Emotion and memories for Puyallup vet 75 years after D-Day

“It is a little quieter this time. Last time I was here the sea was bloody and it was on fire,” Loren Kissick said while standing on a French beach a quarter of a century after the Normandy invasion of World War II.

Kissick, who lives in Puyallup, returned to France last month to be part of the 75th anniversary observance of D-Day on June 6, 1944. The 94-year-old was part of a group called Forever Young Senior Veterans, based in Memphis, Tenn. There were 14 WWII vets in the entourage that visited all five D-Day beaches–Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword and Utah—and other historic sites of the largest amphibious invasion in history.

Kissick’s group and other veterans were swarmed by the international media and people thanking them for their service. There were numerous photo and autograph sessions, and Loren sat on a stage with 160 other WWII vets while being honored by U.S. President Donald Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France.

Kissick was accompanied on the trip by his daughters, Julie Kissick Malloy and Lori Hadley, and their husbands, Steve Malloy and Steve Hadley.

“It was an amazing experience filled with emotions, pride and reflection for all of us,” Julie said. “It was so incredible to experience this with my dad.”

Loren wanted to return to Normandy sooner but couldn’t because his wife didn’t want to travel, and he was unwilling to leave her. Married for 71 years, Loren’s wife died in 2018 from leukemia.

Loren was 19 when he landed on the beaches of Normandy as part of the massive invasion of Europe by U.S. and Allied troops that turned the war’s tide against Nazi Germany. Loren was in the second wave of the attack and vividly remembers that the water was red with the blood of killed and injured soldiers.

A private and the youngest soldier in his unit at the time, Kissick believes he’s the only surviving veteran on the West Coast from the 453rd Automatic Weapons Battalion. He was a machine gunner on a half-track personnel carrier.

Kissick served with the 9th Corps in the U.S. First Army under Gen. Omar Bradley on D-Day before being reassigned to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, which later fought in the Battle of the Bulge—of which Loren is also a veteran.

Though never injured in the war, Kissick was missing in action at the end of it and was captured by the Germans, who later released him.

Kissick was born in Kelso, moved to Tacoma in the 1930s, and has lived in Puyallup for 60 years. In addition to his daughters, Loren has a son, Gary Kissick, and five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.