Eastern Kentucky Veterans reflect on the 78th anniversary of D-Day

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 American, British and Canadian soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy to help liberate Europe from the Nazis. The operation was the largest sea-borne invasion in history.

It has now been 78 years since that day, better known as D-Day, which is regraded as one of the most pivotal moments in World War II.

Few people can remember D-Day firsthand, but many veterans think it is a day that no one should forget.

“We sure don’t want these veterans to feel forgotten or the people they lost feel forgotten because they made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Jennifer Young, the Activities Director for the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center.

Historians say approximately 4,000 allied troops died during the Normandy invasion on June 6, and though there are few D-Day veterans still alive today, some people can remember the stories from that day.

105-year-old Oakley Hacker, a World War II veteran, did not storm the beaches on D-Day, but can remember the war. His brother, who also fought in World War II, died while fighting in Italy.

“Of course nobody knows what war was like that never was in one. Of course, that’ll never be expected,” said Hacker.

Korean War Veteran Levi Oaks Jr. said he knew people who served in the time of the Normandy invasion. He added he is happy to still share those stories.

“I’m glad to be alive, but I’d rather be in better shape than I’m in now,” he said.

Facilities like the Paul E. Patton Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center in Hazard give veterans the opportunity to share stories surrounding days like D-Day.

“One thing that is universal, that comes out no matter what is pride. They are very proud of the time they served, they’re very proud of their country and they’re very proud of everything they went through and done,” said Young.

The veterans said they want to remember those who lived through D-Day and share their stories so no one can ever forget that day.

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