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June 6, 2018

Lexington native Gayle Alexander remembers flying high above France on June 6, 1944, and seeing thousands of ships.

So many, he said, that he would hit two or three with his plane, the "Kentucky Kloudhopper," if he was forced down.

It was 22-year-old Alexander's first combat mission but far from his first flight. He got his pilot's license at 15, he said, and he spent a few years as a flying instructor for the Army, itching to get into the action.

On D-Day, he did. 

"It was a sight to see. You'll never forget it. Never," Alexander said. "It's just as clear in my mind today as it was on that day."

Below his B-24, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, fighting to take the 50-mile stretch of the coast from the German army. The invasion has been called the beginning of the end of the war in Europe — by the end of August, all of northern France was liberated.

Alexander's aircraft was one of roughly 13,000 to aid the mission. There were more than 5,000 ships involved in the D-Day mission, according to military history. 

Seventy-four years later, the image sticks with Alexander, now 96.

"I didn't know there were that many boats over there, or that many soldiers," he said.

He doesn't clearly remember seeing people, fights or explosions. He was busy flying, he said, on his way to his target: a bridge he needed to destroy to block support troops from reaching the beaches.

More than 9,000 Allied personnel were killed or wounded that day, but the troops managed to gain a foothold in France. 

Alexander Alexander Alexander said he was never frightened before or during the mission.

"I never had any fear of it," he said. "I knew that I could handle my airplane, there was no question in my mind about that whatsoever."

Alexander's team completed the mission successfully that day, and then went on another. He would go on to pilot 18 successful missions over the next several months.

Some, he said, were aboard the "Kentucky Kloudhopper." For $22, someone painted Alexander's vision on the side of the plane, right behind the cockpit and down the side.

"It's a picture of a mountaineer with a beard, holding the bomb in his hand and (his other) has got a jug of corn whiskey," he said, smiling at the memory. "That was my Kentucky Kloudhopper, I called him." 

But on his 19th mission, his plane was shot down over Germany.

Of the 11-man crew, seven survived — including Alexander, who was shot in the left leg, suffered a shrapnel wound in his finger and had his eyebrows singed off from an explosion. He also lost his shoes after parachuting, landing in his stocking feet.

He and the other survivors were taken prisoner by German forces and marched 550 miles in the cold winter months to a prison camp about 30 miles north of Munich. They were set free months later. When he was freed, Alexander had lost more than 60 pounds.

Alexander was honorably discharged with the rank of captain and earned several medals, including a Purple Heart and a Prisoner of War Medal. He was also later awarded the French Legion of Honor. 

He went on to get a degree from Ohio State, thanks to the G.I. bill, and become a veterinarian in Lexington. He got married and had three children, one of whom died as a teenager. 

He's older now, hard of hearing and forced to move with a walker due to trouble with his knees. His medals and awards are displayed on the deep red wall of his living room, each lovingly framed.

One has a photo of him from World War II with a title above it: Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame. Another holds a silver cross his aunt gave him before he left for the war.

"It'll bring you home," he remembers her telling him. 

"And it did," he said Tuesday afternoon. "The Germans never bothered it."

Recognition aside, Alexander said he doesn't consider himself a hero — even once turning down an invitation to a local event that was billed as "heroes" returning home.

The real heroes, he said, are the ones who didn't come home.

"I said I'd come as a pilot, but not as a hero," Alexander said. "... The boys that are buried in Germany, France, England and United States, they're the heroes. I'm just a soldier that did the job I was sent to do."

By Darcy Costello
Louisville Courier Journal



June 4, 2018

Body discovered on railroad tracks close to the exit ramps on US 23 to Interstate 64


Kizer D. SandersonKizer D. SandersonAccording  to the Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond, Kizer Sanderson, 27, from Louisa, Ky. was found dead on the railroad tracks close to the exit ramps on US 23 to Interstate 64. 

At 8:30am this morning Boyd Co. Coroner Mark Hammond sent out a plea for the public's help in identifying a body of the then unknown victim.

"His injuries are consistent with being run over by a train," Hammond said.

The Boyd Co Sherriff and KDP are conducting the investigation. It is unknown at this time if this was intentional act or something else.

The Boyd County Coroner‘s Office sought the public‘s help in identifying the decedent from earlier today. We need help identifying:

1. A white male that is 5’9 to 5’11

2. He weighs approximately 145 - 150 pounds

3. Very short blonde reddish hair

4. Hazel eyes

5. He was wearing blue jeans, a white t shirt under a gray t shirt, an Under Armour black baseball hat, and slip on brown work boots. 

6. His right arm is sleeved with skulls throughout.

7. He has the following distinctive tattoos:

A. KOTTON MOUTH on his right forearm Green Ink

B. a black spade tattoo on his inner right forearm

C. A woman looking over her shoulder that is on the outside of his right upper forearm.

D. A pot leaf tattoo in green on his right lower forearm 

E. The word KINGS tattooed in green on his lower inner left forearm. 

8. The age of the decedent is 25-35 years of age.


The death is under investigation. More details as they are reported by the KSP and the Boyd Co. Sheriff's office.


June 1, 2018

Some inmates sent to Johnson Co. Health Dept. for vaccine

PAINTSVILLE, Ky. -- Based on information provided to the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center from Paul B Hall Medical Center there has been a confirmed case of hepatitis A at the facility, administrator F.D. "Pete" Fitzpatrick said today in a press release.

BSRDC administrator Pete Fitzpatrick announced that one of the inmates in the 375 capacity facility has tested positive for Hepatitus-A which has been spreading in Ky. for months. The facility regularly holds in excess of its capacity using cots or temporary beds.BSRDC administrator Pete Fitzpatrick announced that one of the inmates in the 375 capacity facility has tested positive for Hepatitus-A which has been spreading in Ky. for months. The facility regularly holds in excess of its capacity using cots or temporary beds.


At around 8 p.m. on May 25th, 2018 an inmate who was exhibiting signs and symptoms of jaundice was examined by the nurse who after consultation by the facility's physician, ordered the inmate's transfer to the local hospital ER. The inmate was transported to Paul B Hall and later released back to the jail the same evening.

On May 29th the jail was notified by the infection control that the inmate had tested positive for Hepatitis A. Following protocol established by the jail's medical contract provider, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, INC. Of Peoria, Illinois, the inmate was put on medical observation/isolation and has received treatment for his symptoms.

Four other inmates that had been in contact with the infected inmate in question were transferred to the Johnson Co. Health Dept. for vaccinations as a preventative measure.

BSRDC along with its contracted medical provider will continue to monitor the jail population for further signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A and will continue to update the public of any future developments by way of press release.