First D-Day Casualties Honored At New Memorial In Picauville, France

Residents from the French city of Picauville have unveiled a new memorial dedicated to the American soldiers who perished on D-Day while trying to protect their liberty. Those men who died in Picauville during the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 were in fact the first casualties of D-Day, reports Stars and Stripes.

What Happened On D-Day?

On the evening of June 5, 1944, a squadron of Douglas C-47 Skytrain military transport aircraft assigned to the 440th Troop Carrier Group departed from Exter, England, which is exactly 191.8 miles from Picauville, a city that lies in the northwestern quadrant of Normandy. On board the aircraft were the 101st Airborne Division (code-named ‘Screaming Eagles’) and the 82nd Airborne Division (code-name the ‘All American Division’), light infantry paratroopers trained for air assault operations.

As the squadron approached Picauville during the early morning hours of D-Day, it came upon heavy fire from German flak guns. Several aircraft crashed, and thus the honorable men from these various groups and divisions became the first casualties of D-Day.

What Happened At The Memorial?

Hundreds of U.S. soldiers and nearly 50 World War II veterans showed for the D-Day memorial in Picauville. Included among them were four-star Air Force General Philip Breedlove; Air Force Major General Wallace “Wade” Farris, Jr.; and Brucie Campbell, the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Parcell, who according to the U.S. Department of Defense died during the Battle of Normandy.

Thousands more (mainly local residents) showed up to watch the solemn tribute to D-Day casualties. After the official unveiling, which was performed by a conjunction of French and American officials, a collection of Air Force mementos were presented to the Picauville Mayor Philippe Christine. The importance of the entire event certainly wasn’t lost to her:

“The man fact men died here for our liberty… it’s the most important thing for us to keep the memory [alive] and say to our children what are the facts with history and what importance the landing of [the] U.S. Army [had] to give us our liberty.”

Indeed. It is very important to Philippe that the children of her town never forget the casualties that were incurred on June 6, 1944, aka D-Day.

What Happens Now?

The key going forth lies in never forgetting the sacrifices that were made not only on D-Day, but during the whole course of World War II. It also mandates we remember that peace and love always inevitably triumph, no matter how horrific the obstacles they must first overcome, as General Breedlove himself so poignantly noted:

“Enemies on the battlefield 70 years ago are now staunch allies, and the bond across the Atlantic Ocean, born here in the Normady region, is stronger than it has ever been.”

Image via [Google Images]

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