NORMANDY, France -- Members from Team Ramstein helped support a host of ceremonies here June 1 through 5 commemorating the World War II D-Day invasion.
Although the Air Force was not technically around in 1944, airpower still played a role in the events that led to the liberation of France. The first invaders of Normandy came by night via C-47s; about 13,000 paratroopers
More than 400 spectators, including military members from the 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Contingency Response Group, and the French, German, Dutch, and English service members participated in the first of many ceremonies held in Picauville, France.
“We’re here to communicate our gratitude to the people of this region,” said Col. Bill Ward, 86th Operations Group commander. “We lost many brethren here 68 years ago and we are very grateful that the people here choose to remember it every year.”
Picauville was the site where four C-47 Skytrains were shot down.
“The fates of many nations were decided 68 years ago. A friendship was forged, which has since stood the test of time and promises to continue for many decades,” said Ward.
Then, in Saint Mere-Eglise, a city in Normandy where paratroopers landed 68 years ago, a string of C-130s, a German C-160, and an old C-47 dropped more than 40 Army, Air Force, and German, French and Dutch parachutists June 3.
“It was quite an amazing site to see,” said Thomas Cooper, a spectator who flew in from the United Kingdom to take part in the week-long events. “The food and festivities have me stay for the week and it’s the kindness of the of all the participants keep me coming back.”
The drop was a way to pay homage to the warriors who died in service to their country.
“It’s important to remember where you came from,” said Chief Master Sgt. Lew Holston Jr., 37th Airlift Squadron superintendent. “Although a lot of this is Army Air Corps history, we were still part of this drop with the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron who made some of the most accurate drops.”