Former WDBJ7 Anchor Keith Humphry reflects on D-Day anniversary coverage

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) "There is no question there was no greater story for me in my forty year career."

For Keith Humphry, that story started with two men, two of the Bedford Boys who survived D-Day.

Ray Nance, a Lieutenant, who wondered why he had been spared, while so many others died.

"They never came home to get married and have children, families," Nance told Humphry in 1994. "They were denied that. Why?"

And Roy Stevens, who lost his twin brother Ray on D-Day.

"He said I won't get back here," Stevens explained. "And I got after him for saying it. He was right."

"The thing that strikes me over and over again from my memory and looking back on it," Humphry said recently, "is to a man every one of them knew, after the fact, that if they survived, it was the luck of the draw."

Humphry and WDBJ7 photographer Scott Ayres set out to tell their stories, and to hear from those who suffered here at home as the extent of Bedford's loss became clear.

Elizabeth Teass was the town's telegraph operator in 1944. She spoke with Humphry 50 years later.

"The Roanoke operator typed to me, she said, we have casualties," Teass told Humphry. "And then I knew that they were coming," she said of the telegrams, "and one just repeated the other."

Humphry and Ayres would also travel to Normandy with D-Day veterans including Roanoke's Bob Slaughter who spearheaded the push for the National D-Day Memorial.

"The day we were on Omaha Beach with all of the troops from Virginia, was like nothing I have ever experienced," Humphry said.

"I said in a liveshot from the cemetery, 'Suddenly, all of these men seemed 19 again."

"They were buoyant, and jubilant and youthful," Humphry said. "They went hallelujah, we survived. And we're back to celebrate that. And it was fun to watch."

25 years later, the emotions of those moments linger.

"Bob Sales was talking about what a great day it was, June 6, 1994," Humphry said. "We've had a great day of patriotism. We've honored these dead. Now, we're going home. And they are staying here. It was touching to him, and to me at the time. And still."