Local WWII Veterans Remember D-Day - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Local WWII Veterans Remember D-Day

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Seventy years ago the United States joined the Allied attack to liberate Europe from Adolf Hitler's grip.

Ray Gawronski of Carson City was an engineer onboard a B-24 bomber stationed at Tibenham Air Base during D-Day and was assigned to the very first air strike.

"We knew something big was up," Ray remembers. "But we didn't know what. We just got up and about our regular morning routine and then at the briefing we learned what was ahead. Our target was Omaha Beach but inland a bit where we had to find specific intersections of roadways and bomb them to cut off access to the beach. I remember my first glimpse of the beach and the ocean was so full of boats you could have walked across them!"

Syl Ferdiani of Sparks was en route about then on an amphibious craft.

"We were woken up about 4 in the morning and deported for Normandy. The ocean was so rough that a lot of guys lost their weapons overboard. And when they opened the ramp I remember seeing an amazing number of boats and the beach just crawling with equipment and the sea was red with blood and bodies floating around us from the day before. It was terrible."

Ferdiani made it to the beach carrying 70 pounds of equipment on his back and keeping his rifle above his head. "As soon as we hit the beach we scattered," he remembers. "A lot of men were lost that day. I was lucky to get out alive."

He brought home with him some incredible memories and a frame of medals including two purple hearts. He and Ray know they were lucky.

"I can't believe that was 70 years ago and that I made it home and that I'm still around!" Ray said today.

Written by Erin Breen

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