SPRINGDALE, Ohio (WKRC) – The Westside Community Band plays one concert a year at Maple Knoll Village for the residents.
For decades, Kenny Bierschenk has directed. The retired music teacher will soon play the biggest notes of his career at a ceremony in France on the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Allied Forces' invasion of Normandy.
Bierschenk will play with the University of Texas Longhorn Alumni Band at various ceremonies and in a parade.
"We will be presenting the national anthems of all these countries and playing some other music,” said Bierschenk.
Including "Taps." Bierschenk won’t be playing his own trumpet, but rather one that’s been to Normandy before. The trumpet he’ll be playing belongs to World War II veteran, Richard Wank.
"He went in on the landing craft with the trumpet strapped onto his chest. When his boat was hit, everybody on his boat was killed except for him. He was the lone survivor on his boat,” said Bierschenk.
What happened next is equally as traumatic.
“He ended up on the beach and got shot a couple of times and went down on the beach. He stayed there for two days unattended, just lying there on top of his trumpet,” said Bierschenk.
Seventy-five years after the trumpet lay in the sand and covered in blood on the beach, it’s going back -- back to pay tribute to Wank’s fallen brothers.
"To know that this trumpet that was there on the beach for the battle and that it means so much to that soldier and that it's going to go back to that same beach on Omaha Beach and be used again to play "Taps" just like it was 75 years ago, it's an amazing story,” said Bierschenk.
It's really an amazing set of coincidences that put the trumpet in Bierschenk’s hands.
Wank’s grandson, Jeff Wank, found the trumpet and got it restored. It turns out the shop he used in Dallas was fixing an instrument for that Normandy-bound UT alumni band.
Together, they decided the trumpet had to go back for the anniversary, prompting Beirschenk to make a trip to meet Wank’s grandson in a setting where Bierschenk played the instrument.
"He said, 'I have to hear it again. You have to play it again,' and he was crying all the way through it; it was a beautiful moment,” said Bierschenk.
Wank received a dozen medals for his service, including a Purple Heart and Silver Star.