US, Australian Sailors Honor D-Day in Persian Gulf

Originally at: , ABOARD USS NORMANDY, Persian Gulf, June 12, 2005

U.S. and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Sailors aboard USS Normandy (CG 60) stood side-by-side to honor World War II D-Day veterans during an early evening memorial ceremony June 6.

The hour-long service marked the 61st anniversary of allies storming the beaches of Normandy, France, June 6, 1944.

Normandy Sailors, who are forward deployed conducting maritime security operations (MSO), gathered on the fantail of the ship and listened to words of remembrance from the commanding officer and from family members of those who took part in the D-Day invasion.

“The battle of Normandy was one of the greatest battles in history and is the namesake of our ship,” said Capt. Stephen Hampton, commanding officer of the guided-missile cruiser. “We are honoring our World War II veterans not by just holding this ceremony, but by continuing their efforts of teamwork and working with multinational naval forces in the North [Persian] Gulf to accomplish our mission today.”

For some of the Sailors, like Normandy Strike Officer Ensign Adam Yost, the D-Day celebration gave them an opportunity to honor family members who served as part of what some call ‘The Greatest Generation.’

“My great uncle was a U.S. Army Ranger, and he was there during the invasion at Omaha Beach in Normandy,” said Yost. “It felt really good to address the crew on how our ship’s name and the memorial service tie in with the mission we have here in the North [Persian] Gulf.”

Sailors who participated and attended the ceremony said they gained insight on why the name of their ship is so important to the Navy and to the United States.

“I learned about the battle and when, where and why it happened,” said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Rennell Austria, Normandy honor guard member. “I have a better understanding why we are honoring those who came before us and the tough jobs they had to do.”

The ceremony concluded with a prayer, ‘Eternal Father,’ read by Normandy’s chaplain, a wreath-throwing and a 21-gun salute.

Normandy is the flagship for Commander, Task Force (CTF) 58. The task force includes British, Australian, and Iraqi coalition forces that protect and patrol the Persian Gulf. RAN Commodore Steve Gilmore commands the task force with approximately 15 RAN Sailors embarked aboard Normandy.

“The flagship’s mission is to detect, deter and deny any terrorist organizations or extremists posing a serious threat to key maritime infrastructures in the region, such as the Iraqi oil terminals,” said Gilmore.

MSO sets the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment. MSO complements the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations, and denies international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

By Journalist 3rd Class Joseph Ebalo, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs


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