A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Celebrating Memorial Day by remembering those who served; Kenton Library Durr branch on Saturday

Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember those who fought and those who lost their lives defending our country.

Doug Bickel

Father/son duo Gerard and Valentin Quiedeville of Normandy, along with Northern Kentucky veterans, will be discussing local Kentuckians who paid the price for liberty during WWII. The presentation will take place on Saturday, May 26 from 1-3 pm at the Kenton County Public Library’s William E. Durr branch, located at 1992 Walton-Nicholson Road in Independence.

The program is free to attend.

Gerard and Valentin Quiedeville will provide a unique perspective on the cost of liberty. That cost was borne throughout the world and will be told via the personal stories of Kenton County WWII servicemen who sacrificed during the liberation of France: Norbert Lankheit, Edward Hayes, Calvin Moon, BG Jesse Auton, Raymond McClure and Rudi Elliot.

To understand the price of liberty, one must know the history. On June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in order to liberate the nation from Nazi occupation.

Twenty-two-year-old USN-R Pharmacist Mate, Doug Bickel was there by noon that day, helping deliver critical arms and was prepared to assist with American casualties and transporting them back to safe harbors. His LST craft was assigned to the landing on Utah Beach where casualties were relatively minor, but Doug spent six months on Normandy’s northern coast. His son John, was born during Doug’s deployment.

Doug returned to Utah Beach in October 2015 to visit cemeteries, museums, and other memorials to the Allied Invasion. Like so many other veterans from WWII, Doug was welcomed back to Normandy as a hero at each stop along his tour. For one young Frenchman, Valentin Quiedeville, who was starting college in Caen, his encounter with Doug Bickel became a personal homework assignment. He reached out to fellow student Lorenzo Durieux to assist with translations. Valentin arranged to meet with Doug at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Doug’s five-day visit to Normandy has been archived with a collection of photographs taken.

Since 2015, two local veterans have spent time in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Germany to visit national cemeteries to honor all those killed in action.

Doug Bickel, along with son John, completed an Honor Flight from CVG last year. Doug currently lives in Ft. Thomas. For more information on WWII or other historical interests see this website.

The Library’s History Department is seeking local veterans to share their stories for its historical archives. To learn more about the veteran interviews, you can use the number of the department, 962-4085.

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