Fort Riley Soldiers Lead D-Day Commemoration

Soldiers from Fort Riley led ceremonies at the 80th Annual D-Day Commemoration in Colleville-sur-Mer, France on Thursday.

According to the Army, the day’s events took place at the 1st Inf. Div. monument on the bluff overlooking the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach, where soldiers of the Big Red One assaulted German defenses during the opening stages of the Invasion of Normandy and at the Charles Shay Memorial, located nearby in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer. Shay.

“If you’ll allow me, I’d like to read something Gen. Eisenhower was given as his directive,” said Maj. Gen. John V. Meyer III, commander of the 1st Inf. Div. “‘You’ll enter the continent of Europe and in conjunction with other united nations undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her armed forces.’ That was the mission of the Allied forces. The mission of the 1st Inf. Div. was to be the vanguard of the invasion up these bluffs.”

Members of the 1st Inf. Div. color guard participated in the ceremonies alongside Porte-drapeau (French flag bearers) and Native American service members to remember all those who lost their lives on the sands of Normandy.

Charles Norman Shay, who served as a combat medic in the 1st Inf. Div. earned the Silver Star for his heroic actions on June 6, 1944. Before the day was done, Shay saved the lives of 20 fellow Soldiers.

“Those Soldiers fulfilled their duty,” said Meyer. “By doing so they brought victory. They liberated a continent and they gave people hope that tomorrow will be better than today.”

Of the 4,414 Allied troops killed on D-Day, 2,501 were Americans. Between June 6 and July 24, 1944, the 1st Inf. Div. had lost 657 Soldiers. Their names are etched in the stone on the monument erected on the bluff overlooking the beach taken by the Big Red One in the conjoined effort to liberate France and the rest of Europe.

By the end of the Second World War the 1st Inf. Div. had lost 5,516 Soldiers.

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Photos via Fort Riley