By Rachel Clark, Army Contracting CommandJune 5, 2014
NORMANDY, France (June 5, 2014) -- The radio is reporting clear skies and calm waters here, as military and civilian personnel from all over the world gather in honor and celebration of the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. This makes today far different from the monumental day when Allied troops stormed a stretch of beach in the invasion of Continental Europe, in World War II.
"Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely," wrote Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the Allied Forces, in a letter to the military personnel preparing to storm the beaches.
On June 6, 1944, more than 156,000 Allied troops from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada stormed a 50-mile stretch of beach on the Normandy coast to free France from Nazi Germany's control. Fast forward 70 years. Veterans, Soldiers, and dignitaries from all over the world are gathered in Normandy to honor the commemoration of D-Day.
"I look at myself as a Soldier today, and to then try to imagine myself participating in the airborne operation or [as] one of the Americans storming the beaches 70 years ago; it's a surreal experience," said Maj. Thomas Lutz, a contracting officer with the 409th Contracting Support Brigade.
Lutz was on hand as part of the 409th team supporting the contracting needs for the event.
The D-Day commemoration bi-national ceremony will include remarks from the President Barack Obama and French Republic President Francois Hollande, as well as various guest speakers and honorees.
"This is an important event, and I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to support and honor the so many brave Americans that fought and died during this campaign," said Capt. Markly Jean-Charles, 409th CSB contracting specialist.
As part of their mission, members for the 409th contracted for items in support of the ceremony held at the American Cemetery there.
"The effort going into the ceremony is massive," said Todd Stackhouse, 409th CSB contracting officer. "We planned for over 10,000 people in attendance; requiring a temporary transformation to the memorial to enlarge the stage, cover the pool, protect the grounds, provide flooring and seats, camera stands, audio and video requirements, helicopter landing zones, power and numerous media support requirements. This doesn't even cover it. We are truly giving this event honor by remembering."