Military News

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Commemorative Events Mark 74th Anniversary of D-Day



By Army Staff Sgt. Tamika Dillard, U.S. Army Europe

SAINTE-MARIE-DU-MONT, France -- On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 troops began the largest multinational amphibious landing and operational military airdrop in history.

And 74 years later, the eyes of the world still look upon them as U.S. service members, World War II veterans, NATO allies and partners participated in events and ceremonies throughout the Normandy region of France to honor the bravery, heroism, selfless service and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.

Today marks the 74th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, most commonly known as D-Day. An epic multinational amphibious and airborne operation, D-Day forged partnerships and reinforced trans-Atlantic bonds that remain strong to this day. U.S. service members from 20 units in Europe and the United States have commemorated the D-Day anniversary over the past week in almost 40 locations throughout the Normandy region.

Events such as the Carentan Battlefield Tour; wreath-laying ceremonies at the Airborne, General Eisenhower, Point du Hoc and Iron Mike monuments; and the addition of the 101st Airborne Division’s football “game that never happened” took place throughout the commemorative week.

Utah Beach Ceremony

Today, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Utah Beach Federal Monument here featured remarks by U.S. Ambassador to France Jaime McCourt and D-Day veteran Steve Melnikof.

Melnikof, 98, briefly recounted an event from the day his unit, the 29th Infantry Division, stormed Omaha Beach.

“That day alongside us were the French, English, Canadians and the British,” Melnikof said. “We had an assignment to get over this high bluff, and we did. We lost a lot of infantrymen that day, … but we will remember them all as combat infantrymen.”

Speaking in French, McCourt lauded the bravery, heroism, selfless service and sacrifice that Melnikof and other D-Day veterans gave for the freedoms enjoyed today.

A Generation’s Defining Moment

“The acts of the Allies on Utah Beach and the other beaches that morning in June were far more than heroic. … They were the defining moment of a whole generation,” she said. “They changed the course of world history.”

Switching to English, McCourt then addressed the World War II veterans in the audience.

“Proclamations are easily made,” she said. “Turning words into reality requires the effort and sacrifice of the truly great men and women like you. Thank you for being there then, and thank you for being here.”

Stories of bravery, heroism, selfless service and sacrifice will continue to be passed on from generation to generation as a way of honoring the past to secure the future.

“Ceremonies such as this are more than just commemorations,” the ambassador said. “They are the spirit of our story, which we pass on to the new generation. It is our children and the children of our children who will take responsibility for maintaining and consolidating this world of peace and freedom for tomorrow, as well as the bonds of friendship between our two nations.”
Commemorative Events Mark 74th Anniversary of D-Day
By Army Staff Sgt. Tamika Dillard, U.S. Army Europe

SAINTE-MARIE-DU-MONT, France -- On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 troops began the largest multinational amphibious landing and operational military airdrop in history.

And 74 years later, the eyes of the world still look upon them as U.S. service members, World War II veterans, NATO allies and partners participated in events and ceremonies throughout the Normandy region of France to honor the bravery, heroism, selfless service and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.

Today marks the 74th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, most commonly known as D-Day. An epic multinational amphibious and airborne operation, D-Day forged partnerships and reinforced trans-Atlantic bonds that remain strong to this day. U.S. service members from 20 units in Europe and the United States have commemorated the D-Day anniversary over the past week in almost 40 locations throughout the Normandy region.

Events such as the Carentan Battlefield Tour; wreath-laying ceremonies at the Airborne, General Eisenhower, Point du Hoc and Iron Mike monuments; and the addition of the 101st Airborne Division’s football “game that never happened” took place throughout the commemorative week.

Utah Beach Ceremony

Today, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Utah Beach Federal Monument here featured remarks by U.S. Ambassador to France Jaime McCourt and D-Day veteran Steve Melnikof.

Melnikof, 98, briefly recounted an event from the day his unit, the 29th Infantry Division, stormed Omaha Beach.

“That day alongside us were the French, English, Canadians and the British,” Melnikof said. “We had an assignment to get over this high bluff, and we did. We lost a lot of infantrymen that day, … but we will remember them all as combat infantrymen.”

Speaking in French, McCourt lauded the bravery, heroism, selfless service and sacrifice that Melnikof and other D-Day veterans gave for the freedoms enjoyed today.

A Generation’s Defining Moment

“The acts of the Allies on Utah Beach and the other beaches that morning in June were far more than heroic. … They were the defining moment of a whole generation,” she said. “They changed the course of world history.”

Switching to English, McCourt then addressed the World War II veterans in the audience.

“Proclamations are easily made,” she said. “Turning words into reality requires the effort and sacrifice of the truly great men and women like you. Thank you for being there then, and thank you for being here.”

Stories of bravery, heroism, selfless service and sacrifice will continue to be passed on from generation to generation as a way of honoring the past to secure the future.

“Ceremonies such as this are more than just commemorations,” the ambassador said. “They are the spirit of our story, which we pass on to the new generation. It is our children and the children of our children who will take responsibility for maintaining and consolidating this world of peace and freedom for tomorrow, as well as the bonds of friendship between our two nations.”

B-1B Lancer Bombers Support Exercise Baltic Operations


By Air Force Senior Airman Emily Copeland, 7th Bomb Wing

ROYAL AIR FORCE FAIRFORD, England -- Two B-1B Lancer bombers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, took part in missions supporting Exercise Baltic Operations June 4.

The B-1s conducted missions with inert Quickstrike Mark 62 mines, providing U.S. and coalition military forces the opportunity to train for the laying and recovering of mines. These inert mines are recoverable and reusable.

“Dropping naval mines gives the B-1 a lot of operational capability to complete the mission,” said Hojo, a B-1 pilot assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron.

The pilot’s full name isn’t used due to security concerns.

The B-1 “can quickly deliver large quantities of precision and nonprecision weapons against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time,” the pilot said.

Annual, Joint, Multinational, Maritime-Focused Exercise

Exercise Baltic Operations, which began in 1972, is an annual joint, multinational, maritime-focused exercise. It is designed to improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. This year’s exercise commenced June 1 and runs through June 15.

The exercise involves maritime, ground and air forces to strengthen combined response capabilities necessary to ensure regional stability.

Training focus areas include air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations.

“We train how we fight,” Hojo said. “There is a lot of behind the scenes to working with mines, from building the munitions to dropping them on a designated target; you want to make sure that when you are called upon for a mission, that you can successfully complete the task the first time when it counts.”
B-1B Lancers support Exercise Baltic Operations

Exercising Key Bomber Capabilities

The inclusion of bombers in this exercise has been long planned and provides an opportunity for bomber crews to integrate and train with other U.S. European Command components, while exercising the United States’ key bomber capabilities. These flights demonstrate the ability of the U.S. bomber force to provide a credible, flexible, and always-ready capability to respond to a variety of potential threats and situations, when called to do so.

These bombers will perform sorties in the Baltic Sea region, providing support to NATO and partner forces. The exercise will enable the B-1 and its crews to enhance their combat readiness, so collectively NATO can immediately respond to a range of real-world situations.

Training with allied nations and joint partners improves coordination between nations and enables the Air Force to build enduring relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges.

The exercise enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region.

“We are here to reassure our NATO partners and allies that we have their back,” Hojo said. “The interoperability is a huge piece to our part in the exercise, but this is a great opportunity for our unit and everyone involved to do something they have never done before whether at home or in theater."