Your Hometown News Leader is honored to bring you special coverage as we get ready to remember the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.
WDBJ7 had the honor of meeting a D-Day Veteran who lives in Roanoke. His name is First Lieutenant John Kessler.
The moment John Kessler was asked what D-Day means to him, he began to cry. "I lost hundreds of men in the service. Good friends, friends I went to school with, played football with, tennis, baseball, anything and everything. Now, I have a dim memory of those friends back during my early childhood. That's because we went and did the job that we had to do," explained Kessler.
Kessler has aged since the war, but his memory of that day is fresh. "D-Day means the liberation of countries that Hitler thought he would take over and do whatever he wanted to do in them," said Kessler.
When soldiers advanced to the beaches in Normandy on D-Day, Kessler was already fighting in Sicily, Italy.
Kessler volunteered for the Army National Guard at 17- years old in 1939.
After serving 13 and a half years, Kessler still questions why his life was spared. " I must have been looked after by God. He kept me alive for some purpose."
Maybe that purpose was to share his experiences with the world. Either way his hope is that the fallen soldiers on D-Day will never be forgotten.
Even today, Kessler goes to schools, churches, and other events to tell his story.
On Friday, June 6th, he will be honored at the D-Day Memorial with a special surprise.
Today, June 3rd, John turns 93 years young.
And from all of us here at WDBJ7, we'd like to thank First Lieutenant John Kessler for his service and wish him a happy birthday.