Saturday, June 6, 2009

Flashback Video: President Ronald Reagan's 1984 D-Day Speech at Point-du-Hoc, Normandy


News readers click here to watch the video.

Living History:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- In one of the most memorable speeches of his presidency, Ronald Reagan stood at the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1984, and described how Army Rangers on D-Day had scaled cliffs and defeated enemy troops who were firing down on them.

The impact of Reagan's speech came from the details that he hammered home in one of the great historical moments of his life.

Transcript:

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.

We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, two hundred and twenty-five Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs.

Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.

The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.

And behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. And these are the heroes who helped end a war. Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."

I think I know what you may be thinking right now -- thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him.

Lord Lovat was with him -- Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry, I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.

There was the impossible valor of the Poles, who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold; and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore; The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots' Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet," and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief. It was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead, or on the next. It was the deep knowledge -- and pray God we have not lost it -- that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought -- or felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4:00 am. In Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying. And in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.

Something else helped the men of D-day; their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer, he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also, that night, General Matthew Ridgway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

These are the things that impelled them; these are the things that shaped the unity of the Allies.

When the war was over, there were lives to be rebuilt and governments to be returned to the people. There were nations to be reborn. Above all, there was a new peace to be assured. These were huge and daunting tasks. But the Allies summoned strength from the faith, belief, loyalty, and love of those who fell here. They rebuilt a new Europe together. There was first a great reconciliation among those who had been enemies, all of whom had suffered so greatly. The United States did its part, creating the Marshall Plan to help rebuild our allies and our former enemies. The Marshall Plan led to the Atlantic alliance -- a great alliance that serves to this day as our shield for freedom, for prosperity, and for peace.

In spite of our great efforts and successes, not all that followed the end of the war was happy or planned. Some liberated countries were lost. The great sadness of this loss echoes down to our own time in the streets of Warsaw, Prague, and East Berlin. The Soviet troops that came to the center of this continent did not leave when peace came. They're still there, uninvited, unwanted, unyielding, almost forty years after the war. Because of this, allied forces still stand on this continent. Today, as forty years ago, our armies are here for only one purpose: to protect and defend democracy. The only territories we hold are memorials like this one and graveyards where our heroes rest.

We in America have learned bitter lessons from two world wars. It is better to be here ready to protect the peace, than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent. But we try always to be prepared for peace, prepared to deter aggression, prepared to negotiate the reduction of arms, and yes, prepared to reach out again in the spirit of reconciliation. In truth, there is no reconciliation we would welcome more than a reconciliation with the Soviet Union, so, together, we can lessen the risks of war, now and forever.

It's fitting to remember here the great losses also suffered by the Russian people during World War II. Twenty million perished, a terrible price that testifies to all the world the necessity of ending war. I tell you from my heart that we in the United States do not want war. We want to wipe from the face of the earth the terrible weapons that man now has in his hands. And I tell you, we are ready to seize that beachhead. We look for some sign from the Soviet Union that they are willing to move forward, that they share our desire and love for peace, and that they will give up the ways of conquest. There must be a changing there that will allow us to turn our hope into action.

We will pray forever that someday that changing will come. But for now, particularly today, it is good and fitting to renew our commitment to each other, to our freedom, and to the alliance that protects it.

We're bound today by what bound us 40 years ago, the same loyalties, traditions, and beliefs. We're bound by reality. The strength of America's allies is vital to the United States, and the American security guarantee is essential to the continued freedom of Europe's democracies. We were with you then; we're with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.

Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."

Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their value [valor] and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.

Thank you very much, and God bless you all.

(Report from public sources.)

Tags: , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Marine Casualty

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The following news release made available Saturday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying a casualty:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Robert D. Ulmer, 22, of Landisville, Pa., died June 5 as a result of a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune N.C.

