It’s estimated that one hundred fifty thousand troops, mainly U-S, British and Canadian risked or gave their lives to liberate Western Europe from German occupation.
Arthur Ospechook, of Ozark, was a POW during World War II. On Thursday, June 6, he explained where he was on that day in history.
It’s hard for Ospechook to believe it has been 69 years since allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France on this day in History, D-Day. He was 20-years-old then and all he recalls of that is what he from his prison camp.
“They couldn’t get the launching ships close to shore, they couldn’t get the launch. They were up to their necks in water, they had to go through barbed wire,” said Ospechook.
By the time bombers, ships and parachutes covered the coast at sunrise on June 6, 1944 Ospechook had already been held as a U.S. Prisoner of War in Germany for nearly two years.
He was flying as a Ball Turret Gunner in the B-17 ‘Silver Dollar’ in March of that year when German Troops shot the plane down. Osepchook was one of only two survivors of the crash.
“It was a miracle I got out of that bullet. Many people believe in miracles. Sometimes I don’t believe in miracles but that would be a miracle, to think I would get out of there. Something must’ve saved me, something happened, that I would be that lucky,” he said.
Hundreds of miles inland at a prison camp in Nuremburg, Osepchook head the message of victory over the airways and by word of mouth.
“We did get the guards to get a radio and sometimes they would fix a meal like cabbage and they had carrots,” Ospechook explained. “They’d have somebody come out afterwards and tell us about BBC. We knew about Normandy, we knew what was happening.”
When he was released in May of 1945, the tide of the war had turned against the Nazis, largely because of the victorious battle of D-Day. But that victory came at a cost. Osepchook remembers the pain of losing friends.
“It’s sad, I’m sorry. All of them are good… they’re all good. You stay together just like brothers and sisters. You hate to see that happen,” he said.
Today, Osepchook remembers the flood of hope that overtook Western Europe on this day in 1944 and the price that was paid in human lives.