D-Day: In honor of Walter Victor, American hero and legend of the Braves Atlanta
Today, June 6, is an important day in American history, as it marks the 76th anniversary of D-Day. On this day in 1944, American forces invaded northern France via Normandy, this which advanced the efforts of the Allies towards the eventual surrender of Germany. Among those who attacked these beaches on D-Day was a young man from Dupont, Pa. Named Walter John Victor.
Walter Victor was a decorated war hero who received four Bronze Stars, eight Combat Stars, and one Silver Star in recognition of his bravery. In addition to his exploits on D-Day in 1944, Victor was one of the American soldiers who helped liberate the Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany on April 29, 1945. This camp had been in operation since 1933 and had sheltered around 32,000 deaths, but that marked the end of those horrific conditions, although the effects would be felt for many years thereafter.
In the aftermath of World War II, Walter Victor became interested in photography and eventually applied his new profession as a team photographer for the Atlanta Braves in 1966. Victor would remain with the organization for 40 years before finally retiring in 2006 at the age of 89. Upon retirement, twelve of Victor’s photographs were housed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Despite all his exploits and war medals, Walter Victor was a caring man. I had the pleasure of meeting Victor when I was a child in 2000, after my father met him in a hairdressing salon. Walter explained that he worked for the Braves, but how much he contributed was never clear until he took my family to the field before a game that season. We walked out of the field team tunnel onto the straight field line to be greeted by Tom glavine, who was warming up to start the match. At this point it became very clear that Victor had the freedom to do whatever he wanted when he set foot inside Turner Field and we were with us for the ride.
Victor has made it possible for my family to enjoy baseball in a way that most fans can never appreciate and I will be forever grateful to him. But beyond meeting players and walking the pitch before the game, Victor has become a friend we all hold dear. He was walking around Turner Field like he owned it, and no one would dare tell him otherwise, but he made sure everyone with him was having fun. Even at over 80, Victor was far more concerned with the well-being of others than with his own. The Braves also recognized him, commemorating their longtime photographer with a nameplate that read “Walter Victor Camera Well” in the space next to the Braves dugout canoe.
Walter Victor passed away in 2014, but his name will live on in the hearts and minds of history buffs and fans of the Braves forever. His presence at the Braves games brought him into the lives of many, and he was proud of his career, but Victor was always willing and ready to talk about war. He sacrificed so much while serving in the military, and his bravery on that day in 1944 helped preserve a way of life for generations around the world.
Memorial Day is a celebration of those who give their lives, but D-Day has always had a special meaning for those who knew Walter Victor. The assault on the beaches of Normandy claimed the lives of many young men alongside Victor, and for them we should be equally grateful, but today I felt compelled to write something in commemoration of him. ‘a man who was part of my life and a legend behind the lens. for the Braves.