US, French Leaders Mark 75th Anniversary of D-Day

President Donald J. Trump (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron (right) speak at a June 6, 2019, D-Day commemoration event held at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Army photos by Sgt. Henry Villarama.

The US and France marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day together on the shores of Normandy, commemorating the battle and 10,000 fallen allied soldiers who President Donald Trump said “won back this ground for civilization.”

Trump, appearing with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, said the 176,000 troops who fought on June 6, 1944, left a legacy that will last for all time.

President Donald J. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day by paying tribute to surviving D-Day veterans at a ceremony in Normandy, France, June 6, 2019. DOD video

“The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made, did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for our nation,” he said. “They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.”

Present at the ceremony were 170 veterans of World War II, including 60 who landed on D-Day. The event concluded with a large flyover, starting with an A-400M followed by 14 C-47 Skytrains—the same aircraft that airdropped paratroopers for the invasion.

B-Roll of 48th Fighter Wing heritage F-15 aircraft perform a “missing man” formation over Omaha Beach in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2019. Video by SSgt. Rachel Maxwell/USAF

Eight USAF C-130s flew, followed by four F-15s from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England. The Eagles were painted in the same scheme as the US Army Air Corps P-47s that supported the invasion, a “representation and remembrance” of those pilots, said Col. Will Marshall, the commander of the 48th FW, before the flyover. This reflection is important for the wing’s “heritage and heraldry” for an event that will likely be the last major milestone during which a significant number of veterans from D-Day will be present. “We want to put our very best effort forward,” he said.

To end the ceremony, the United Kingdom Red Arrows performed a flyover filling the sky with red, white, and blue.

“Being worthy of the promise of Normandy means never forgetting that free people, when they join forces, can surmount any adversity,” Macron said. “We shall never cease to perpetuate the alliance of free peoples.”

The Normandy ceremony is one of many held this week and across the world. At MacDill AFB, Fla., USAF senior leaders marked the occasion during their Corona leadership conference.

Video: MacDill AFB via Facebook

D-Day reminds the Air Force of its “sacred duty,” USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said during the MacDill event.

“The tools and character of war have changed over the years, but the nature of warfare remains constant,” he said. “History may not repeat, but it does rhyme every now and them.”

CMSAF Kaleth Wright connected the bravery of those who fought in D-Day to more recent examples of exceptional airmen, such as Medal of Honor recipient MSgt. John Chapman. “The legacy they brought forth carries on to this very day,” he said.

There have been dozens of commemorative flyovers and other events featuring USAF aircraft and personnel marking D-Day. On June 4, four C-130Js from Ramstein AB, Germany, flew over the Air Force Monument in Picauville, France. On June 8 in Coigny, France, the US Air Force and 18th Airborne Corps will commemorate the “Orange Tails” of the 358th Fighter Group who flew P-47s on D-Day.

The residents of Picauville, France gather annually to remember the sacrifices made by allied forces to secure their village in the days after June 6th, 1944. Video by A1C Noah Coger

On June 9, several US Air Forces in Europe and US Army Europe, along with representatives from France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Germany, and Romania will conduct a Commemorative Airborne Operation. More than 900 paratroopers will jump from C-130s.

“This airborne operation is a joint military demonstration to honor the heroic actions and sacrifices of the veterans of Operation Overlord and the Normandy invasion,” according to USAFE.