Saturday, 22 June 2024

Sunday ceremony commemorates D-Day anniversary

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Local veterans, including several of Lake County's Pearl Harbor survivors, gather on Sunday, June 6, 2010, in Library Park in Lakeport, Calif., for the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Photo by Ginny Craven.



 

 

 

LAKEPORT – Veterans and friends gathered on Sunday morning to remember the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of France, which turned the tide of World War II.


All soldiers involved in D-Day – which occurred on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 – and World War II were honored on Sunday at the Pearl Harbor Survivors' memorial flag mast in Lakeport's Library Park.


Vanya Leighton, widow of Pearl Harbor veteran Fred Leighton; Bill Slater; Alice Darrow, widow of Pearl Harbor veteran Dean Darrow; Walter Urmann; Jim Harris, who was at both Pearl Harbor and D-Day; Bob White, an honorary Pearl Harbor Survivor; Jean Kyle; Bob Tucker; Gordon Craig; and Harry Graves were all honored as World War II veterans. Local pilot Paul “Bud” Roe also was in attendance.


Those who attended the ceremony sat under the summer sun listening to an Armed Forces medley album of music before the ceremony began. Everyone bowed for a prayer and stood for the pledge of allegiance, led by Sheriff Rod Mitchell.


The United Veterans Council's Military Funeral Honors Team was in attendance. Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Bogner announced that they have helped with 675 funerals to date since 2002.

 

 

 

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The United Veterans Council's Military Funeral Honors Team was on hand to offer a rifle volley during the Sunday ceremony. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 

 


The ceremony began as Bogner summarized some of the most important moments in the invasion of Normandy. Then, he told of his experience visiting the beaches where it all happened.


Last September, Bogner and friend Bill Brunetti visited Normandy. Knowing what the soldiers accomplished on that day, and actually seeing where it all took place, really put it into perspective for them, both men said.


“I decided to walk out on Omaha beach by myself. It was a solemn experience,” said Bogner.


While walking along the different beaches, Bogner collected several souvenirs – whole shells. He then framed the shells with a note of tribute to present to Jim Harris of Lucerne, who served aboard the USS McCook at the invasion.


Harris was grateful for such a meaningful gift, adding that both Bogner and his wife, Janeane – both honorary Pearl Harbor Survivors – “have extended beyond what most people would do.”


During the ceremony, Harris shared memories of Pearl Harbor.


“We at Pearl Harbor had no idea we were going to be a part of history,” he said. “We were just scared – caught us with our pants down!”

 

 

 

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Master of Ceremonies Ronnie Bogner presents some souvenirs he brought back from Normandy, France, in September 2009 to Pearl Harbor and D-Day veteran, Jim Harris of Lucerne, Calif., on Sunday, June 6, 2010. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 

 


County resident Bob Bartley was at the ceremony, in authentic World War II combat gear, to illustrate what kind of feat it was for the soldiers who were deployed amphibiously to reach the shore and continue on.


"I’d hate to be dropped into the water wearing this,” he said of his heavy clothing and pack, noting that many troops drowned because of the weight of their gear.


Once on those shores, the soldiers were flooded with crossfire from all over. Brunetti said he stood on the edge of the top of a cliff some of the soldiers had to scale to move forward, and he was baffled by the sheer size of that endeavor.


“How impossible it looked – I can’t imagine looking up from those guys’ perspectives on that day,” said Brunetti.

 

 

 

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Bob Bartley was on hand in an authentic World War II uniform complete with gear and rifle. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

 

 


He also attributed much of America’s success to a unique military procedure – field expediency.


Whereas many countries forbade action without an order from a superior, the American military had permission to think for themselves if they were separated from their leader – or if the leader was killed, he explained.


“When I got back, I was so very proud to be an American,” said Brunetti.


E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

 

 

 

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Bill Brunetti recounts his trip to Normandy, France, in September 2009 on Sunday, June 6, 2010, in Library Park in Lakeport, Calif., during the commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Photo by Ginny Craven.
 

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