NORMANDY, France — More than 100 U.S. Air Force Airmen in Normandy, France, finalized preparations recently to commemorate the 71st anniversary of D-Day.
Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing’s 37th Airlift Squadron on Ramstein used four C-130J Super Hercules to provide airlift support for a D-Day commemoration ceremony June 7.
The week leading up to the celebration of France’s liberation from Hitler’s control during World War II, the 37th AS conducted low-level formation flights. They also participated 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 before us.”
Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines came together not only to show support for Americans who served, but to strengthen partnerships abroad.
“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, with patriotic clothes and decorations, came from all over to celebrate around the community and to thank Americans for serving 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 of 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 paved the way for the next generation.