By Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Damon Grosvenor
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) hosted a reception on the flight deck to honor the sacrifices of the U.S., French and Allied Soldiers and Sailors who participated in Operation Dragoon on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of France, Aug. 15, 2019.
Operation Dragoon, known as the “Forgotten Invasion,” was the Allied landings in Southern France on August 15, 1944. A total of 450,000 Sailors and Soldiers participated and removed German forces, immediately liberating Marseille and Toulon. Casualties included 3,000 American service members and 10,000 French service members. Allied forces included: US, UK, Canada, Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, and Madagascar.
“I’d like to welcome each of you to our ship and say how thrilled we are to be here in Theoule-Sur-Mer commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Southern France,” said Cmdr. Kelley T. Jones, commanding officer of Donald Cook. “This is our second time here for these ceremonies, and it’s always a great honor to participate.”
U.S. Consul General in Marseilles Simon Hakinson also spoke at the event.
“We are here to remember Soldiers and Sailors from U.S., French, and Allied forces who made the ultimate sacrifice 75 years ago today,” said Hakinson. “The battle here in Theoule-Sur-Mer is not a well-remembered battle, but by being here today commemorating those fallen brothers we do them honor.”
The men and women of the U.S. military remain forever indebted to World War II veterans who demonstrated the selfless service and sacrifice that characterizes the Greatest Generation in defense of global peace and security.
France holds a special place for Americans, dating back to the Revolutionary War. More than two million U.S. service members came to France in defense of our shared liberties in WWI. Of these, more than 68,000 service members are buried or memorialized at American cemeteries in France.
To commemorate the anniversary of Operation Dragoon, multi-national service members are participating in approximately 25 ceremonies from Aug. 14-17 throughout six French communities in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of Southern France.
This is Donald Cook’s ninth forward-deployed naval forces patrol since arriving at Naval Station Rota, Spain, in February 2014.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.