The incident is under investigation.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera Video: Closing COP Courage in Mosul

video

NOTE: News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of the closing of Combat Outpost Courage. Scenes include areas of the palace that have been emptied and areas that are still in use as well as footage of the interior and exterior of the former palace. (Video by Spc. Angela Widener; 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs. Length: 5:01.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera: D-Day, June 6, 1944

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Supreme Allied Commander U.S. Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with 101st Airborne Division paratroopers before they board airplanes and gliders to take part in a parachute assault into Normandy as part of the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
A paratrooper boards an airplane that will drop him over the coast of Normandy for the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. Soldiers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions parachuted behind enemy lines during the night, while fellow Soldiers assaulted Normandy beaches at dawn. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Ships carry Soldiers and equipment across the English Channel toward the coast of Normandy, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Army Air Corps photographers documented D-Day beach traffic, as photographed from a Ninth Air Force bomber on June 6, 1944. Note vehicle lanes leading away from the landing areas, and landing craft left aground by the tide. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
A convoy of landing craft nears the beach at Normandy, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers and crewmen aboard a Coast Guard landing craft approach Normandy, D-Day, 6 June 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers wade through surf and Nazi gunfire to secure a beachhead during the Allied Invasion, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers crowd a landing craft on their way to Normandy during the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Barges carrying supplies for Soldiers are challenged by pounding surf along the Normandy coast, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Members of a landing party help injured Soldiers to safety on Utah Beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers move onto Omaha Beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, move over a seawall on Utah Beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Medics attend to wounded soldiers on Utah Beach in France during the Allied Invasion of Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers of the 16th Infantry Regiment, wounded while storming Omaha Beach, wait by the chalk cliffs for evacuation to a field hospital for treatment, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Gliders fly supplies to Soldiers fighting on Utah Beach during the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
German troops surrender to Soldiers during the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Soldiers in cargo vehicles move onto a beach in Normandy during the Allied Invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. After fierce fighting, the Allies established a foothold in northern France. (U.S. Army photo.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
The spirit of the American Soldier: this beachhead is secure. Fellow Soldiers erected this monument to an American Soldier somewhere on the shell-blasted coast of Normandy. (U.S. Army photo.)

Living History:

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 -- This is the 65th anniversary of one of the greatest joint land, sea and air operations in history. On June 6, 1944, Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the approval to launch. His decision was an agonizing one; weather was treacherous, but circumstances dictated a high tide and a short time span. Further delays would have given away the plan, known as Operation Overlord -- D-Day to everyone else.

The force contained 39 divisions, 20 of these were American. The Allies assembled a gargantuan naval armada, from battleships and destroyers to landing craft and coasters.

Late in the evening of June 5, thousands of ships made their way across the Channel. On that same night, a fleet of cargo planes, mainly C-47 Skytrains loaded with paratroopers, took off. In tow were American Waco and British Hamilcar gliders filled with soldiers or equipment. Fighters and bombers waited until dawn. One Air Force pilot wrote it looked like "an immense migration of birds."

The landings called for an assault on a five-divisional front. Three airborne divisions, including the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne, were dropped inland. They were to protect the sides of the main landing area, and close off the beaches. British and other allied troops were taking the northern beaches, code-named Juno, Gold and Sword. For the Americans, Utah and Omaha.

Overhead, specially marked black and white striped Allied Expeditionary Air Force aircraft owned the sky. Tactical bombers were hammering the whole northwest coast. The 8th AAF, commanded by Lt. Gen. James Doolittle, alone had 1,300 bombers over the area by daybreak. The 9th AAF's fighters, P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs, roared and dived at German strong points unhindered by Luftwaffe [German Air Force] interference. The Germans had been driven from the sky. In the air, the troops were supported by no less than 10,521 combat aircraft. Over the troops, too, screamed a hail of naval gunfire from the supporting warships. Far inland, the airborne divisions were already down and fighting hastily rallied enemy garrisons.

During the day, Germans flew 319 sorties; Allies 12,015 (not one was interrupted by enemy air action). However, a snapshot of that day cannot explain the importance of airpower. The invasion's air operations cannot be isolated from the earlier offensives carried on by the Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Force. The Allied Expeditionary Air Force, comprising the British 2nd Tactical Group and the USAAF 9th AAF, was set up almost a year before the actual landing.

Allied air support contained the invasion area -- destroying communication lines, rail lines and bridges. There were 66,000 tons of bombs dropped on Normandy during the three months preceding D-Day, creating what was called a "railway desert" around the Germans. The Allies further strengthened their advance by an additional 14,000 tons dropped on radar installations on the eve of D-Day.

