Paratroopers from 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion visit Virginia for D-Day ceremony
June 22, 2009
- Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion visited the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va.
- The visit was in honor of the 65th anniversary of D-Day
- The meorial was located in Bedford because more the town of Bedford lost more Soldiers than any other town in the U.S., per capita
- The paratroopers also visited a Veterans Hospital to provide comfort to the ailing veterans
In honor of the 65th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2009, leadership from the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion (Green Falcons), 82nd Airborne Division, represented the division during a weekend trip to Virginia to meet with veterans and personally express gratitude for their service to the country.
The Green Falcons departed Friday, June 5, from Ft. Bragg, N.C., escorted by members of the Patriot Guard Riders of North Carolina, led by former Paratrooper and Ride Captain Dutch Macomber. The Patriot Guard Riders of North Carolina accompanied the convoy from Ft. Bragg to the North Carolina - Virginia state border, where members of the Patriot Guard Riders of Virginia, led by Sgt. Sharla "Koda" Conner, escorted the remainder of the trip to VFW Chapter 1264 in Roanoke, VA. At the state border exchange, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Keith A. Pellegrini, paused to recognize the Patriot Guard Riders and present them a certificate of appreciation. "We'd like to express our appreciation for what you signed up to do, not just for us, but for what the Patriot Guard Riders do to honor veterans and their families. Thank you for your willingness to escort us and take time out of your days to support us," he said. Throughout the weekend, the Patriot Guard Riders of Virginia also escorted the Green Falcons on each leg of their trip.
VFW Post 1264 hosted a dinner and social for the Green Falcons and its members. Troopers were able to interact with the veterans and learn about their service to the country and their motivation for doing so. Their wealth of experience and knowledge was an inspiration for the leaders of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
Individuals like Mr. J.F. "Jim" Werner, who served in the Air Force from 1952 to 1957 during the Korean War, were eager to share their full range of life experiences. Notably, Werner worked with local and state officials while serving as VFW Virginia State Commander from 1993 to 1994 to dedicate a bridge in Harrisonburg, Va., as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Bridge. This bridge was first dedicated 15 years ago on the 50th anniversary of D-Day and this year, rededicated on the 65th anniversary. He said that his desire for the bridge was for those who pass over it to "give a prayer for the ones who didn't make it back." Werner, like the other veterans the Troopers met, is a living example of how many veterans' service to the country does not end with their time in the military. Instead, the military serves as a propelling agent for the many years of tireless service volunteered to their communities, to the memory and honor of the Soldiers gone before them and the welfare of the Soldiers who serve today and in the future.
The following day, Saturday, June 6, 2009, marked the 65th anniversary of D-Day. The day was spent at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. It is a memorial to the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the Allied Forces that took part in the landing at Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Overlord. It was a stunning reminder of the will and sacrifice of those servicemen and women whose courage and determination contributed to our proud heritage. There, the Green Falcons had the fortune to meet one of the finest examples of a Paratrooper, Joseph L. Comer, who had four combat jumps in World War II, to include the D-day assault on Normandy, as part of Company H, 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
The memorial held a ceremony, entitled, "Recalling Overlord: A Commemoration of the Normandy Landing, 6 June 1944." It was a "service of thanksgiving" for all who were part of that historical day, and the veterans in attendance were given special recognition. Representing the 82nd Airborne Division during the ceremony, Lt. Col. Pellegrini and Command Sgt. Maj. John B. Letriz presented a floral All-American patch and placed it in front of the 82nd Airborne Division plaque in honor of the division's historical involvement in D-Day.
After the memorial ceremony, the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion traveled to the Virginia Veterans Care Center to share dinner with some of its residents. The dinner was a special way to spend time with those veterans who receive care away from home. Their stories were a moving illustration of the effects of combat and life, but also a positive example of how the care center works to help them. Their wisdom and courage was a proud and encouraging reminder of why Soldiers serve their country. The Green Falcons also had the opportunity to visit with patients who were staying at the VA Medical Center. Many were recovering from surgery or different treatments and enjoyed the unexpected yet welcome visit. The Green Falcons greeted them with get well wishes, thanked them for their service and handed out 82nd Airborne Division posters.
The Green Falcons returned to Ft. Bragg, accompanied by the Patriot Guard Riders of Virginia and North Carolina. The weekend was a positive and rewarding experience for all who participated. The Troopers gained a deeper, more personal respect for the service and sacrifice of the veterans they met and honored. Likewise, the veterans were proud to witness how their legacy has paved the way for today's guardians of freedom.