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Ceremony to Honor Soldiers Who Fought in D-Day Invasion

Saturday's event at the Veterans Memorial Building will mark the 65th anniversary of the battle

A remembrance ceremony and luncheon honoring the soldiers who fought during the D-Day invasion will be held Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Building, in tribute to the 65th anniversary of the battle.

“I walked across that beach,” retired Air Force Gen. F. Michael Rogers said. “We have to remember these types of events and how we stood up for our rights and freedoms.”

Rogers, an 87-year-old Montecito resident, joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and was a P-51 aircraft pilot during World War II. He also served in Korea and Vietnam during his 36-year military career.

“It’s the proper thing to honor the dead,” Rogers said.

Although no official number exists, the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth, England, estimates that 2,500 allied forces were killed in the battle.

Retired Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Forties, a fellow WWII veteran, also believes in the importance of these types of events, since “(schools) don’t even teach it anymore.”

“Some don’t even know who we fought or what we were doing there,” Forties said.

The June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler is believed by many to be the turning point of the war and was led by allied forces from the Untied States, Britain and Canada. The successful invasion involved more than 1 million soldiers and led to the eventual demise of Hitler’s regime.

Embassy representatives from Britain, Canada and France have committed to attend Saturday’s event.

“(The event) will honor the guys who went in and the allies,” event director John Blankenship said.

Seven vintage military airplanes will fly over the Memorial Building, at 112 W. Cabrillo Blvd., about 1:15 p.m., he said. Three vintage armored vehicles will be displayed, and people dressed in WWII-style military attire also are set to blend in.

A 30-minute video presentation will be shown with film clips from Saving Private Ryan and the Band of Brothers series.

“I would like people to come out and say this was a great event,” Blankenship said.

The program will start at 11 a.m., with lunch served at noon. Blankenship expects 150 to 200 people to attend.

The event is free for veterans and $20 for general admission.

Reservations are encouraged and can be done by calling 805.966.1660. The event is sponsored by Santa Barbara Bank & Trust.

If the remembrance goes well, Blankenship plans to host similar events in the future, first by honoring the fallen from the Battle of Britain, the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Guadalcanal in the next three years, when each will have its 70th anniversary.

Noozhawk intern Kenny Lindberg can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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