Saluting a local WWII hero on July 4th

Mr. Larry at the Carolina Opry

Independence Day is a chance for us to remember the men and women who fought hard for our country's freedom.

This includes local veteran, Larry Diebel, 88, who is called 'Mr. Larry' and 'Pop' by his fellow coworkers.

Diebel has been a dedicated employee at the Carolina Opry for 18 years and is known for his infectious smile and hard work ethic.

"He does everything. Larry gets in here usually around 4:30 every day, 6 days a week. He's a hard working fellow," said Karen Schaeffer, an employee at the Opry.

More than 65 years ago, he wasn't known as "Mr. Larry", but rather as Sgt. Lawrence Diebel.

He served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was among the troops who landed on the beaches of Southern France on D-Day.

Diebel remembers just barely making it out alive.

"A mortar shell came from the other side of the mountain and landed about ten feet from me. It was a dud. I was blessed," Diebel said.

However, some of his friends were not so blessed.

"I think of my comrades who didn't make it home, and I saw them get killed," said Diebel.

On a day where we celebrate our freedom, he remembers his comrades who lost their lives fighting for it.

Diebel also thinks back on the memories and friendships that he has made at the Carolina Opry.

"The employees here, we are like a big family, and it's so nice," Diebel said.