Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) attended the first ceremony on June 1, 2022 in France to kick off a weeklong commemoration of the 78th anniversary of D Day. The ceremony took place in Beuzeville-au-Plain, a village in Normandy where a C-47 carrying 17 paratroopers crashed on D Day killing everyone on board.
At 0112 hours on June 6, 1944, the C-47 took German anti-aircraft fire and crashed near the village. Five air crew members from the 91st Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group and 17 paratroopers from E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment died in the crash.
More than 60 U.S. and German Soldiers gathered to honor the memory of those lives lost.
Guest speaker Col. Mark A. Denton, commander of the 207th Military Intelligence Brigade (Theater) and former member of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) said he was honored to recognize the fallen Soldiers of the storied division.
Denton reminded the ceremony attendees that the HBO series “Band of Brothers” featured a scene with the plane which carried Lt. Thomas Meehan, the commander of E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
“Today we take the time to honor those who fought here 78 years ago,” said Denton, “Lt. Meehan and those who fought alongside him are in our hearts and minds today and every day. When I imagine the hours leading up to the Day landings in June of 1944, I think about the brave servicemembers and what must have been going through their minds as they prepared to execute what is still known as the largest ever multinational amphibious landing and military airdrop in history.”
The mayor of Beuzeville au Plain, Philippe Nekrassof, welcomed the U.S. and German Soldiers in attendance and acknowledged the children who attended the ceremony with their families. The children were dressed in period uniforms adorned with 101st patches.
“I see among the crowd today some children who are present at the ceremonies in order to honor the memories of the Soldiers who lost their lives to allow us to pass on the torch to future generations,” said Nekrassof.
Denton paid homage to the sacrifice of the men who died at Beuzeville-au-Plain 78 years ago to bring peace and security to a country in which they had never set foot and a people whom never met.
“They were fighting against overwhelming odds with the fate of our world at stake,” said Denton. “For many of our service members this wasn’t their first battle, it was their last.”
In memory of:
C-47 Crew 91st Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group
1st Lieut. Harold Andrew Capelluto
2nd Lieut. Lt John Joseph Fanelli
2nd Lieut. Bernard Friedman
Sgt. Albert R. Tillotson Jr
Sgt. Norman E. Thompson
Paratroopers (Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division)
1st Lieut. Thomas Meehan
1st Sgt. William S. Evans
Staff Sgt. Murray B. Roberts
Sgt. Elmer L. Murray Jr.
Sgt. Richard E. Owen
Sgt. Carl N. Riggs
Tech. 5 Herman F. Collins
Tech. 5 Jerry A. Wentzel
Tech. 5 Ralph H. Wimer
Pvt. George L. Elliott
Pvt. John N. Miller
Pvt. 1st Class Sergio G. Moya
Pvt. 1st Class Gerald R. Snider
Pvt. 1st Class Elmer L. Telstad
Pvt. 1st Class Thomas W. Warren
Pvt. 1st Class Earnest Oats