KC WWII sailor recalls Allied sacrifices on D-Day

Dan Weinbaum
June 06, 2019 - 6:45 am

Courtesy: National Infantry Museum - DoD - Sipa USA

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Kansas City, MO - Seventy-five years after D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, a local WWII veteran remembers the fight against fascism.

John Keitel is among a group of American military veterans who meet at a restaurant each week in Mission.

"I went into the service out of high school in 1944," said Keitel, who was 17 when he joined the Navy.

Only days after Keitel's entry into the military, thousands of allies stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. While Keitel was on his way to fight in the Pacific, he was well aware of D-Day in Europe.

"Oh yes we were well informed, nothing like now, but we had the radio," Keitel said.

D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion ever, utilizing 156,177 fighting men on almost 7,000 vessels. It began the Allied liberation of Europe from the Nazis, who surrendered the following May.

"We know it was necessary," Keitel said. "It's tragic that so many guys, people, died. But that's a part of history. We just have to move on."

Keitel played his part. The following summer, in 1945, he was on a ship that was headed for a showdown with Japan.

The atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the ship was sent back to its home port in California.

"We were filled with patriotism and we were going to conquer the world, and did a pretty good job of taking care of things," Keitel said.

World leaders have been gathering this week in Europe to commemorate the D-Day invasion.

There have been large gatherings with vintage aircraft flyovers, military bands and ornate presentations.

Among the people buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France are 9,380 American service members.

Keitel said he would probably remember D-Day by visiting a cemetary.

 

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