Two Valley veterans recall storming the beaches of Normandy - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Two Valley veterans recall storming the beaches of Normandy

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Friday marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  150,000 Allied troops risked their lives in Nazi-occupied France that day.
Over 4400 were killed on D-day alone.

Local WWII veterans say it was a case of good versus evil.  Thousands of men from the region answered that call to defend the world from the Nazi's.  And D-day's bloody amphibious assault turned the tide of the war.

John Bistrica, 91, of Youngstown recalls what he heard the day he stormed the beaches of Normandy. "You could hear the shells coming from the battle wagons you swear you could reach up and touch them and then there were six barrel mortars that sounded like roaring lions," says Bistrica.

Ralph Russo, 96, of New Castle was part of the second wave of army men to arrive. "I was a mortar gunner.  I sat up to rest behind a big tree while I was sitting there some sniper spotted me and hit both legs," says Russo.

He laid there for five days until he got decent medical attention.  Even then he got gang green but fortunately managed to keep his legs.

Russo just recently opened up to his large family about the horrors of that day.  He says people who serve their country keep America strong for everyone.

"We've got a beautiful life here compared to a lot of other countries. I credit all these soldiers going up there I got to thank them to," says Russo.

John says memories of the war have lived with him every day of his life.
"How could I forget it with what I seen. I saw Germans with their heads chopped off and GI's in bad shape. How could you forget the war?"

Years from now, even when America has lost all of it's WWII veterans, we will never forget their sacrifices. 

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