WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) took the Senate floor to commemorate North Carolina’s critical role in the Allied invasion of Normandy and the liberation of Europe during World War II.
Tillis noted that it was the paratroopers of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division who led the early morning invasion of Normandy. In spite of the bad weather and German antiaircraft fire, the paratroopers of the 82nd succeeded in capturing important crossroads, which prevented German panzer units from reaching the beaches of Normandy.
Tillis also gave thanks to the 29th Infantry Division, known as “the Blue and the Gray Division,” a National Guard unit comprised of soldiers from North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. By the evening of June 6, 1944, more than 1,000 soldiers from the 29th had become casualties on Omaha Beach.
“North Carolina was at Normandy that day. At 1:51 am, Fort Bragg’s, 82nd Airborne Division, under the command of Major General Matthew Ridgeway and Brigadier General James Gavin, began the fight,” said Senator Tillis. “The people of North Carolina remember the soldiers of D-Day and their comrades from other battlefields of that war. On the Cape Fear River sits the USS North Carolina, the most decorated battleship of World War II. It is not a museum. It is a reminder, it is our memorial. The names of over 10,000 North Carolinians who paid the ultimate price are set on the walls of that great ship. In President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words, ‘They fought not for the lust of conquest. They fought to end conquest. They fought to liberate.’”