By Senior Airman Mercedes Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
NORMANDY, France – In commemoration of the 72nd Anniversary of D-Day, U.S. Airmen from the 48th Airlift Squadron and 62nd Airlift Squadron of the 314th Airlift Wing from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, transported on June 5, 2016, more than 60 U.S. Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., and the 173rd Airborne Brigade from Vicenza, Italy, over the “Iron Mike” Monument and La Fiere Drop Zone in Normandy, France.
The airdrops of paratroopers symbolizing the role the 314th Troop Carrier Group – the 314th AW’s predecessor -- played during the Normandy invasion of World War II. During the invasion, the 314th TCG delivered paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division over Normandy, France. This is the first time the 314th AW has been able to participate in the D-Day commemorative events.
This year, festivities were held in the local communities surrounding St. Mere-Eglise, one of the first French towns liberated by the Allies during World War II. These events, which began June 1, 2016, and continued up to the grand commemoration on June 6, 2016, highlighted just how important remembering the importance of what happened 72 years ago and how crucial it is to not repeat the past. 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.
“Seeing so many people come together and appreciate what we do makes me appreciate what I do even more,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Rachel Stewart, 314th Operations Group C-130J loadmaster. “It also makes me realize the impact of our roles, not just on an Air Force level, but on a global level.”
This year the 48th AS will be deactivated in September making their participation in this year’s commemorative events especially poignant.
“It’s a big year for the 314th AW,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Bryan Lucas, 314th OG C-130J pilot. “Participating in the anniversary is bittersweet. The 62nd AS is transitioning from the C-130H to the C-130J while the 48th is standing down. It’s wonderful to see these two squadrons who flew over Normandy in 1944 can fly one more time here.”