This Friday, June 6, marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, an allied forces invasion that took place on the shores of France.
Graham VFW Commander Mike Downey's uncle, Richard Rodgers, fought in the Omaha Beach section of the D-Day attack on Germany, and his father, Hollis Downey, flew missions over Normandy. Both men have since passed away, and Downey said that soon, there will be no more living WWII veterans left in Young County.
“We have one World War II veteran that's still with us, Henry King.” Downey said. “He was a prisoner of war under Japan. But he's getting real frail. Unfortunately, we're losing these guys faster than we can really honor them. They call these guys The Greatest Generation, and when you think of the way they came up, through The Great Depression, I guess being prepared for what they would have to do.”
The generation of soldiers that fought in WWII was asked to save the world from tyranny, Downey said.
“These guys are my heroes,” he added. “And I don't have many heroes, but any WWII veteran to me is my hero.”
Reuben Peitz remains one of the last living WWII veterans in Graham. Though he mainly served in the Philippines and New Zealand, he understands how important D-Day was to the outcome of the war.
“My heart goes out for all the people that couldn't make it back, and all those that we lost,” Peitz said. “And finally, there was an end to it all, and we could all come back to our families and live a normal life.”
Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.