By the end of D-Day, the Allies had control of all five beaches, but much of the jigsaw remained to be put together. British and Canadian beaches had become a solid Allied grip on the left flank. On the right flank, Americans on Utah were ashore, but German guns were still firing at Omaha. The invasion effort was already being replenished with stores, ammunition, and men by a second armada of ships.

Normandy was not a victory for a single branch of the service, nor the victory of a single nation. Normandy was the classic example of modern combined arms, air-land, coalition warfare. It was a struggle in which the Allies were fortunate to have not merely air superiority, but air supremacy. Their task of winning on the ground was made easier. Where the Allies had won the critical battle for air supremacy was not over the beachhead. It was in the air war lasting several years preceding June 1944

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

Related:
U.S. Army Official D-Day Web Site
D-Day at The National World War II Museum
National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
National Parks Site
Utah beach Normandy France - 360 degree panorama (Java)
American Battle Monuments Commission (Normandy American Cemetery)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US Army: Humvee Still Made in America

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
This Humvee prepares for a convoy mission inside the yard at Convoy Support Center Scania, Iraq, April 16. The military's Humvee is manufactured by AM General, an American company in South Bend, Ind. General Motor's decision to sell to a Chinese manufacturer their Hummer brand of vehicles, which shares a common background with the Humvee, will not affect where the Humvee is made. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Kiyoshi C. Freeman.)

Focus on Defense:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The military's High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, also known as a "HMMWV" or a "Humvee," will continue to be made in the United States, by an American-owned company.

The recent announcement that Detroit-based General Motors will sell their Hummer brand of vehicles to Chinese-based Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company, has no bearing on the U.S. military's Humvee.

"The Army's Humvee and the civilian Hummer look similar and share a common appearance," said spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Downie. "But the rights to produce those two different vehicles are no longer owned by the same company."

Humvee manufacturer AM General is an American company based in South Bend, Ind. The company produced the first 55,000 Humvees for the Army in 1985. The company continues today to produce the Humvee for the military.

In the early 1990s, AM General began producing a civilian version of the Humvee, calling it a "Hummer." But by the late 1990s, AM General had sold the Hummer name to General Motors.

While GM will sell the Hummer nameplate to Sichuan Tengzhong, the military's Humvee, its designs, unique performance capabilities and technologies will continue to be owned by, and the vehicle produced by, AM General.

(Report by C. Todd Lopez.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US Military: Children Used to Carry Out Attacks in Iraq

Dispatches from the Front
News from Multi-National Force - Iraq.

Dispatches from the Front:

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq, June 6, 2009 -- A teenage boy was seen throwing a grenade at a combined patrol of Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers Thursday in the town of Hawijah, approximately 30 kilometers west of Kirkuk city in northern Iraq.

The grenade failed to detonate, and the suspect fled into the mix of local shops, but the incident is part of a growing trend of children carrying out attacks on Iraqi security and U.S. forces in the province.

Maj. Warren Sponsler, the operations officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based near Hawijah, says he believes teenagers are being recruited by insurgents to commit the attacks.

Days earlier, a 15-year-old boy was apprehended, after throwing a grenade at a combined team of Iraqi Police and U.S. Soldiers on patrol in Hawijah. The grenade detonated against one U.S. vehicle. No one was injured and minor damage to one vehicle was reported.

The same unit reported that a boy between the ages of 14 to 16 threw a grenade at a combined convoy of Hawijah IPs and Soldiers from 1-8 Cavalry, May 26. No one was injured nor was there any damage reported in the attack.

In Kirkuk city, a boy -- possibly as young as 14 -- was the driver of a vehicle used in a suicide car bombing that killed five Iraqi policemen, wounded five others and also wounded 11 civilian bystanders, according to Kirkuk police, May 12.

Also in Kirkuk city, a 19-year-old would-be suicide bomber was detained by Iraqi police while attempting to detonate a suicide vest in a Shia Mosque, May 1. According to Iraqi police, he confessed to have been fighting insurgents in Iraq three years by the time of his arrest.

“To endanger children with acts of terrorism is despicable,” said Lt. Col Hugh McNeely, the deputy commander of 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry. “But when terrorists actively recruit them to risk their lives for goals that the child probably doesn’t even understand is evil. There’s just no other way to say it.”

