Carentan, France – 85 Soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) which include many from the world-famous 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment highlighted in the book and TV show “Band of Brothers,” are in Normandy, France this week to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the WWII Allied invasion of Normandy, commonly known as D-Day.
The “Screaming Eagle” Soldiers will participate in a wide range of parades, ceremonies, and military and government events.
- Carentan Battlefield Tour in Carentan. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division will meet at the Carentan Theater to take part in a tour of the city and battle sites of Carentan.
- Airfield dedication to Brig. Gen. Don Pratt, assistant commander, 101st Airborne Division The life support area of Joint Task Force 75, supporting D-Day commemorations in Normandy, is named for Pratt, the highest-ranking Allied Soldier killed on D-Day.
- Magnesville Ceremony in Magnesville. Service members will commemorate 18 paratroopers of the 506th PIR of the 101st Airborne Division and four C-47 transport crewmembers who were shot down on June 6th, 1944. A memorial was established by residents of Magnesville in 1948.
- Carentan Family Dinners. Soldiers hosted for dinner by French families in their homes.
- Pathfinder Ceremony in Saint Germain de Vauville. To commemorate the arrival of the first Pathfinders to the village. Capt. Frank Lillyman of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, is recognized by many as the first American scout to set foot on French soil on D-Day at 12:16am.
- “Cabbage Patch” Ceremony and parade in Carentan. The “Cabbage Patch” WWII parachute drop, commemoration ceremony and parade honors the 101st Airborne Division paratroopers who fought the Germans in the cabbage patches surrounding Carentan.
- MAJ Winters’ Monument in Saint Marie du Mont. To honor Maj. Richard D. Winters, who led paratroopers from Company E, 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division during the D-Day landings. This event was recounted in television mini-series “Band of Brothers”
- Normandy American Cemetery Ceremony in Carentan. To honor those who died during the D-Day landings and recognize the Veterans who lived on. On June 8th, 1944, the U.S. First Army established a site here as the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. It contains the graves of 9,380 Soldiers, most of whom lost their lives during the D-Day landings and ensuing operations
- Mass Reenlistment Ceremony in Carentan. Twenty-two Screaming Eagle Soldiers will conduct a U.S. Army reenlistment ceremony, led by 101st Airborne Division Commander Maj. Gen. Brian Winski. The ceremony will be arranged in the same manner as a June 20th, 1944 ceremony in which then Div. Commander Maj. Gen. Maxwell Taylor presented awards to Screaming Eagle Soldiers in the Carentan Town Square, after the city’s liberation.
- Cole Monument in Carentan. The section of the Old National Road 13 between Carentan and Saint-Come-du-Mont is named “Purple Heart Lane” to recognize the 101st Airborne Division for their valiant efforts in June 1944.
- E-506 Airborne Monument in Buezeville au Plain. To honor the Soldiers of the 506th PIR whose plane crashed near Beuzeville-au-Plain after being hit by a German anti-aircraft fire, there were no survivors.
- Liberation Ceremony in Angoville au Plain. To commemorate the medic post that was settled in Angoville-au-Plain where entrenched Germans kept American forces in check. American Soldiers overcame the German defenses and Col. Robert F. Sink, commander, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division, transferred his headquarters to the town.
- Return of Liberty Marchers Ceremony in Carentan. In honor of the paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division, the Legion of Honor Award will be presented to U.S. Veterans. Following the ceremony, troops, vintage vehicles, Veterans and distinguished visitors will parade to city hall.
- Carentan Swamp Ceremony in Carentan. To honor the 101st Airborne Division Soldiers who battled through marshy areas of Carentan and captured a vital position between Omaha and Utah beaches.
The 101st Airborne Division was activated on August 16th, 1942 at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. Its first commanding general, Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, noted that the division had no history, but that it had a “Rendezvous with Destiny,” and that the new division would be habitually called into action when the need was “immediate and extreme.” Throughout its 77-year history, the division has amassed a proud record, in both war and peace, unmatched by any other unit.
After a month of fighting, the division returned to England for future operations. They were continually called upon during critical WWII battles such as Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, and the liberation of the Landsberg concentration camp and Hitler’s mountaintop retreat in Bertchtesgaden.
Seventy-five years after D-Day, the 101st Airborne Division continues to stand together with European allies and partners in maintaining a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous, and at peace. This is most recently seen in our current deployment as “Task Force Carentan” – 101st Airborne Division Soldiers working to advise and assist the Ukrainian Armed Forces with the continued development of the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine. This initiative, known as the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine (JMTG-U), has been ongoing since 2015 and seeks to contribute to Ukraine’s internal defense capabilities and training capacity.