Local Vietnam veteran walks in the footsteps of the Greatest Generation

Vietnam veteran Jerry Kyser’s current assignment is to help get local World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials made in their honor through Honor Flight Twin Cities.

“I’m deeply embedded with these men that go on these Honor Flights,” Kyser said sitting in his home office decorated with the medals and artifacts of his family’s military heritage.

Earlier this week, Kyser returned from a 2,000-mile European tour that made stops along several WWII battlefields. His tour group of veterans stopped at Omaha Beach in Normandy on Memorial Day.
Seventy-five years ago Tuesday, thousands of Americans and their allies helped save the world during the D-Day Invasion on those beaches.

“It was a pilgrimage for me,” said Kyser, “my father was a soldier in Patton’s army.”

While Kyser’s dad did not fight in D-Day, James O’Kyser’s unit is forever tied to the ultimate sacrifices made on D-Day on those beachheads.

“They sent 50 percent [of my father’s unit] to be replacements for the Battle of Normandy,” Kyser said, “all those 50 percent were killed and the other ones started a new infantry unit.”

Seven decades later, Kyser got to see where his father and Allied Forces stood against the enemy, and returned in time to share his account on the day we remember D-Day.

“I know that these men died knowing they were doing the right thing. They freed Europe,” Kyser said.