Four members of a group known to recruit young children because of the reduced scrutiny they encounter from security officials, were arrested April 14, in Kirkuk by soldiers from the 12th Iraqi Army Division for suspected insurgent activities, according to Maj. Charles Assadourian, the intelligence officer for 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry.

Assadourian said the youths were being trained to avoid detection while carrying out insurgent activities and were being taught to become suicide bombers.

Terrorist groups are capitalizing on the fact that children do not draw as much attention and Soldiers do not want to harm them, according to Chief Warrant Officer Two Michael Hyatt, the 2nd BCT 1st Cavalry fusion chief. Children that are hurt while carrying out insurgent activities are also being used in propaganda campaigns by terrorists depicting them as martyrs.

(From a Multi-National Corps - Iraq news release.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Flashback Video: President Reagan's Speech Commemorating 40th Anniversary of D-Day June 6, 1984


News readers click here to watch the video.

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The President Ronald Reagan spoke at 4:33 p.m. at the Omaha Beach Memorial at Omaha Beach, France. In his opening remarks, he referred to President Francois Mitterrand of France.

Transcript:

Mr. President, distinguished guests, we stand today at a place of battle, one that 40 years ago saw and felt the worst of war. Men bled and died here for a few feet of -- or inches of sand, as bullets and shellfire cut through their ranks. About them, General Omar Bradley later said, ``Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero.''

No speech can adequately portray their suffering, their sacrifice, their heroism. President Lincoln once reminded us that through their deeds, the dead of battle have spoken more eloquently for themselves than any of the living ever could. But we can only honor them by rededicating ourselves to the cause for which they gave a last full measure of devotion.

Today we do rededicate ourselves to that cause. And at this place of honor, we're humbled by the realization of how much so many gave to the cause of freedom and to their fellow man.

Some who survived the battle of June 6, 1944, are here today. Others who hoped to return never did.

``Someday, Lis, I'll go back,'' said Private First Class Peter Robert Zanatta, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, and first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach. ``I'll go back, and I'll see it all again. I'll see the beach, the barricades, and the graves.''

Those words of Private Zanatta come to us from his daughter, Lisa Zanatta Henn, in a heart-rending story about the event her father spoke of so often. ``In his words, the Normandy invasion would change his life forever,'' she said. She tells some of his stories of World War II but says of her father, ``the story to end all stories was D-day.''

``He made me feel the fear of being on that boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the seasickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers' faces -- the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death.''

Private Zanatta's daughter wrote to me: ``I don't know how or why I can feel this emptiness, this fear, or this determination, but I do. Maybe it's the bond I had with my father. All I know is that it brings tears to my eyes to think about my father as a 20-year-old boy having to face that beach.''

The anniversary of D-day was always special for her family. And like all the families of those who went to war, she describes how she came to realize her own father's survival was a miracle: ``So many men died. I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, `You did what you had to do, and you kept on going.'''

When men like Private Zanatta and all our allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongly seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to be free again.

We salute them today. But, Mr. President, we also salute those who, like yourself, were already engaging the enemy inside your beloved country -- the French Resistance. Your valiant struggle for France did so much to cripple the enemy and spur the advance of the armies of liberation. The French Forces of the Interior will forever personify courage and national spirit. They will be a timeless inspiration to all who are free and to all who would be free.

Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic peoples who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace.

From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the postwar world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.

Today the living here assembled -- officials, veterans, citizens -- are a tribute to what was achieved here 40 years ago. This land is secure. We are free. These things are worth fighting and dying for.

Lisa Zanatta Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: ``I'm going there, Dad, and I'll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I'll see the graves, and I'll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I'll feel all the things you made me feel through your stories and your eyes. I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let anyone else forget. And, Dad, I'll always be proud.''

Through the words of his loving daughter, who is here with us today, a D-day veteran has shown us the meaning of this day far better than any President can. It is enough for us to say about Private Zanatta and all the men of honor and courage who fought beside him four decades ago: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

Thank you.

(Report from public sources.)

