of “Taps” along the Housatonic River – in a ceremony that was much more low-key and private than it normally is, to respect social distancing requirements. The ceremony was organized by American Legion Post 16 in Shelton.

Russell Avery, a member of the American Legion in Shelton, was the first to play “Taps” following the wreath toss at 10:01 a.m. The playing of “Taps” runs from that location in Shelton up into Litchfield County and to the Massachusetts border.

Eugster joined the Coast Guard in July of 1942 at the age of 20. Nearly two years later, he landed troops on Utah Beach as part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, a crucial moment for Allied forces in the war.

Prior to D-Day Eugster had steered his landing craft in missions from Italy to Africa. Following his time in the European theater, he finished out his service in Bay Head, New Jersey – the state where he was born.

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