Normandy Commemorating the Regiment's role in D-Day
On 14 June 2001, 6 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment from Fort Riley, Kansas took part in a ceremony in France commemorating the 16th Infantry Regiment's role in the D-day landings of June 6, 1944.
The trip was at the invitation of COL (ret) Gerald K. Griffin, Honorary Colonel of the 16th Infantry Regiment. Through then Battalion Commander LTC Keith R. Lovejoy III, the Division Commander, Major General John Craddock, and the Division Command Sergeant Major, CSM Cory McCarty, authorization was gained to send a color guard from Fort Riley, Kansas to take part in the Ceremonies at Omaha Beach.
Attending from the 16th Infantry were 1SG Raymond Deien, SSG Kip Reitz, SSG Rodney Davis, SGT Daniel Cunningham, SGT Cleveland Butler, and SGT Frank Rawls.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to meet and speak with veterans of the Regiment who participated in the D-day landings. One veteran, Harley Reynolds of St. Petersburg, FL, said, "I've thought for years that the story should be told while it could be substantiated. We're not going to live forever".
The color guard took part in many ceremonies during the weeklong stay. The main ceremony, however was to dedicate a plaque honoring the sacrifices of the men of the 16th Infantry Regiment along a sector of Omaha Beach inaptly named 'Easy Red'. The plaque, a beautiful bronze monument, is located at the Omaha Beach Golf Club and states that France was liberated on June 6, 1944 in part through the valiant and heroic efforts of the men of the 16th Infantry. The plaque also reminds all who read it that 'Freedom isn't free'.
The color guard also took part in a retreat ceremony at the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. It is in this cemetery that a 16th Infantry Medal of Honor recipient, 1Lt Jimmie Montieth, is buried. After the ceremony, several locals and people visiting the ceremony thanked the veterans and color guard, visibly moved.
The trip was a great opportunity for the current men of the 16th Infantry to pay tribute to the veterans of the Regiment. Each man came away from the trip with something different, but all came back with renewed respect for those who came before them.