Irving Locker

Irving Locker recently turned 98. On June 6, 1944 Locker was one of the 156,000 soldiers to storm the beaches of Normandy, landing at Utah Beach. Six months later, Locker was a 19-year-old Staff Sergeant with the 116th AAA Gun Battalion of the 1st Army’s 7th Corps.

He found himself in the Ardennes Forest during the brutally cold winter of 1944-1945.

Locker said, “When we went into the Battle of the Bulge, they had us surrounded on three sides. We didn’t have ammunition, food, or anything. I had to send my own sergeant into our own mortuaries where our own dead people were and take the boots and clothing off of them to bring back.”

Locker played a part in the liberation of the Gardelegen Concentration Camp, about 100 miles west of Berlin, an experience he will never forget.

Once Locker reached Berlin, he took a swastika flag from a wall and had some of his men sign it. It is one of many mementos he still has from the war.

After the war Locker, made a life with his sweetheart Bernice. They have been married for 74 years. Unfortunately, they have outlived both of their sons. His wife Bernice said, “We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve always been there for each other. When we lost our sons, I don’t think either of us would have survived if we didn’t have each other to lean on.” She said her husband does not let tragedy define him.

Locker has made a life of retelling his story. He has made YouTube videos and continues to give Power Point presentations to anyone who will listen. For 77 years he has given lectures on the war and the Holocaust everywhere from elementary school classrooms to the White House. He returned to Normandy for the 70th and 75th D-Day anniversaries.

Locker said “Too many people have no idea what we experienced. It’s important to me that this story is told after I’m gone, so people don’t forget.”

Locker is 5’2” and during one of his talks, someone asked how he survived the war. Locker answered, “I stood behind a tall guy.”

Locker is a long-time member of JWV Post 352 in The Villages, Florida.

Volume 77. Number 1. 2023