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Forever a hero: Local D-Day veteran shares memories 75 years after historic invasion

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 20:05:28-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Seventy-five years have passed since D-Day when Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy.

Fewer than a half-million of those who served our country in World War II are still living, and it's important to hear their stories while they are still with us.

We sat down with Bob Pedigo, a local veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps who recounted his story from June 6, 1944.

"It was a very emotional experience," Pedigo, 95, said.

At only 19 years old, Pedigo was a nose gunner and chief armorer in World War II.

"I was the youngest one on my bomber crew," he said.

And on June 5, 1944, his movie star officer called for a briefing.

"Jimmy Stewart was my briefing officer and taking us one at a time in a wheat field away from all buildings," Pedigo said. "I was standing in wheat up to my belly button briefed for the next morning. They did not say what it was, but we surmised and we were right."

The following morning, they were set to fly over the shores of Normandy.

"We went inland and bombed a big German encampment a bit inland," Pedigo said.

Hitting their target behind Omaha Beach, Pedigo had a bird's eye view of the Channel.

"The Channel was so full of shipping that it looked like you could walk across the Channel, stepping from boat-to-boat like stepping stones," he said.

More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 planes supported the invasion. Some sights still haunt Pedigo 75 years later.

"The guys on the ground, it was pretty bad," he said.

It's estimated 10,000 allied troops were killed, wounded or missing in action.

"That was the main thing," Pedigo said. "I could see them coming to shore and being shot. I couldn't help having feeling for them."

This was a pivotal day in the war, and Pedigo knew it.

"We know what a big job were were tackling and how much area we were out to free, and we sure did," he said.

Pedigo will forever be a hero. And so will the thousands of other who were fighting for freedom on and above the shores of Normandy.