By Lt. Col. Michele R. Sutak, 7th CSC Public AffairsMay 6, 2010
MANCHE, France - U.S. and allied servicemembers, U.S. Army Reserve Ambassadors from the state of Texas, World War II veterans, local dignitaries and civilians honored the memory of those who liberated France at a commemoration ceremony at the foot of the 90th Infantry Division "Tough 'Ombres" memorial April 27.
Retired Col. Olin F. Brewster, U.S. Army Reserve ambassador from Texas, recognized World War II veteran John Roman, who served in the Army as a sergeant first class and was there when the guns fell silent in Europe and victory was declared. The audience at the commemoration ceremony honored Roman with a standing ovation for his wartime service and his participation in liberating France.
During the ceremony, Brewster recognized each battle the 90th ID fought in during World War II to earn the battle streamers that currently fly on the Tough 'Ombres' colors. The five battle streamers presented during this ceremony included Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, Rhineland and Central Europe.
Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Stading, the command sergeant major of the 7th CSC, handed a streamer to Roman, who was an honorary guest at the battle streamer ceremony. Roman placed one of the streamers on the 90th ID colors and sharply saluted the flag to honor the Northern France battle campaign.
The 1st and 3rd battalions of the 359th Regiment, 90th ID, landed at Utah Beach June 6, 1944, around 6:30 p.m., and the rest of the 90th ID reached the shore over the next two days. From that point on they were in constant action until the end of the war. The 90th ID lost more than 18,000 Soldiers during the grueling 308 days of combat.
"We mourn the loss of those who paid the ultimate price, be they Allies or the French citizens of Normandy fighting to liberate their homeland," said Brig. Gen. Jimmie Jaye Wells, the commanding general of the 7th CSC. "That heroism will not be forgotten nor will it be in vain - and the patriotism and honor, which defined their lives, will outlive us all."
After the ceremony, the crowd gathered around to welcome and honor the veterans, U.S. Army leaders, dignitaries and the 7th CSC Color Guard. Many people waited anxiously to have their photo taken with the Color Guard, barely holding back their gratitude and their excitement on their faces.
Brewster addressed the audience and referred to Tom Brokaw describing the
World War II veterans as "The Greatest Generation." And every day people from all walks of life come to Utah Beach to honor these veterans and stand among these heroes, celebrating this greatest generation in their Victory in Europe.
"All of us are deeply humbled by our relationships with each of you ... we draw inspiration from you and those who have gone before," said Brewster. "There are many words to describe your deeds, but no words to do you sufficient honor ... so we simply say 'thank you' and we salute you."