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    South Carolina National Guard participates in Normandy staff ride

    Normandy staff ride

    Photo By Capt. William Duvall | Members of the 678th ADA BDE, South Carolina National Guard, study the Pegasus Bridge...... read more read more

    NORMANDY, France – Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers from the 678th Air Defense Artillery (ADA BDE), South Carolina National Guard, studied the details of the Battle of Normandy; beach landings, air defense arenas, airborne arenas, strategic, political and operational stances of each of their U.S. Army counter parts during this World War II battle, led by Lieutenant Gen. Jonathon Riley (R), British Army, September 4 - 7, with a staff ride to Normandy, France.

    Initially, the 678th ADA BDE studied several PDF files and a nearly 100 page synopsis of the battles to include maps, equipment/weapons used, and detailed day-by-day breakdowns of the invasion, weeks before leaving their BDE headquarters, Katterbach Kaserne, Germany.

    An intense 4 day tour took the members of the 678th ADA to; the glider-borne Pegasus Bridge, Douvres Radar Museum, St. Croix expeditionary air field, Ste-Marie du Mont, Utah Beach museum, Ste-Mere Eglise, a walking Hedge row class, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, the US Military Cemetery and the Caen-Carpiquet airfield.

    “Pointe du Hoc had tons of history and was by far my favorite, simply because of the construction and the significance of the story behind it,” shared Spc. Garrett Hudson. “To actually be able to walk on top of the bunkers and to have the tour guide we did was amazing and I am grateful for the opportunity to go and it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.”

    The staff ride was comprised of Officers and NCOs from the 678th ADA BDE, 5-7 ADA BN and a subordinate unit from Israel, totaling 41 soldiers partaking in this educational opportunity.

    “This staff ride was truly amazing, surreal and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the soldiers of the 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Mission Command Element and some of its subordinate formations,” said Col. Richard A. Wholey Jr., Commander, 678th ADA BDE. “It provided the team an opportunity to study Allied and German Air Defense tactics, techniques, and principles; analyze the battle from their respective war fighter functions; and gain a profound appreciation for what our grandfathers endured to protect our way of life.”

    The Normandy beaches are located on the northern edge of France, nearly 100 miles from Portsmouth, England. Normandy was a historical significance to the allied forces as they were trying to regain a foothold on the European mainland after German forces had seized it. This foothold would allow the allied forces to begin the systematic retaking of Europe, without it, the war may have been lost. The battle was to be broken down into several landing areas; Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold, and Sword. The invasion started on June, 6, 1944, where over 10,000 troops were lost or never recovered.

    Staff Sgt. James Arnold was one of three soldiers receiving an Army Commendation Medal while at Omaha Beach. He received his commendation for outstanding contributions as the Battle NCO, during the Saber Strike exercise, June, 2018, Poland.

    “It is always an honor to be recognized by your peers for your work and the duty you perform to the mission,” Arnold shared. “To add to it, it was a humbling experience to be awarded on the beach of Omaha.”

    There is a level of logistical preparation leading up to and planning a staff ride. One area of preparation is obtaining funding for a staff ride. This funding depends on the level of your command, a battalion or a brigade and on the number of soldiers you wish to bring.

    “The process was relatively simple, USAEUR has a process that once you get approval, you get a contractor and they guide you from there,” said Ltc. Ed Michels, 678th ADA BDE, G-8. “I highly recommend anybody that has the opportunity for their unit, to take advantage of the numerous staff rides offered. “

    The USAEUR portal has the menus dealing with the staff ride opportunities.

    “Personally, this (Normandy) has been a place where I have wanted to go my whole life. I have read and studied, but you cannot appreciate it until you are actually on the beach and in the area to see what the soldiers were up against,” adds Michels. “The trip was beyond words.”

    The 678th ADA BDE, South Carolina National Guard, is the first Air Defense Brigade in theater since the stand down of the cold war in 1989. They are a rotational force, standing up the new brigade headquarters, Katterbach Kaserne, Germany.



    Date Taken: 09.12.2018
    Date Posted: 09.12.2018 07:27
    Story ID: 292348
    Location: DE

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