A World War II veteran who survived landing on Omaha Beach in 1944 during the D-Day invasion at Normandy was honored by strangers at his wake on Thursday, December 17, 2015 after he died on the previous Saturday in Kentucky.
Warren McDonough, 91, never married and had no immediate family members in the area when he died at a Louisville boarding home and was then honored at Ratterman’s Funeral Home.
The woman who runs the Glenmary Home where McDonough was living, Lena Lyons, was worried there wouldn’t be anyone at the WWII vet’s wake so she made a plea to the public. Lyons told WHAS-TV McDonough deserved to be remembered because of what he did for his country. He was part of the first wave at Omaha Beach and earned a Purple Heart. But he never talked about his wartime experience–except for one time, she said.
He said he pretended to be dead until they all went away,” she told WHAS-TV. “He said, ‘And then I inched slowly across other bodies and I went across this one guy and his lips were moving and I got up close to him and he was saying the Lord’s Prayer.’ And he said. ‘I laid with him and stayed with him and prayed with him until he died.'”
Lyons said McDonough wrote his own obituary but did not include everything. “Nothing about the Purple Heart or his Medal of Courage, nothing, not even that he was in the Army, let alone that he went to Normandy,” she told WLKY. “He was a very humble man.”
After word about the wake spread by mouth and online, more than 200 people showed up. Members of the Kentucky and Indiana Patriot Guard were in attendance. McDonough was laid to rest the next day with full military honors at the Fairmont Cemetery in Central City.