KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Dan Fedynich flew 33 missions as a ball turret gunner on a B-17 bomber during World War II. One of those missions happened on June 6, 1944.
And 75 years later, the KCK man can still recall precise what he saw on that day, better known now, of course, as D-Day.
“And you could see boats, boats, boats,” Fedynich said. “Seemed like little boats, big boats, all kinds of boats. And you couldn’t realize that this is all crowded, and this is going somewhere.”
Despite taking routinely taking enemy fire in the ball turret position, on the belly of the plane, Fedynich said the D-Day invasion was one of his most uneventful.
He had a bird’s eye view of a battle many believe saved the free world.
“They were shooting at the boats and those that were being disembarked and not so much the airplanes,” Fedynich said. “Clouds would open up just a bit and you got a peak of boats going everywhere, and that’s about the only thing you could see on D-Day.”
Fedynich still has shards of German cannon shells, known as flak, that routinely ricocheted around his crew’s bomber, nicknamed the Homing Pigeon.
“And if it hits you, depends on where it hits you, you might live or die,” he said. “The copilot had his oxygen mask cut off one time with a piece of this. It just went, ‘Woosh!'”
The 93-year-old veteran will be honored at Thursday’s Royals game to mark 75 years since D-Day. Fedynich said he’s still overwhelmed by the extreme sacrifice, and sense of service, on that historic day.
“It was for all of us, not just for me, and saving my skin,” Fedynich said. “It’s for everybody else, that we’re still alive and not under the pressure of European dictatorship.”