Tags: , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Army Casualty

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The following news release made available Friday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying a casualty:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Charles D. Parrish, 23, of Jasper, Ala., died June 4 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered earlier that day in Jalula, Iraq, when his vehicle was struck by an anti-tank grenade. He was assigned to the 5th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Army Casualty

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The following news release made available Friday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying a casualty:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Jasper K. Obakrairur, 26, of Hilo, Hawaii, died June 1 in Nerkh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, N.Y.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Army Casualties

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The following news release made available Friday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying casualties:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died June 4 near Kapisa, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 108th Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Georgia Army National Guard, Calhoun, Ga.

Killed were:
  • Maj. Kevin M. Jenrette, 37, of Lula, Ga.,

  • Staff Sgt. John C. Beale, 39, of Riverdale, Ga., and

  • Spc. Jeffrey W. Jordan, 21, of Rome, Ga.

(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

US Navy Updates Confirmed Cases of H1N1 (Swine Flu) to 118

News in Balance
News from the U.S. Navy.

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2009 -- The Navy updated its confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza June 4 to 118 sailors.

The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), the headquarters for Navy medicine, continues to monitor the health of the force to ensure necessary precautions are being taken to educate and safeguard Sailors, civilian personnel and family members.

Additional information on the H1N1 influenza is available at:

(Report from a U.S. Navy news release.)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, June 5, 2009

OEF Summary, June 5, 2009: Troops in Afghanistan Seize Weapons, Drugs, Suspects

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 -- Afghan and coalition security forces seized weapons and drugs and captured seven suspected militants during two operations in southern Afghanistan yesterday.

Afghan forces, advised and assisted by coalition forces, uncovered a significant drug and weapons cache during operations in Oruzgan province’s Shahidi Hasas district.

A search yielded 200 pounds of black-tar heroin, 100 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate, homemade explosives, numerous bomb-making materials, three machine guns and small arms, along with Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army uniforms. A number of women and children were discovered in the area and escorted to safety.

No civilian casualties have been reported. One Afghan policeman was wounded and was treated by medics before being evacuated to a nearby coalition medical facility for further treatment.

In another operation, Afghan and coalition forces raided a compound in Helmand province, detaining seven men with suspected ties to Taliban operations in Helmand and Farah provinces.

Two AK-47 rifles, one shotgun and a chest rack were confiscated. Afghan and coalition forces also discovered a large amount of explosive material inside one of the buildings of the compound. The explosives were destroyed in place.

No Afghan, coalition forces or noncombatant casualties were reported during this operation.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon: Member of All-Black D-Day Unit to Receive Overdue Honor

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 -- Sixty-five years ago, he was a young black soldier whose role in the allied landing at Normandy would go largely ignored. But now William Dabney returns to France with due honors.

Then a 20-year-old corporal, Dabney stormed the beleaguered Omaha Beach armed with a type of explosive-laden helium balloon the Army floated at low altitude to interfere with German aircraft. He represented the 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion, the first exclusively African-American unit to fight in World War II.

Dabney, the lone surviving member of the 320th Battalion, will receive France’s Legion of Honor tomorrow in conjunction with other D-Day ceremonies across France. The honor marks time the black soldiers of the battalion have been officially recognized for their role in the famed 1944 operation, a defense official said.

“Whether we got credit for it or not, we still felt that we did our job,” the 84-year-old Dabney said in an interview yesterday at the French Embassy ahead of his flight abroad. “And we felt that maybe one day we would get recognition, and this has come that I’m getting some recognition for what I did.

“I’m very thankful for it,” he said of receiving the Legion of Honor, the French’s government highest award.

Dabney is one of about 40 Americans to receive the Legion of Honor during the D-Day anniversary ceremonies tomorrow. The event holds additional significance, since it will be presided over by President Barack Obama, the first African-American to hold the highest U.S. office, Dabney said.

“It’s going to make me feel real proud. I feel as though that we – African-Americans -- have come a long ways,” he said. “And it’s not only me, but it’s something that my grandchildren, my great grandchildren have seen already, and they are grateful.”

For Dabney, Obama’s ascension to the White House reflects the American values he felt he was fighting for during World War II.

“I never would have thought that I would see the day that we would have an African-American president,” he said. “That sort of relieved me. I was over here fighting, and now I can look and see that we have an African-American president.”

Dabney was one of five World War II veterans on hand yesterday with their families at the embassy for a luncheon before their voyage. Joining the elder Dabney was his son, Vinny Dabney, of Roanoke, Va.

