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    Beaches of Normandy Remembered by Navy Chaplain

    Beaches of Normandy Remembered by Navy Chaplain

    Photo By Douglas Stutz | Sands of a Hallowed Time Remembered...For Navy Lt. Shawn Redmon, Chaplain Corps and...... read more read more

    The sands of time on a stretch of beaches in Normandy, France became a hallowed opportunity for U.S. Navy Sailors back in 2019.

    To mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day - the allied invasion of Nazi held Europe - June 6, 1944, active duty servicemembers joined veterans, world leaders and VIPs to honor those lost and pay tribute to that historic date.

    For Navy Lt. Shawn Redmon, Chaplain Corps and former Naval Hospital Bremerton Pastoral Care department officer, the occasion to be there to take part in the remembrance of such a pivotal time in history was not mere happenstance.

    “It was divine intervention we were there,” recollected Redmon, then assigned to the guided missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). “We were part of Operation Formidable Shield and were in the area. Another ship was indisposed, and we were asked if we could support.”

    Roosevelt crewmembers took part in placing American and French flags at those laid to rest at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-Sur-Mer, France.

    Thousands of flags were needed for their solemn duty.

    “Although some of our younger Sailors might not have known the true significant of D-Day, they definitely learned about the importance and the loss which took place. It was a very somber moment. Many said afterwards being there was the most profound part of their Navy career,” related Redmon.

    On that fateful date as Operation Overlord began, approximately 175,000 men stormed ashore on the beaches of Normandy - codenamed Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword and Utah - from more than five thousand Navy ships and landing craft.

    Thousands never made it off that coastline. They fell in the surf, sand and shore.

    “Being there, we took in the entire area where D-Day took place. The beaches are vast. Much like along Washington’s Pacific coastline. There are still pillboxes fortified positions and gun emplacements visible,” said Redmon.

    “That entire area was just a killing field,” he added. “They were given an impossible task. But they did it.”

    D-Day casualty totals were grim: American forces suffered 2,499 dead, 3,184 wounded, 1,928 missing and 26 captured. British casualties were approx. 2,700 and Canadians at 946.

    German casualties are assessed as between 4,000 and 9,000. The total killed, wounded or missing from D-day to June 25, in what is regarded as the Battle of Normandy, for both sides, is 425,000. It’s also estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 French civilians were killed in Normandy, mostly from allied bombing.

    Redmon was also part of a unique inclusion to the 75th anniversary at Normandy. There was a special commemoration held for a Lone Sailor statue dedication on Utah Beach, in recognition of the Navy Seabees and Underwater Demolition Team Sailors who took part in the landing.

    “That was destiny. The chaplain originally arranged for couldn’t make it. Admiral James G. Foggo III, then commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa asked me to give the invocation. It was such an honor. One of my grandfathers was a Seabee in World Wat II,” shared Redmon, noting that the reverence shown by active-duty personnel and veterans representing numerous nations was also similar in the local populace.

    “One aspect I noticed was the involvement in all part of the anniversary by the local French and many other Europeans who came to take part,” explained Redmon. “Even down to the old WWII equipment which they had restored. It was easy to see that they had not forgotten the importance of the day and the sacrifices made by so many to help free their country.”

    Those sacrifices were part of the largest amphibious invasion in history. The Navy ships involved totaled 6,939 vessels with 1,213 combat ships, 4,126 landing ships/craft, 736 support ships and 864 merchant ships. The Navy provided direct combat support, logistical aid, and medical care from the waters of the North Atlantic onto that French coastline. The sea portion was dubbed Operation Neptune, with 195,700 naval personnel involved, led by 53,000 U.S. and 113,000 Brits. After five days, by June 11, 326,547 troops, 54,186 vehicles and 104,428 tons of supplies had been put ashore on those sandy beaches.

    Just walking on that seashore was a sobering moment and one which Redmon decided to take with him as a keepsake. He brought a small vial filled with that sand.

    “The sand is from Omaha [Beach] That was sacred ground. It was humbling to be there. I never thought in my life to have the opportunity to be there, especially on a Navy guided missile destroyer named after a legendary American president,” stated Redmon.

    It’s now been 79 years since D-Day. The number of veterans who took part – and survived – that date are fewer and fewer. Yet they have stood the test of time.

    Much like that sand they fought on.



    Date Taken: 06.06.2023
    Date Posted: 06.06.2023 12:20
    Story ID: 446319
    Location: BREMERTON , WA, US 

    Web Views: 108
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