BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Jack Mercer, 88, is a member of what’s often called the “greatest generation.” The Navy veteran was in Normandy 70 years ago when Allied forces stormed the beaches.
He says he still hear the sounds and see the horrific sights of D-Day.
“All I saw was dead bodies in the water. It was frightening.”
Back in 1943, before the Normandy invasion, Mercer, a Canisius graduate, said he had to accept the dark reality.
“You were drafted in 1943, you didn’t have a choice.”
Mercer was a Navy medic. He says he was scared but ready for the largest amphibious invasion in history, which was delayed at first.
He explained, “First it was canceled because of weather. It was terrible.”
He joined the more than 150,000 U.S. troops and their allies to fight to help free Western Europe from German Nazi Control.
“I accepted it. Had a couple of close calls. I was scared.”
On this day, he hopes everyone will take a moment to simply say ‘thanks’ to the brave service members who fought for freedom.
“As an American we’re pretty free. I’ve been to many different foreign countries and I still love the good old USA. I’ve raised my family to feel that way and they do, and they constantly thank me.”
On Saturday, Mercer will join 25 other WWII veterans and their companions on Honor Flight Buffalo’s 15th mission to the National WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.
Everyone is invited to greet the veterans Saturday night when they return to Buffalo at about 9:35 p.m.