Ceremony Honors Forgotten Vets Of 'Operation Dragoon'
(August 17, 2009)
|FORT MYER, Va. (ANS, Aug. 13, 2009) -- Thirty
World War II veterans from across the country traveled to Arlington National
Cemetery Aug. 5, for the first formal U.S. ceremony honoring veterans who
participated in Operation Dragoon, the allied invasion of Southern France in
August of 1944.|
|More than 20 veterans from Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France, salute during the playing of the national anthem. Most of the morning was spent commemorating the operation, which took place in August of 1944, and along with the invasion at Normandy, helped turn the tide to the Allies' favor. Photo Credit: Alex McVeigh, August 5, 2009
Scholars and historians often refer to Operation Dragoon as the forgotten D-day.
Dr. Jeffrey Clarke, director of the Center of Military History in Washington,
D.C., said, "Operation Dragoon took place both geographically and
chronologically between two much larger allied efforts in northern France and
Italy - both its conduct and its contributions have been largely ignored."
Monica Stoy, retired Army captain, military sociologist and president of
Operation Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, and her husband, Lt.
Col. Tim Stoy, organized events for the 65th Anniversary of Operation Dragoon.
Stoy said she and her husband worked hard to have as many veterans who fought in
Southern France in attendance as they could find, as well as their family
members and friends.
"These veterans have gone unrecognized for 64 years, and we really want to
correct that in this 65th anniversary year," Monica Stoy said. "Sadly, so very
few Americans know of the Aug. 15, 1944, landing in Southern France."
Boy Scouts from across the country attended the event to help veterans traveling
to and from the ceremony. The scouts assisted with everything from offering
directions to making sure the veterans had enough water, juice or sodas to
"I have never been to a ceremony like this in my life, and I'm so very proud and
honored to be here to serve the veterans," said Adam Summers, a scout attending
A number of Soldiers from the Fort Myer Military Community volunteered to help
with the Operation Dragoon ceremonies, from escorting the veterans into the
Memorial Amphitheater to having lunch with them at the Fort Myer Officers' Club.
An event of this magnitude was no small feat for its organizers.
"As we organized this ceremony we contacted more than 2,000 veterans - the
response was tremendous," Stoy said.
"Every veteran we spoke to expressed sincere gratitude for this effort to
recognize Operation Dragoon and the fight in Southern France," she said.
"Many told me that they would truly love to be here today, but that it is just
too late, they are too old and frail to travel so far anymore, such as Walter
Tatko of 3rd Infantry Division, Mechanized, and Joseph Cicchinelli. So we are
especially blessed that these veterans are here with us - from Canada, from
California, Michigan, Kansas, Louisiana, ages 86 to 92," Stoy said.
Throughout the ceremony retirees, guests and speakers were heard shouting out,
"Rock of the Marne," back and forth to one other - a nickname given to 3rd ID
because of the stance the division took while protecting Paris on the banks of
the Marne River during World War I.
The ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was followed by wreath layings at
the Tomb of the Unknowns and at the 3rd ID monument, and a remembrance at the
grave of Sgt. Audie Murphy, the most highly decorated U.S. Soldier of World War
The ceremony concluded with a luncheon and an historical roundtable discussion
at the Fort Myer Officers' Club. This time was also used for closing remarks
from veterans, friends and family members attending the event.
"I was in with the landing in France in 1944," said Floyd Kruszka, a retired
sergeant and veteran of the 3rd Infantry Division, 9th Field Artillery Regiment.
"I am honored and grateful to be here today. We helped put an end to World War
II, and I wish my fellow Soldiers who have passed could be here today. But I
know they're watching from up above," Kruszka said.
The U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute commendation program honored veterans of
Operation Dragoon by giving each veteran a certificate of appreciation and a
commendation letter signed by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Chief of
Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Article and photo by Christina Mennella
Pentagram newspaper at Fort Myer, VA
from Army News Service
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