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Little Rock AFB airlift squadrons attend 74th D-Day anniversary

Pilots pose in flight suits for photo along side World War 2 D-Day survivor wearing world war 2 uniform and bomber jacket.

Service members from Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., meet D-Day survivor, Dennis Thompson June 1, 2018, at the Memorial Hancock Field Cabbage Patch, Carentan, France. Survivors who were in good health attended the event to honor their fallen comrades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Grace Nichols)

World War 2 survivor wearing World War 2 uniform shakes hands with Man in current Air Force flightsuit

Maj. Nathan Rieber, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot, speaks to D-Day survivor Dennis Thompson, June 1, 2018, at the Memorial Hancock Field Cabbage Patch, Carentan, France. Survivors who were in good health attended the event to honor their fallen comrades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Grace Nichols)

Original World War 2 hat being showed to U.S. Airmen

D-Day survivor Dennis Thompson shows his original World War II-era Army Air Corps hat to Maj. Nathan Rieber, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot, during the memorial June 1, 2018, at the Hancock Field Cabbage Patch, Carentan, France.

 Three airlift squadrons and support personnel from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, embarked on an historic journey to Normandy, France, to support the 74th D-Day Anniversary remembrance events from May 30 to June 6, 2018.
Aircrew from the 41st, 61st and 62nd Airlift Squadrons and maintainers from the 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, along with other DoD service members, dropped U.S. Special Operations operators, U.S. Army paratroopers and coalition forces during commemorative flyovers as well as participating in other memorial events.
Local festivities surrounding Sainte Mere-Eglise – one of the first towns liberated by the Allies during World War II – honored the both the Greatest Generation veterans as well as military members currently serving. Local residents and thousands of tourists all came together to touch a piece of history and to see the legacy continued by today’s military.
"The anniversary of D-Day is very important to the French of Normandy," said Jean Luis Cauvin, Ozeville mayor, a town near Sainte Mere-Eglise. "United States Service members gave us our liberty."
Service members from the German military were in attendance at many of the ceremonies. Their presence highlights how crucial it is for all to remember what happened 74 years ago. Through remembrance, civilization will not soon forget the lessons learned through the shedding blood.
"Reconciliation can turn enemy into ally and opponent into friend," said Maj. Gen. Jon "Ty" Thomas, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration director of operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa. "Today we stand here as allies."
The somber experience served as a reminder to service members and civilians to honor the memories of those before them.
"You my fellow (service members) are an example of the heroism displayed in the air and on the ground in the early hours of June 6, 1944," Thomas said. "It’s our obligation and our privilege to defend liberty just as those who have gone before us have done."
Every year, commemorative events honor the Greatest Generation of service members and leaves a lasting reminder to the current generation of the torch that was passed to them they must now carry.
"This event was important because it allowed us to honor the service members who gave their lives for the people of Normandy, France," said Airman 1st class Chelsey Johnson, 41st Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "Getting to meet people who were directly affected by D-Day was an eye-opening experience."
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