News: Picauville: Remembered after 70 years
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Andy Yoshimura
PICAUVILLE, France – A small city located in Normandy, France, played a big role some 70 years ago during D-Day. After the Allied landings of France on June 6, 1944, a temporary 5,000-foot airfield was established in the city two weeks later.
American, Italian, Dutch, German and British service members stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind 16 World War II veterans in a commemoration ceremony unveiling a memorial remembering American and British Airmen who died during the war, here near the center of the city on June 5, 2014.
This airfield was headed by the 9th Air Force where they based P-47 Thunderbolt fighters along with support facilities for fuel, ammunition and rations making it crucial in bringing mission essential items for the service members in Normandy. As the Allied forces moved east, the airfield was abandoned three months later.
Seven decades later, the city of Picauville invited the U.S. and their Allies back to their city to remember those service members who risked and lost their lives.
A total of 15 Airmen from the 9th Air Force died in a line of duty during the Normandy invasion.
“A proud legacy is born. Those men saved our way of life. They defeated tyranny. They ensured the existence of our society,” said Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commanding general of the U.S. European Command. “We honor their memory by recognizing how far we have come and continued to move forward together. Striving for a Europe old, free and at peace.”
No physical evidence of the airfield is visible today, but the memory and stories shared by the vets is heard throughout the same ground that they stood on in 1944, as two C-130 Hercules aircraft made multiple passes over this historic city.
As most of the veterans are well in to the 90s, the number of veterans visiting Normandy is decreasing due to their health. Most of the veterans were happy to make it this far to the 70th Anniversary.
“I want to thank the city of Picauville for their hospitality and working so hard to keep the memory of what happened 70 years ago alive,” said Breedlove.
“I would like to thank the veterans and family members in joining us and would like to thank them for what they did for the nation 70 years ago.”