“It’s really an honor for me to be able to accompany him as he receives this magnificent honor,” Vinny Dabney said. “He was able to attend the 60th anniversary, but this one is even more important because of the honor, the medals, that will be bestowed on the veterans.

“The contribution of my dad and other African-Americans was kind of something that was swept under the rug for a long time. And now they’ve finally pulled the rug back, and here’s all this history.”

The other veterans at the embassy yesterday who are attending the D-Day anniversary in Normandy include:
  • Burnett Bartley, who also took part in the D-Day landing. For 264 consecutive days, he fought with the 35th Infantry Division, in which more than 25,000 soldiers would lose their lives. During a battle to liberate the town of Destry, he was wounded in the throat; his vocal cords were severed, and the effects have endured to this day. Bartley distinguished himself during the war by his behavior, his courage and his keen judgment, as attested by the honors bestowed upon him by U.S. military officials.

  • Elmer De Lucia, who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion. During this operation, he saw dozens of his friends die; he witnessed the beach become a veritable mass grave, with hundreds of young soldiers mowed down by enemy fire. With his company, he spent 313 days in Normandy, including 60 consecutive days without a day of rest. He fought in five major campaigns -- Normandy, Northern France, the Rhineland, the Ardennes and Central Europe -- earning five Bronze Stars. Twice wounded in action, in France in October 1944 and in Germany in March 1945, he also received the Purple Heart.

  • James Huston, an intelligence officer with the 35th Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 134th Regiment, who participated in the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach. During his first battle, in Saint-Lô, with a five-man patrol, he took Hill 122, a heavily fortified and mined position occupied by the enemy. This act earned him the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. He subsequently served as a commander when his unit crossed northern France toward Nancy. He then led the battalion that crossed the Meurthe as an operations officer. He carried out the attack and capture of Malzeville, east of Nancy, to establish a bridgehead for the region. His strategic abilities, sharp analyses and personal involvement during his command of this action earned Huston a Bronze Star.

  • Nathan Kline, who was 18 when he enlisted in the Army in 1942. After months of training, he was assigned to the 323rd Bomb Group of the 9th Air Force as a bombardier/navigator on a B-23. He took part in the D-Day landing, with subsequent missions taking him to Reims, Chartres, the Belgian border and, in May 1945, Valenciennes. He carried out no fewer than 65 bombing missions during World War II. His plane was hit twice during the battle of the Ardennes. Without abandoning his position, he continued bombing his target until the action was successful. He provided first aid to his radio operator, who was wounded, before returning to his navigator post and bringing the plane back down into allied territory. For this action, which was decisive to the outcome of the battle, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Before their departure, French Defense Attache Maj. Gen. Gratien Maire saw the veterans off and told them it was a pleasure to honor their sacrifice.

“Thank you for what you did for

(Report by John J. Kruzel, American Forces Press Service.)

Tags: , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

OEF Update, June 5, 2009: Troops in Afghanistan Nab 7 Suspected Militants, Destroy Explosives Cache

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 5, 2009 -- Afghan and coalition forces raided a compound in Helmand province overnight, detaining seven men with suspected ties to Taliban operations in Helmand and Farah.

In Helmand province, in a rural area south of Marjeh, combined forces conducted an operation to locate and detain a foreign fighter facilitator who operates in Nad Ali District. In exchange for security to operate his narcotics trafficking business, he provides financial support to the Taliban. Removing this known criminal will disrupt Taliban operations, improving security for citizens in and around Marjeh.

Acting on intelligence sources, Afghan and coalition forces patrolled to the village where the targeted militant purportedly was staying. After eliminating an initial threat to the joint team, Afghan forces called for all non-combatants to exit the compound peacefully.

Without further incident, forces detained seven suspected militants. Two AK-47 assault rifles, one shotgun and a chest rack were also removed.

Afghan and coalition forces discovered a large amount of explosive material inside one of the buildings. Due to the volatility of the material, the commander on the ground determined it needed to be destroyed in-place, as it represented a danger to the local populace but could not be moved safely. The subsequent controlled detonation to eliminate the explosive material destroyed the structure. All civilians were directed to an area where they would remain safe during the blast.

No Afghan, coalition forces or non-combatant casualties were reported during this operation.

(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Global Tags:
, , , , , , , , ,

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button