Hometown Hero: Dr. Lowell Harrison & Dr. Dero Downing

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor those who have served our country. Those who have given their time, their devotion and for some, their lives.

We spoke with two of our honored veterans in this week's Hometown Hero.

Dr. Lowell Harrison went into combat on his 22nd birthday, Oct. 23, 1944.

"It was probably the most unusual birthday celebration I've ever had," the World War II veteran said.

Harrison, a Fulbright Scholar, was hand-picked for the Army specialized training program.

He did his training in the tank corps and served in World War II.

"We learned there was a prisoner of war camp with a lot of American airlines in it so we disobeyed orders, went across the river and rescued them, and brought them back so we could get them home as quickly as possible," Harrison explained.

Dr. Dero Downing served in the Navy on the LST-515.

That is where he saved lives during "Exercise Tiger."

"So we saved 132 Army personnel that night--Army and Navy," Downing said.

On D-Day, Downing's Naval convoy approached the Normandy beaches.

"This great armada came, some say 5000, others 7500. And that was a sight to behold," he said.

Their stories are important to hear this Veterans Day as they reflect on their fellow men that served.

"They performed with great courage, determination and resolve," Downing added.

Since its Homecoming weekend, we'd also like to mention both of these veterans are Western Kentucky University alumni.

Dr. Harrison is a historian and scholar who has written numerous articles on his time in the armed forces.

Dr. Dero Downing served as the fourth president of Western Kentucky University.

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