BUFFALO, NY - Last month marked the 70th anniversary of a battle that turned the tide of war in the South Pacific: the Battle of Okinawa. One month before that, the Battle of Iwo Jima had seared an indelible image of heroism into the American consciousness.
Those battles are significant for me and my family because my father, Walter Demler, was serving in the U.S. Navy there, and the extent of his experience was a mystery to us all, until just recently. Now, 70 years later, without hesitation, my dad can still recall the details of his service in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
But when when my sister, brother and I were growing up, Dad never told war stories. We knew he served in the South Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Thurston -- but that was it. Dad and I recently visited the Buffalo Naval and Military Park, and the memories came flowing back. For the first time, he agreed to talk about everything he saw and did all those years ago, half way around the world.
Watch the video player above to hear the details of my dad's experiences in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
May 8, 2015 marks 70 years since V-E Day, Victory in Europe, the day the Nazi's surrendered to the Allies, ending World War Two in Europe. Channel 2's Pete Gallivan brought us a series of reports titled Unknown Stories of Western New York: Return 2 Normandy about WNYers who contributed to the war effort overseas.