by Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
6/4/2015 - NORMANDY, France -- More
than 100 U.S. Air Force Airmen are in Normandy, France, finalizing
preparations to commemorate the 71st anniversary of D-Day.
Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing's 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein
Air Base, Germany, will use four C-130J Super Hercules to provide air
support for a D-Day commemoration ceremony on June 7.
Throughout the week leading up to the celebration of France's liberation
from Hitler's control during World War II, the 37th AS is conducting
low-level formation flights. They will also participate in memorial
ceremonies to honor the fallen comrades who gave their lives on June 6,
1944, during Operation Neptune.
"We're very proud to be here and to be a part of this," said U.S. Air
Force Capt. Chad Thompson, 37th AS pilot. "It is very humbling to come
here and to see our heritage and celebrate what our forefathers did
Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines have come together to show support
during this week for not only Americans who served, but to strengthen
"It is surreal to visit and see the places where many men died for our
freedom," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Gerhart, 6th Ranger
Training Battalion ranger training brigade instructor. "I enjoy working
with (joint and allied forces) to be able to celebrate those who paved
the way for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization foundation."
Many French nationals come from all over to celebrate with patriotic
clothes and decorations around the community to thank Americans for
their service to their country.
"I am very proud to see the support from our American allies," said
Phillip Catherine, Picauville mayor. "We are very appreciative for this
here. For us, this is a (vivid and emotional memory.)"
On June 6, 1944, U.S. and Allied forces dropped more than 13,000 paratroopers from aircraft to liberate France of Nazi control.
American military forces and locals have come together to recreate that memory for Normandy.
"It's an honor to be out here remembering what Americans did during
WWII," said Staff. Sgt. James Gaston, 37th AS loadmaster. "I'm humbled
to participate with my team."
Military presence will continue to provide support to honor the fallen, who died to pave the way for the next generation.