When the USS Corry, an American Navy destroyer bombarded by the Nazis, sank off the coast of Normandy on D-Day in 1944, its executive officer, the second-in-command, crowded as many rescued sailors as he could on a whaler used as a lifeboat. Then he saw a body floating close by.

He told his men to tie it to the side of the boat. There was no more room on board.

He didn't know whether the sailor was alive in the cold English Channel waters, but he felt compelled to pick him up.

The unconscious teenager tied to the lifeboat was Chet Furtek of Philadelphia. He awoke, with his face covered by a blanket, on a rescue ship. He thought he had died and gone to purgatory. Heaven, he knew, was out of reach. But he soon found himself alive, surrounded by other wounded and deceased sailors and soldiers being transported back to England as solemn music played from a loud speaker.

Furtek is now 93. And the story of his rescue, which he described as a miracle, has not been forgotten.

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(US Air Force)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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