JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (June 06, 2012) -- Close to three thousand visitors to the Nation's Capital joined the Under Secretary of the Army in saluting World War II veterans on the 68th anniversary of D-Day during a "Twilight Tattoo" at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summerall Field, in Arlington Va.
Joseph W. Westphal hosted the U.S. Army Military District of Washington's hour-long military pageant featuring Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own."
"This evening, I have the privilege to personally welcome a number of Veterans of World War II as well as three veterans who were involved with the Normandy invasion 68 years ago today," said Westphal during an earlier reception held for the Veterans at the Fort Myer Officer's Club. "They defeated fascism, aggression and oppression, and they emerged from the experience to make the United States a better place in which to live."
On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. The D-Day cost was high -- more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded -- but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.
"Tom Brokaw wrote this generation provided succeeding generations the opportunity to accumulate great economic wealth, political muscle, and the freedom from foreign oppression to make whatever choices they like," said Westphal. "It's for these reasons that I am proud to dedicate this evening's tattoo to commemorating the 68th Anniversary of D-Day and honoring those who served in World War II."
Wesphal invited a number of World War II veterans to view the Twilight Tattoo, including three that participated in D-Day on the beaches of Normandy, France. One of those veterans was retired Lt. Col. Earnest F. Gloyna, a five-campaign combat veteran of World War II who went on to become the Emeritus Professor, Bettie Margaret Smith Chair, Environmental Health Engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
"We spent two years of airfield construction in England, then the 820th hit Omaha beachhead with invasion forces on D + two," said Gloyna, who was an Army captain with the 820th Aviation Engineers during and after the landings. "The Army Airfield at Lignerolles, France, was completed even though we were under enemy artillery, and strafing attacks."
Gloynas unit then followed Gen. George Patton to Le Mans, completing four airfields in the area before going into the buzz-bomb area of Belgium, and later across the Roer and finally the Rhine.
"All of my battalion had experienced the depression in the 30s, so they were pretty tough, and the Army training they got, made them very hard to beat," said Gloyna. "Today's Soldiers seem the same to me as we were back then, they just have much better equipment today than we did, but the spirit is the same."
"Twilight Tattoo" is free, open to the public and scheduled every Wednesday night, rain or shine at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, which used to be Fort Myer, during the summer through the end of August, except next week. Twilight Tattoo will be performed on Tuesday, June 12th as part of the 237th Army Birthday week-long celebration across the nation.
Check the Twilight Tattoo website for schedule details and history of the "Twilight Tattoo" at http://twilight.mdw.army.mil/ (see related links).
In addition to events in Washington, D.C., five events to celebrate the Army Birthday will be held in New York City on June 14 and 15. On June 14 at Times Square a cake cutting ceremony and Future Soldier swearing in hosted by the Chief of Staff of the Army; an Army Birthday celebration at Bryant Park featuring featuring The U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own," the U.S. Army Drill Team, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and members of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), and another performance in Times Square.
On June 15 a patriotic performance at the Statue of Liberty by the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and a wreath laying ceremony at the National September 11 Memorial by Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Intelligence.
For more information, see this related article: http://www.army.mil/article/81114/.