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

Published on June 06, 2024

Chester “Chet” Kochan Recognized for WWII Service

WWII Vet Chet Kochan.jpg

There was an error in the press release distributed yesterday with regard to the Veteran's place of residence. While his postal address is Morris Plains, he lives in Hanover Township. We apologize for the error and appreciate you updating any information you have shared.

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

He was one of four New Jersey natives among 48 American WWII veterans at the ceremony.

WWII Vet Chet Kochan 2.jpg

Drafted in 1943, Kochan served with the U.S. Army’s 83rd Infantry Division. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, two campaign stars for Normandy and Northern France, Combat Infantry Badge, Good Conduct, WWII Victory Medal, Morris County Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Honor, bestowed by the French Government.

“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.

Kochan, who is 98 years old, was only 18 when he landed on Omaha Beach and began fighting what was known as Hedgerow Country. He was shot and then injured by German shrapnel. Captured by the Germans in Saint-Malo, France, he was eventually exchanged for a German soldier. Despite being wounded and captured, Kochan stayed in the army as he had not earned enough points to be discharged.

On June 6, 1944, after almost five years of war, Allied forces under the overall command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower landed on the beaches of Hitler’s Fortress Europe.

Paratroopers and glider-borne infantry were the first to touch French soil in the early morning on the eastern and western flanks of the invasion area. Several hours later, as the sun began to rise, an enormous armada of ships disembarked a cargo of fighting men onto five beaches across a 50-mile front of the Normandy coastline.

By day's end, 156,000 troops had landed and a tentative, but strengthening beachhead was established. A door in Hitler's much-vaunted “Atlantic Wall” had been kicked open.



Photo 1: Chester “Chet” Kochan

Photo 2:  A young Chet in his military uniform.

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