'It was a great day.' World War II vet shares his stories on Discovery Channel
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For many years, decorated World War II veteran Dominic Errichiello kept his war stories mostly to himself.
It wasn't until recently the Carol Stream man felt comfortable sharing his incredible tales about surviving the D-Day invasion at Normandy and being taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge.
Last June, the 92-year-old Purple Heart recipient opened up about the war and his favorite days fishing at his in-laws' cottage as he filmed an episode of "Operation: Fishing Freedom," which will air at 7 a.m. Sunday on the Discovery Channel.
The show was created after organizers spent more than five years taking veterans fishing through a nonprofit group co-founded by host Jay Garstecki. Called Take a Vet Fishing, NFP, the trips are used as a means of addressing the effects of post-traumatic stress on returning soldiers.
Errichiello said he was asked to be part of the show during a recent Honor Flight Chicago trip.
"They heard I was one of the more highly decorated veterans still around and asked if I wanted to go fishing. Then my son set it up," Errichiello said. "And man, getting in that fancy boat and going out to catch those bass and crappies was a lot of fun. It was a great day."
While on the boat, Errichiello said he and Garstecki discussed the third assault wave at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, when Errichiello had to hide under a pile of dead bodies to save his own life.
"Omaha Beach was the worst beach of the invasion because we lost about 2,300 GIs right there on the beach in Normandy," he said. "I may occasionally miss one of my five kids' birthdays, but I'll never forget that day."
He also shared the story of being captured with eight fellow soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge and being only one of two to survive.
"One of us spoke German and heard they were about to take us out to the apple orchard and get rid of us," he said. "We did the math and saw there were seven Germans guarding nine of us, so we made a run for it."
Near the conclusion of the war, Errichiello was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart in addition to other commendations.
He also has a hunk of shrapnel in his right knee.
"It's never bothered me, so I'm probably going to die with it in there," he said.
While on the fishing adventure, filmed last June 26 on Fox Lake near Antioch, Errichiello said he was grateful to have Garstecki as a guide.
"I have always enjoyed fishing, but I usually am lucky to catch a minnow," he said. "But on this adventure, we caught a couple bass and crappie. It was great."
He said the trip reminded him of weekends he would spend fishing with his father-in-law at nearby Channel Lake when he was a young man.
Errichiello's daughter, Roseanne Schroeder, said she'll be recording her dad's episode because it's on so early.
"That's spring-forward Sunday, so that's really 6 a.m.," she said. "So I'll record it and later in the day we'll all get together and watch it."