KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They’re known as being defenders of freedom across the globe. So on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, three local World War II veterans got the royal treatment at the K.
Everyone wanted to get involved. That’s what one of the veterans said he remembered about young people faced with involvement in WWII.
Back in 1944, metro residents Dan Fedynich, John Roberts and Chuck Wittig served in the U.S. Army.
Fedynich, who’s now 93 years old, was an engineer and a gunner who flew missions over Europe. He’ll never forget the morning of June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded German-occupied France.
On Thursday, 75 years after Operation Overlord, the Kansas City Royals honored the three local heroes for their brave contributions.
“This was an opportunity for me to contribute whatever talent I and training I had to free people,” Fedynich said of his reason for serving.
More than 9,300 American soldiers didn’t survive Normandy, and many of them were drafted before they had even started families or chosen careers.
“I was fresh out of college. I was 19 or 20, something like that,” Wittig said.
Moments before Thursday’s ballgame, players took a moment to greet the WWII veterans.
“I came fresh from college. In fact, Pearl Harbor was my freshman year, so we all went to war,” Wittig said. Patriotism was fantastic. It was cloud high. Everybody wanted to do something to serve, and we all did.”
Fedynich said he hopes Americans appreciate what U.S. soldiers did 75 years ago — and that it continues to lead to peace, even the domestic variety.
“This contributes to an overall love for one another and getting along, which I think everybody would look forward to,” he said.
Together, the three men carry nearly 250 years of memories. Much of it was shaped by their military service and their unselfish drive to keep the world free.