WASHINGTON, July 22, 2012 – A group of World War II veterans was
recognized in a ceremony held for their gallantry during a 1944
combat operation in southern France.
Operation Dragoon lasted
from Aug. 15 until Sept. 14, 1944. It was the second largest
amphibious invasion of World War II, with over 1,000 ships
delivering three divisions of troops to the beaches of France.
Additionally, an airborne division parachuted into the country to
help secure beach heads along with Greek, Polish and Dutch forces,
according to retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Timothy Stoy, historian for
the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division.
U.S. Army World War II veterans of
Operation Dragoon and Members of the Military District of
Washington's Sgt. Audie L. Murphy Club, the Society of the 3rd
Infantry Division, and the military attach� to the French Embassy
pose following a remembrance ceremony honoring the success of
Operation “Dragoon” held Arlington, Va., July 21, 2012. DOD photo by
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division hosted the
ceremony honoring veterans who fought during the operation.
French Army Col. Brice Houdet, military attach� from the
French Embassy, presented the French Legion of Honor during
the ceremony to retired U.S. soldiers John Singlaub, Paul
Donlon, Darryl Egner, Elias Hernandez, Michael Halik and the
son of Stanley Siemrzuch.
Before presenting the
French awards, Houdet thanked the group of veterans on
behalf of the people of France.
“I would like to
salute all of the American allied veterans who took part in
that momentous operation 68 years ago,” he said. “We are
deeply honored to have some of you with us today.”
will have the distinct honor to present six of these highly
deserving former service members with the Legion of Honor,
France's highest national honor and distinction, for their
outstanding services during World War II,” Houdet said.
The six award recipients were all accompanied by members
of the Military District of Washington's Sgt. Audie L.
Murphy Club, representing the connection to Murphy and the
3rd Infantry Division in which he served.
ceremony, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Edd Watson, currently
the command sergeant major of the 3rd Infantry Division,
narrated a Missing in Action presentation, and explained the
items on a table displayed to honor fallen soldiers.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Randy E. Manner, Joint Staff director
for the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Operation
Dragoon may not be as well known as some other World War II
operations, but it should be remembered for its strategic
“Sometimes, the voice of history does not
speak as loudly about some events such as Operation
Dragoon,” Manner said.
“So that's our job today ... to
be that voice and to speak loudly about those great
successes all those many years ago,” he said. “Those
gathered here ... know the strategic value of Operation
Manner, whose father served under Singlaub,
a retired Army major general, noted Operation Dragoon was
critical because it opened a much-needed supply line into
France for the allies to “continue to smash the Nazis.”
“History records that over 90,000 soldiers and over
11,000 vehicles were on the beach, on the ground, within
days,” he said. “The bottom line is the operation
significantly contributed to the shortening of the war in
Europe, which meant, of course, the shortening and the
lessening of the number of lives that were lost and the
number of the families that were affected.”
Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, director of operations,
readiness and mobilization for the Department of the Army,
thanked all of the veterans present for their sacrifice and
“tremendous” service to the country.
“Although not as
well known as Operation Overlord, Operation Dragoon was a
highlight of the second World War for many in our military,”
he said. “[It was] one of the most successful combined joint
operations in the European theater.
“Today, we take
fighting as a joint team, alongside our sister services, for
granted, just as we've come to count on our multi-national
allies to be there in operations around the world today,”
Vandal said. “But on Aug. 15, 1944, in the early days of the
liberation of Europe, such a level of cooperation was far
Vandal called the allied forces a
“vanguard” of history who forged a path “for all of us to
“Some historians have mistakenly called
Operation Dragoon the ‘forgotten D-Day,' particularly in
comparison to the larger and more famous invasions of
Normandy,” he said. “In fact, some have even gone so far as
to imply that the operation was easy – merely a cakewalk.
“Sgt. Audie Murphy, from the 3rd Infantry Division,
might disagree with this characterization,” Vandal said.
“Given that he earned a Distinguished Service Cross during
Operation Dragoon, I think it speaks for itself [and what
Vandal noted allied forces of Operation
Dragoon advanced more than 500 miles in less than a month
and took more than 100,000 Germans prisoner.
“Overlooked by history or not, Operation Dragoon was a
pivotal moment in the history of France, a fact well
understood by all of you veterans sitting here today,” he
Vandal, a former member of 3rd Infantry
Division himself, expressed his appreciate for all World War
“All of our veterans are a national
treasure, and we are all fortunate to be in their presence,”
he said. “They have left a legacy for our Army and our
nation to follow.”
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
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