Morris County Resident Honored at 80th Anniversary of D-Day


Morris County Resident and WWII Veteran Chester “Chet” Kochan Honored by French and American Presidents in Normandy, France, on D-Day’s 80th Anniversary.

The Morris County Commissioners salute World War II veteran Chester “Chet” Kochan of Hanover Township, who was honored yesterday in Normandy by French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Joseph Biden on the 80th anniversary of D-Day (6 June 2024).

Kochan was one of four New Jersey natives among 48 American WWII veterans present at the ceremony. Drafted in 1943, Kochan served with the U.S. Army’s 83rd Infantry Division and earned numerous accolades, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, two campaign stars for Normandy and Northern France, Combat Infantry Badge, Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Morris County Distinguished Service Medal, and the Legion of Honor bestowed by the French Government.

Chester “Chet” Kochan with a photo of himself in his military uniform.

“On behalf of Morris County, we thank Chet Kochan and all the members of our military who selflessly answered our nation’s call, and who on D-Day and throughout the Normandy campaign put themselves in harm’s way to protect the United States, Europe and the world with courage and determination,” said County Commissioner John Krickus, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran.

At 98 years old, Kochan was only 18 when he landed on Omaha Beach, fighting through what was known as Hedgerow Country. Despite being wounded by gunfire and German shrapnel, and captured by the Germans in Saint-Malo, France, he was eventually exchanged for a German soldier. Kochan remained in the army until he earned enough points to be discharged.

The D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, marked a significant turning point in World War II. Allied forces, under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, launched a massive assault on the beaches of Normandy, breaching Hitler’s Fortress Europe. By the end of the day, 156,000 troops had landed, establishing a critical beachhead that marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

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