The commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division joined U.S. Army Soldiers deployed and serving in Europe to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of D-Day in Montebourg, France, June 3, 2017.
Maj. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves marked the 73rd anniversary of the 4th Inf. Div.'s D-Day landing with U.S. Army Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, during a dedication ceremony for Montebourg's World War II memorial wall in the heart of the city center.
"Today, we remember those sacrifices and honor the courage of the 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers and our Allies who fought here in Montebourg, the first significant objective off of Utah Beach, where nearly a yearlong advance began to liberate the continent," said Gonsalves, dedicating the memorial to the Soldiers who led the Allied-invasion into German-occupied Europe.
Led by Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the Soldiers of 8th Inf. Regt. assaulted the northern coast of Normandy's Utah Beach, pushing through to Ste. Maire-Eglise, Montebourg and Cherbourg within 23 days.
Gonsalves joined the Deputy of the Manche Phillipe Gosselin and Mayor Jean-Pierre Mauquest to unveil the placard adorning a wall from the ruined 15th century fortress of St. Marcouf-Les-Gougins. The monument was set in the town center in honor of the U.S. Army Soldiers of the 4th Inf. Div. who liberated Montebourg June 19, 1944, after 15 days of fighting.
"June 6th was not only the longest day--It is the memory of the dead for the living," said Mauquest. "The Soldiers who have the same audacity and tenacity of the brave who ended tyranny in 1944. It is our duty to keep the promise written by their blood by holding a fair and human world."
This year's commemoration proved particularly significant because it also marks the 100th anniversary of the 4th Inf. Div., which served as the Assault Division on the Utah Beachhead, June 6, 1944, said Gonsalves.
"The stories of their bravery, of their generosity, and of their leadership is more relevant now than it has ever been," Gonsalves told the city's hosts Deputy of the Manche and the mayor of Montebourg, distinguished guests, veterans and compatriots. "It is up to us, today's generation, to carry that legacy into the future.
"Today, together, we pledge to do so and reaffirm our commitment as a free people that tyranny must be met with resolve, and that liberty is always the achievement of courage," Gonsalves said.
More than 100 Soldiers, joined the commanding general, French compatriots and people of Montebourg, during a march from the town center to the memorial wall. Select Soldiers from "Fighting Eagles" Battalion of the 3rd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div., participated in the march, the memorial dedication ceremony and dinner hosted by Montebourg civic leaders.
The first U.S. Army Soldiers to land at Utah Beach during the D-Day assault, in 1944, the Soldiers of 3rd ABCT are currently deployed in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, U.S. forces' commitment to the collective security of eastern Europe.
Currently operating from Mihael Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, conducting bilateral training and multinational exercises with NATO Allies and Partners, the last time the 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt. deployed to Europe was during D-Day.
The Fighting Eagles selected 25 Soldiers who had recently earned the Expert Infantryman's Badge during testing earlier this year to participate in the D-Day ceremonial events with Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 1st and 90th Infantry Divisions.
The Soldiers served as guests of honor at the ceremony, where Gonsalves and community leaders laid wreaths at the Montebourg memorial.