Veterans remember Operation Dragoon
A delegation made up of World War II veterans, military families and French officials group together at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., after a wreath-laying ceremony Aug. 9.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 10, 2010) -- World War II veterans, military families and French officials participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial here, Aug. 9, to honor Allied troops involved in Operation Dragoon.

Allied forces reclaimed French ports when 94,000 troops stormed and liberated southern France during the critical operation on Aug. 15, 1944. The success opened a second front in France allowing for logistical support to all Allied forces operating in France.

The amphibious and airborne assault commanded by Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers overwhelmed German opposition, who had their backs turned, traveling to support Nazi forces in Normandy. The victory motivated French resistance fighters who were able to liberate Paris ten days later.

The ceremony was part of a larger effort this month to remember Operation Dragoon, known as the "Forgotten D-Day", and to commemorate the 65th anniversary of V-J Day, when the Japanese surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945, ending the war.

"This is part of the tapestry woven over several decades to say thank you to our veterans," said Brig. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division (Rear) deputy commanding general; and Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield senior commander. "This also gives us the opportunity to say thank you to the international soldiers we fought with."

Family members were on hand to support the veterans as they perused the World War II attraction before preparing for a memorial ceremony scheduled the next morning at Arlington National Cemetery.

"These men are proud vets," said Wendy Eckert, the daughter of a veteran attached to the 45th Infantry Division during Operation Dragoon.

August is a busy month for World War II commemorations as cities across the U.S. prepare to remember the anniversary of V-J Day and the end of the war.

The Elkhart County Historical Museum located in Bristol, Ind., is set to celebrate the end of World War II by opening a microphone to veterans, military families and community members who wish to share any memories from the Pacific Theater.

The museum is poised to display World War II artifacts ranging from a Japanese marine cap, a U.S. Marine uniform and a Japanese flag capture by Allied forces at the battle of Iwo Jima.

"Many of these objects are not normally on display, so this is a great opportunity to see the collection," said Rebecca Oestreich, the museum's curator of education.

The Brooke County Public Library in Wheeling, W.Va., will follow lead by exhibiting World War II-era vehicles, rifles and uniforms. Ed Jackfert, World War II prisoner of war, and Dr. Fernando Manalac, an Allied soldier stationed in Manila during the war, are both set to speak.

The Times Square Alliance is taking a different approach by sponsoring a contest that challenges couples to recreate the famous "V-J Day in Times Square" photograph in which an anonymous Sailor kissed a nurse to celebrate the end of World War II.

The alliance has extended a special invitation to World War II veterans and returning veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The contest will take place Aug. 14 at Military Island in New York's Times Square.

The events taking place throughout the country this week are all intended to honor brave World War II veterans, and Phillips said there's no question why they're called the greatest generation.

"We stood on their shoulders, they saved the world and then they rebuilt the world," he said. "Now it's our job to carry it forward."

Page last updated Tue August 10th, 2010 at 15:11