French citizens join U.S. soldiers past and present to honor those who fought at Gourbesville during Normandy invasion

1 2

GOURBESVILLE, France — Army Brig. Gen. Jon Miller, deputy commanding general of 21st Theater Sustainment Command, speaks to veterans before the wreath laying ceremony here, June 4. Miller spoke at the ceremony honoring the 300 U.S. Army soldiers who died in and around Gourbesville during D-Day and the days following the invasion. (Department of Defense photo by Sgt. Fay Conroy)

GOURBESVILLE, France — World War II veterans of the 82nd Airborne Division salute during the playing of Taps at the commemoration ceremony here, June 4. Current soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 507th Infantry Regiment and the 101st Airborne Division were also at the ceremony. (Department of Defense photo by Army Sgt. Fay Conroy)

GOURBESVILLE, France — In the days before the landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944, the small town of Gourbesville was the site of a German aid station. In the days following the allied invasion the town and others like it in the surrounding countryside became the scene of intense fighting as the U.S. Army moved eastward deeper into France.

Almost 65 years later on June 4, veterans of those battles converged on the crossroads at Gourbesville to pay respects to their 300 comrades were who killed during the fighting and to lay wreaths at the base of a monument honoring them. The inscription on the monument reads: "To their liberators. The people of Gourbesville in memory of three hundred U.S. Soldiers who died on our soil June 1944."

"They have fallen so that we can live free in peace and happiness," said Army Brig. Gen. Jon Miller, deputy commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, who spoke at the event. "We not only mourn our loss but seek to never forget the sacrifice they made."

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 507th Infantry Regiment and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and veterans of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions saluted while "Taps" was played after the laying of the wreaths.

The ceremony here was one of more than two dozen taking place in Normandy this week in honor of the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

"It was really good to see the veterans out. I'm really glad we're here to be able to honor them," said Staff Sgt. Bryan Landry, an airborne school instructor with the 1st Battalion, 507th Infantry Regiment. "These guys are out here and they've done great things for not just their country, but for France and all of the world, and I have a lot of respect for all of them."

A plaque was also given to Randy Lewellen, son of R.B. Lewellen, who passed away two days before the ceremony. On D-Day, then Pfc. R.B. Lewellen, a rifleman with I Company, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, landed on the outskirts of Gourbesville.

At the time the aid station located at the crossroads still belonged to the Germans. He soon encountered three Germans and was wounded in the hand during the ensuing firefight. He was later wounded in the leg and was captured by the Germans. He was taken to the aid station where his hand was amputated and his leg wound treated. Randy Lewellen was also made an honorary citizen of the town by the residents of Gourbesville in a ceremony prior to the wreath laying.

Another son was at the ceremony to represent his father who is no longer able to travel.

"He asked me to be here today to represent him and his 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment comrades," said Jim Porcella, whose father, Tom Porcella, was a paratrooper in H Company, 508th PIR.

Reed Pelfry, who was a pathfinder with the 101st Airborne Division during the war, summed up the dedication veterans and their families have to attending ceremonies honoring those who fought in the Normandy campaigns.

"Only God and the cops could keep me away," said Pelfry.

Find more articles tagged with:

Comments: 0

Your comment:

Related Topics

VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Republic of Georgia-In front of a color detail with the national colors of America and the Republic of Georgia and the unit colors of the U.S. Marine Corps and Georgian military, Maj. Eric J. Andersen, executive officer Black Sea Rotational Force 11 and Kent, Wash., native,  â?forms the troops for the opening ceremony of Exercise Agile Spirit 2011, marking the official start of what is scheduled to be an annual training event with the partner nation. Marines with Alpha Company of Anti-Terrorism Battalion, and 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion deployed to Georgia for their annual training to supplement the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force deployment of BSRF-11, to conduct counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations training at Vaziani Training Area. , Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda

International Cooperation

Flag of France


History of EUCOM

D-Day, June 6, 1944

History Office

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (June 28, 2011)  Cmdr. Patrick E. Kulakowski, commanding officer of the guided-missile frigate USS Carr (FFG 52), speaks with Russian media during a press conference shortly after the ship arrived in St. Petersburg. Carr is homeported out of Norfolk, Va., and is on a scheduled three-month deployment supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Communication and Engagement

SOLNOK, Hungary — During the Ohio National Guard's Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) homecoming ceremony here Aug. 15, Maj. Gen. Gregory L. Wayt, Ohio's adjutant general, presented Capt. Robert H. Paley with an award for his hard work and dedication. The team spent the last year working together with Hungarian soldiers training the Afghan National Army forces. (Department of Defense photo by 1st Lt. Nicole Ashcroft)

U.S. Army, Europe

Related Articles

  • Series of Exercises to Kick Off in EUCOM AOR

    Several military exercises are scheduled to begin this month in the United States European Command area of responsibility
  • SOCEUR delivers tactical intel course to European SOF partners

    Students from 10 European nations participated in the seventh iteration of the SOCEUR tactical intelligence course held at the Slovenian Ministry of Defense Training Facility. The STIC is designed to increase the intelligence, or intel, capabilities at the Special Operations Task Unit level for commissioned and non-commissioned officers.
  • Pennsylvania Guard Partners With Lithuanian Troops

    The recent Vigilant Guard 2014 domestic emergency preparedness exercise conducted across the state integrated several Lithuanian military and civil response officers as part of Pennsylvania’s long-standing relationship with the Baltic nation.
  • SOCEUR kicks off expanded training with Baltics, regional partners

    U.S. Special Operations forces, in support of Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR), participated in an opening ceremony for Exercise Spring Storm Monday. This opening ceremony kicked of the special operations portion of the Estonian Defense Forces’ annual exercise.
  • 173rd conducts unscheduled training with Latvian Army

    Approximately 150 Soldiers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) in Vicenza, Italy arrived in Latvia April 24, 2014, to conduct small unit and leader training with members of the Latvian Army.
  • Forward…Ready…Now: USAF builds partnership with Polish Armed Forces

    More than 100 Airmen and three C-130J Super Hercules cargo aircraft from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, deployed to enhance bilateral defense ties with Polish armed forces members during a scheduled aircraft rotation to the U.S. Air Force Aviation Detachment in Poland.
  • Statement from Central European Chiefs of Defense Conference

    Chiefs of defense from Central and Eastern reinforced the importance of NATO and their alliance and partnerships emphasizing proven partnerships built on shared values, experiences and vision.
  • Spokesman: F-16 Augmentation Continues U.S.-Poland Partnership

    A dozen more F-16s and 300 personnel based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, will augment the U.S. aviation detachment at Lask Air Base, Poland, a Pentagon spokesman announced today.
  • Bulgarian Deputy Chief of Defense Visits EUCOM

    The biannual event, traditionally conducted in Sofia, was held in Stuttgart for just the second time since the signing of the United States/Bulgaria Defense Cooperation Agreement in 2006.
  • Hagel Praises Estonia's Commitment in Afghanistan

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised Estonia's commitment in Afghanistan in a Pentagon meeting today with Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu.