The men who saved the world

Local Normandy veterans share their stories 70 years after D-Day

By: Brian Louwers | C&G Newspapers | Published June 4, 2014

METRO DETROIT— They were ordinary men, called by their country to do extraordinary things.

The troops waiting in landing craft to cross the English Channel, the paratroopers packed into transport planes and gliders, and hundreds of thousands more soldiers, sailors and airmen waiting to storm occupied Europe weren’t going back.

And the Germans weren’t leaving peacefully. They had to be pushed out by devastating, overwhelming force.

On June 6, 1944 — 70 years ago this week — 156,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of northern France and parachuted behind enemy lines, supported by the largest concentration of air and sea power ever assembled.

The iconic moment in history, though mirrored in boldness and sacrifice by countless missions undertaken by Allied forces during World War II, stands as a stirring example of valor in the face of undeniable evil.

As the world prepared to remember the 70th anniversary of the historic landings and the bloody battles that followed, a group of local veterans, now in their 90s, graciously agreed to share their memories of D-Day and beyond.

The interviews, conducted in their homes, lasted 45 minutes to two hours.

These are mere fragments of their incredible life stories. Click on each photo to read more. 

Albert Seychel
Arno Whitbread
Charles Celusnak
Patrick Caruso
Paul Cannarella
Stanley Kokuba
Thomas Meagher
William Stafford
  Photos by Brian Louwers



• The new Arsenal of Democracy Museum, located at 22960 Industrial Drive West in St. Clair Shores, will host a special program commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 6. The museum will welcome a group of D-Day veterans for a reception and a brief question-and-answer session. All questions must be submitted at the museum before the session begins. The museum will be open to the public during the event, scheduled to run from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission is a donation to the museum in any amount. World War II veterans attend for free. For more information, call (586) 776-1976.

• The city of Warren will host a special ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day beginning at 3 p.m. June 6 at City Hall on Van Dyke, north of 12 Mile Road and east of Van Dyke. All military veterans, including those who served in World War II and on D-Day, are invited to attend. Cookies and ice cream will be served after the ceremony. Veterans wishing to attend were asked to make a reservation through the office of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts by calling (586) 574-4520. Arrival time for participating veterans is 2 p.m.