HAMPSTEAD, NC (WWAY) — There are many stories and many heroes on this Veterans Day, but World War II veterans are, sadly, a dying breed.
Bill Pepe was in one of the most infamous battles of the war.
“On D-Day I found myself on Omaha Beach,” Pepe said.
Pepe was front and center for some of the most fierce fighting of the war on June 6, 1944.
“I hit the beach at 8:30. I think the initial wave was at 7:30. You might call the situation controlled chaos,” he said.
Pepe says the battle did not go according to plan, and the men on the ground had to fight for themselves. He does not try to remember the war, but some things he cannot forget.
“Indescribable carnage, and the sounds; mostly screaming, people dying,” Pepe said. “You could hear guys calling for their mother. Mostly everybody when he dies calls for his mother.”
Pepe says the German army hit the US with heavy casualties, especially American officers.
“That beach was won primarily by green fighting kids who had never seen combat before,” Pepe said.
Pepe went into war as an engineer and was highly decorated for his efforts. He returned home to a successful career.
Pepe and his wife live in a comfortable home in Hampstead, but memories of fighting are never far away.
A flag flies in front of Pepe’s home. At the base is a plaque memorializing his son, who gave his life fighting for our country in Vietnam.
Pepe is proud to have served his country and done his job to secure our freedom. He has put many of his memories on his website. http://wpepe.110mb.com/