Local WWII vets share their memories of D-Day - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local WWII vets share their memories of D-Day

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's sad to say that American history is dying.

About 555 World War II veterans pass away everyday, but on Friday, we found some of these brave men who shared the terror and triumph of D-Day from the ground in 1944.

For Lloyd Heller, 70 years could have been yesterday.

"I was in the Army three years, five months and six days," said Heller. "I got three battle stars and a Purple Heart."

"Our company, 68th Tank Battalion 6 Armored Division, was in England, and we were watching the planes go over, dropping the soldiers off," he said. "It lasted all day...history is history, and history was made in 1944, D-day."

On this day in 1944, 160,000 troops rained down on the beaches of Normandy, France to fight Nazi Germany. The battle undoubtedly led U.S. and allied forces to victory in World War II. Heller, was a young tank gunner at the time, a corporal, who crossed the English Channel in a supporting wave of soldiers six weeks after D-Day.

"July -- July of 1944," Heller said.

And at 98, he still remembers

"Our tank got hit twice in eight hours," Heller said.

Every battle. Every scar.

"It was like a big explosion," Heller said. "I know it scared the devil out of us. I couldn't walk. I was in the hospital for seven months."

"I was discharged the day after the war ended -- August the 16th of 1945," he added.

The world is pausing to reflect on D-Day's 70th anniversary, and honor veterans like Lloyd Heller.  Friday he flew with 30 Kentucky veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II memorial -- a time for each solider to share their memories..

"I got up there there was nobody," said Arthur Peer, a WW II veteran. "I was the only airplane in sight. That's when I happened to see this B-17 and figured he knows where he's going...I hoped he knew what he was doing."

You cherish these moments because heroes from this era are quickly fading away. Sixteen million survived World War II. Only one million live today.

"You're fighting a war for the world, not just your country, you know," Peer said.

Their stories are our history -- and for Lloyd Heller, too important to forget.

"It's something I hope we never have to go through again," he said.

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