Janet Moore experienced the journey of her lifetime this summer. She had the opportunity to travel with a celebrity on her first trip to France.

That celebrity wasn’t an actor or a rock star; it was her 99-year-old grandfather, Jake Ruser, who was returning to Normandy, France, for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Ruser was an Army medic with the 4th infantry Division and landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944.

The trip with her grandfather was made possible through Forever Young Vets, an organization based in Tennessee.

Moore, chair of the mathematics department at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, said the reception the French people gave the veterans amazed her.

“It was like traveling with Taylor Swift,” she said. “Everywhere we went, people stopped us. Hundreds of people asked us for autographs, pictures. We couldn’t walk five feet without getting stopped by somebody saying, ‘Please, can we get a picture with you?’”

Moore also was impressed with the gratitude of the French people, including the children who are taught from a young age to honor and respect the American soldiers and to be thankful for what they did during the war.

“All the people in France are so thankful to the American vets,” she said. “This little boy, who was probably 10 or 11, came up and he said to my grandfather, ‘Thank you for your service.’ My grandfather said, ‘Oh, thank you for coming up,’ and the boy said, ‘No, thank you because you’re the reason that I’m here.’”

Moore, who has taught math at Bishop Shanahan for 20 years, said her students had the chance to meet her grandfather the week before the Normandy trip and ask him questions about his war experience.

The students also watched David Muir from ABC News interview Ruser in their classroom. Muir has been interviewing World War II veterans and sharing their stories on World News Tonight, the show he anchors on ABC. He interviewed Moore and her grandfather on Utah Beach on June 6.

This was not the first trip back to Europe for her grandfather, who lives in St. Matthew Parish in Philadelphia, and will turn 100 in December. Moore said her brother traveled with Ruser to Germany last year.

“He went back to the Hürtgen Forest, where the bloodiest battle in World War II took place in Germany,” she said. “This time I was his ‘plus one.’”

Moore noted that her grandfather has been to Normandy before, and he was grateful that she was willing to join him to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“He really loved the trip, and I think he wants to go on other trips if he’s healthy enough to do so,” she added.

During the trip Moore and her grandfather also had the opportunity to go to the D-Day Experience, a museum in Normandy that offers visitors a sense of what the war was like for soldiers.

“It wasn’t like the museums we have here in the U.S. where there’s a lot of reading,” she said. “It was set up where you actually felt like you were in the scene of the war.”

Another part of the museum gave visitors the chance to experience what it was like to be in a plane during the war.

“There was a simulator there where we got in a plane and the windows of the plane were TV screens,” said Moore, a member of St. Elizabeth Parish in Upper Uwchlan. “The plane shook, and it really felt like you were in the war. You could see planes out the window getting bombed, and your plane shook when the other planes got bombed.”

One of the highlights of the trip for her grandfather was having lunch with current members of 4th Infantry Division. “They came to our hotel and visited with him for more than an hour,” Moore said.

An unexpected experience happened when a group of Belgian men came to their hotel dressed up in military uniforms.

“They just hung out at our hotel all the time because they thought the vets were so cool,” said Moore, who was surprised the men knew so many details about the veterans and their service during the war.

She added, “One of the guys said, ‘We know who they are, we know what they did, and we know what honors they have.’”

Jake Russer waves as he sits in an old WWII armored vehicle.

The Belgians also brought with them some old Jeeps and tanks that were left behind after World War II.

“They put us all in the Jeeps and tanks, and they drove us into town one day,” Moore said. “That was totally unplanned, but it was so cool because the vets got to ride in the old military vehicles. The [Belgian] guys were just so interested in anything the vets could tell them.”

For Moore, the highlight of the trip wasn’t the pomp and circumstance of the French and American ceremony commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery. The best part, she said, was the opportunity to spend time hanging out with the vets who ranged in age from 96  – 102.

“We had dinner with them every night, and they just shared their stories,” Moore said. “They shared what it was like in the war. I learned so much from them.”

One of the memorable stories the vets shared involved the precarious maneuvers they had to do as they got off the ships at Utah Beach.

“You had to go down a cargo net on the ship and you had to jump from the cargo net to the landing craft,” she said. “If you didn’t make it onto the landing craft, you just got caught in between and that was it.”

An emotional part of the trip for Moore was when the veterans were handed letters from their children, grandchildren, and friends to open during a Mail Call session.

“We had our family and friends write letters to the vets before we went, and the vets didn’t know about it,” Moore said. “Some students at Shanahan hand wrote letters or made cards on those last couple days of school and sent them over. My grandfather got hundreds of cards and letters.”

One of the main takeaways from the Normandy trip was the selflessness and bravery of her grandfather and his fellow veterans.

“My grandfather has always been the person to put everybody else first,” she said. “When I hear the stories about their bravery, none of it surprises me. Their bravery and their courage, that’s who they are, and they put everybody else first. They put their lives on the line.