LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Thousands of Americans were killed in the D-Day invasion; a day that marked a turning point in World War II. It also marked a significant moment for so many young troops.
A local man who fought in that battle says it’s when he became a man and though it took more than seven decades he finally has a tangible token to remember his perseverance.
“I was just a foot soldier, that’s all,”
Humble words from a man who was part of the D-Day invasion storming the beach in Normandy.
“During the landing, I caught a piece of shrapnel in my knee,” Onofrio Zicari, WWII veteran.
Fighting through that injury, he made it to the Battle of the Bulge months later.
“I said, nah, I’ll stay with my outfit.”
Zicari, or “Nono” as he’s called says during the chaos his wound was never documented. Even after it got infected, and another medic had to help, he kept fighting and the injury remained off the books.
Now, 77 years later, he is getting recognition for his courage.
“I finally got it. This is it here. The Purple Heart,” he said.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and an army representative presented him with the oldest military award and also named him October’s Citizen of the Month.
The father of six says it was his kids who pushed him to pursue the medal.
“They felt like I deserved it.”
A first-generation American, he says he was a shoemaker by trade then a milkman. When he moved his family to Las Vegas, he took up woodworking which is something he still enjoys.
“I kept at it. Kept me out of the casinos,” he said.
Zicari, who turns 99 in December, was drafted at age 19.
“For years, I tried to forget the war.”
But now he fondly remembers the friends he made and the ones he lost. A proud veteran; a proud American.
“America. Believe it.”