Supporting democracy is an honor, privilege

Col. Jesse Cross
200th Materiel Management
Center commander

***image1***The first week of June marks the 60th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, and the beginning of the end for the Axis powers during WWII.
The 21st Theater Support Command will provide all logistical support for the more than 3,000 Soldiers involved in the various ceremonies to be held June 5 and 6, in the Normandy region of France.
I am proud and honored to serve as the commander of Task Force Logistics 60, as our mission has been named.
During the actual invasion, U.S. major actions included an airborne assault and three amphibious assaults on Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach. Commemorative ceremonies will be held at the corresponding historical sites to include a 600-Soldier airborne drop on the original drop zone outside of the legendary town of St. Mere Eglise.
This year’s celebration is especially significant because many of the veterans are in their mid-to-late 80s and, as such, are diminishing national military treasures.
The commander of Task Force Normandy 60, Army Maj. Gen. David T. Zabecki stated that the motto of the operation is: “The Veterans Are Our Heroes.” The general’s goal is to honor the brave Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from the “Greatest Generation.”
Many people have seen the movies, “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Longest Day,” and understand the fundamental facts concerning D-Day. However, the following are some facts of which you may not be aware:
D-Day was the largest air/sea assault ever conducted. The Allies launched 4,000 ships, 13,000 aircraft, and landed 180,000 Soldiers on the beaches and drop zones of Normandy.
The invasion had to be timed perfectly. There were only three days in June when the tides would be appropriate. As it turned out, a gale force storm formed over the English Channel and the Allies were able to follow its wake and catch the German defenders by complete surprise.
The German Commander, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s wife’s birthday was on June 6. He, too, had calculated the tides, but thought the storm made invasion impossible. Consequently, he left France to visit his wife for her birthday.
“Saving Private Ryan” is based upon a true story. However, in real life, two brothers were killed on D-Day and the third was MIA in the Pacific Theater. When word of the family loss reached the 101st Airborne Division, a radio message was sent and the last remaining brother was safeguarded in a barn by an American chaplain.
The MIA brother later escaped a Japanese POW camp and survived the war.
The Normandy assignment is but one of a myriad of missions the 21st Theater Support Command will undertake during the months of May and June, but it is one that will invoke a collective sense of pride, respect, and memories for all participants that will last throughout their lifetimes.