Lehigh Valley

D-Day survivor from Lehigh County shares story

Roy Semprini's family was told he was dead while he struggled to survive in a Nazi labor camp

D-Day survivor from Lehigh County shares story

EMMAUS, Pa. - One local veteran has a unique memory on this 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

He survived the invasion, only to spend the next few months in a brutal Nazi labor camp.

It was the largest invasion in military history with more than 150,000 soldiers storming the beaches of France on June 6, 1944.

Roy Semprini, a scrappy kid from Emmaus, was one of them.

"I had no fear," he said. "Landing on the beach -- I know you saw pictures and movies or whatever. That doesn't even make half of it, to see bodies floating on the channel."

Semprini watched two of his sergeants and the rest of his company die at D-Day.

"It's one of the most horrible things to see a man get killed," he said through tears. "My best buddy -- I watched him get killed."

Semprini was spared, only to spend the next few months in a series of Nazi hard labor camps.

"They'd kill you; they didn't care," he said. "They'd kick you, beat you, whatever the hell they wanted to do."

Semprini slept in hay. His meals consisted of bread made of sawdust and soups containing horse heads. He was down to 120 pounds.

Semprini wrote letters home, but they never arrived.

The Army told his wife and family he was dead.

"That's when I just went berzerk," said Semprini. "I didn't know what the hell to do. 'How do i get out of here? I gotta get out of here. I gotta get out; I've got to get home and tell them that I'm not dead."

Semprini did get out, waging a daring escape with eight others in 1945, as the war was drawing to a close.

Today, Roy Semprini is 94 years old. He still lives in Emmaus, and he's about to celebrate his 73rd anniversary.


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