Lessons of a Lifetime from a World War II Veteran

OLD FORGE -- There are tributes to veterans happening throughout our area this week, and one school in Lackawanna County got a lesson that's rarer and rarer to hear firsthand.

A World War II veteran told his story of surviving D-Day in his role as a medic trying to save his fellow soldiers.

"It never goes away, the memories will always be there, but as far as being nervous, no, you did what you had to do and you did it."

Frank Feduik sat on a stage at Old Forge High School and told a story of heroism. He certainly wouldn't call it that but these students hung on every word from this 92-year-old former sailor from Jefferson Township describing his role in one of the world's most well-known battles  -- D-Day.

"Let me tell you, the Germans were terrific fighters, well planned, well everything; they were just good. They had been fighting the war for years. And we came in there, a bunch of kids like me. What did we know about it? We had to improvise. You improvise to save your life but you could only do certain things," Feduik said.

History lessons may have shown students the images of that day when our troops stormed the beaches of Normandy invading Europe.

But that's nothing like hearing from a man who saw the horrors firsthand, who, as a U.S. Navy medic, ran from victim to victim, soldier to soldier, trying to save them.

"To be truthful, I don't know if I could do it again."

Now, 73 years later, he doesn't have to but he's still playing a vital role telling his story to students who seem to realize this is an experience they should treasure and took advantage by asking questions.

"I wish I could go back in time, like a fly on the wall and see what was going on," said senior Brendan Mozeleski.

"I think what he did no one could ever repay him for. It's a true honor to be in his presence," said senior Santo Cerminaro.

Santo Cerminaro is following Frank Feduik's lead. Cerminaro has enlisted in the Navy, too, and got important inspiration from this veteran's story.

"You do what you have to do, and set your heart to anything, you can achieve anything you want in life," Cerminaro said.

A plaque was presented with plenty of applause, but the gratitude in this room clearly went beyond all that.