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Former Newport mayor describes being prisoner of war
NEWPORT, Ky, (Adam Clements) -- Memorial day is a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country.
One local veteran who saw many of his fellow soldiers do just that in World War II.
Anyone with a knowledge of local history, particularly in Newport Kentucky, has heard the name Johnny Peluso. He's been a fixture in Newport for more than ninety years. He was the mayor there from 1960 to 1982. He's considered by many to be a hero.
Peluso answered the call of duty when World War II began. He was just seventeen years old when he stormed the beaches of Normandy.
He also has the distinction of being a surviving prisoner of war. He was captured by the Germans and spent eleven and a half months in a prison camp before being rescued.
Peluso still has vivid memories of that time and just how close he came to being killed. "We was surrounded, over two thousand in just one building, there's no way we could have gotten out of there. And that major, the German, I remember this, he told me Hitler gave the order to kill all the American prisoners, that's why we were in a boxcar, to be gassed and and thrown in the ovens."
That train Peluso was on, was derailed by another train that was being operated by American soldiers and he was freed from control of the Germans.
Peluso celebrated his ninety-third birthday Sunday. He's lived in Newport his entire life.