18th MPs lead way for D-Day ceremonies

by Spc. Adrienne Killingsworth

NORMANDY, France — When it comes time to honor the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen who fought and died supporting the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, 65 years ago, thousands will flock to the shores of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach to pay homage. 

To honor these troops, the 18th Military Police Brigade was designated to plan, coordinate and conduct all U.S. support to the Normandy ceremonies.

Col. Thomas P. Evans, 18th MP Bde. commander, has been overseeing the command and control of the ceremonies as the task force commander. More than 700 Soldiers will be participating in the ceremonies that began Wednesday.
Maintaining such a large number of Soldiers and coordinating with other military branches and foreign officials requires a large level of dedication and attention to detail.

Master Sgt. Michael Weatherholt, operations sergeant major for the18th MP Bde., praised the Soldiers’ work.

“The Soldiers of the brigade from junior to senior levels have all done a spectacular job from initial planning to where we are today with the execution of ceremonies,” he said. “This being a highly visible mission, everyone knows their part and is conducting their duties superbly.”

To make the mission a successful one, the brigade has had to coordinate from headquarters in Germany to France. Town mayors, cemetery directors and the French Gendarmerie have all supported the brigade in its planning.

Having the opportunity to bring together U.S. Army Europe units with historic units like the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to pay tribute to the veterans is something the brigade is honored to be a part of, Master Sergeant Weatherholt said.

Despite the logistical difficulties of planning and conducting such a large operation, the opportunity to pay their respects to the veterans has been a driving force for the brigade in making this “the most professional event to show our gratitude to our veterans for what they did many years ago,” he said.

The brigade has had support and collaboration from other units to make sure everything falls into place.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of all the other units that were tasked to assist,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Brenda Curfman, the command sergeant major of the 18th MP Bde.