BEATRICE – Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen recognized Wednesday as Victory Day, the 79th anniversary of the victory of allied forces that ended World War II.

Pillen held a news conference where he signed a proclamation in observance of Victory in Europe Day, in Nebraska. On the same day, officials announced a new program to recognize living Nebraska veterans who served in World War II.

"It's unbelievable, but almost 140,000 Nebraskans served in World War II....with right at 800 still living with us, today."

Pillen said a special recognition medal has been created to recognize those Nebraskans who served during World War II. "On the front of it is says Celebrating 80 Years of Victory....and includes imagery of our state and our famous sower....on the back is Lady Victory and it reads, on behalf of a grateful state, thank you for your service."

Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs Director John Hilgert says the goal is to honor as many as possible of the 800 Nebraskans still living who served in World War II. Veterans eligible must have served between Dec. 1, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946. They must be a current resident of Nebraska or having been a resident when they entered the service.

"Our plan and our goal and our hope, is to present these medals starting next year in the Capitol here on Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan in the state Capitol. We'll have special recognition ceremonies for the 80th anniversary of the end of World War II."

Nebraska Adjutant General Craig Strong says Nebraska has a rich history of service in Europe during World War II. "The Nebraska Brigade, which is units of the Nebraska 134th Infantry Regiment...had 10 months of combat in Europe. They were the liberators of St. Lo, France...Nancy, France...and participated in Bastonne. They'll be commemorating their 80th anniversary this July. They also had members in the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific. Company C out of Beatrice had 65-percent casualties in the assault of Hill 122 north of St. Lo, on the first day of the battle of St. Lo on July 15, 1944. That was the same high rate as on D-Day."

Strong said several members of Company M from Seward, a machine gun platoon, kept open a road for General Patton’s forces near Bastonne to relieve other forces, with every member earning a bronze star.