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Honoring Pittsburgh's Contributions To D-Day, From Tanks And Ammunition To The Soldiers Themselves

Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA
Glenn Kempf, 94, of Pleasant Hills served as a medic in the Army during the D-Day Allied invasion of Normandy 75 years ago today.

On today’s program: Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day in a special exhibition; Allegheny County is enlisting volunteers to report of the welfare of area bees; WITF’s Tim Lambert uncovers two Butler County soldiers behind an iconic WWII photo; and a 94-year-old former Army medic recounts his time on Omaha Beach.

Soldier & Sailors explores Western PA’s war efforts 
(00:00 – 12:30)

Western Pennsylvania had an impressive presence in the WWII Allied defenses. In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum is commemorating the efforts and stories of the Pittsburgh-area individuals that served in a month-long exhibition.

Curator Michael Kraus selected artifacts for the D-Day Pittsburgh 75 Exhibit, which he hopes offers a “man-on-the-ground” perspective of those who served. It’s on display through June 30.

Project Bee looks for county residents to track pollinator welfare
(13:50 – 17:50)

A global decline in pollinating insects has lead Allegheny County to enlist “citizen scientists” to watch bees. Project Bee Watch is a volunteer-based data collection program to track how plant pollinators are faring in Allegheny County.

The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple spoke with Point Park graduate student and volunteer trainer Keri Rouse about the project, which started last year. Rouse arms interested county residents with a training session to accurately identify pollinating insects and their plants of choice within a small data collection plot.

A famous WWII photo reveals the remarkable resilience of two Butler County men
(17:51 – 27:58)

Pennsylvanian troops represented a large number of those who fought for the Allies, including many who stormed the beaches at Normandy. WITF news director Tim Lambert tells the tale of Nick Russin, John Furka and others who helped create a now iconic image of horror and heroism the day after D-Day.

Army medic Glenn Kempf, now 94, never forgot the battlefield
– 39:25)

Among the 73,000 U.S. personnel that landed on Normandy was a 19-year-old army medic from Pittsburgh. Glenn Kempf treated many of the wounded on Omaha Beach 75 years ago. Kempf remembers his time serving and remarks on what the dwindling number of World War II veterans need from their country now. Kempf helped establish the first hospital on Omaha Beach, and was awarded the French Medal of Honor. 

90.5 WESA's Hannah Gaskill, Julia Zenkevich and Julia Maruca contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.