MEMORIAL DAY; Navy and Normandy

Article excerpt

On this Memorial Day, it is appropriate to note the leadership shown by Jacksonville men to honor the sailors involved in D-Day.

Greg Streeter, a retired Navy captain, said the Naval Order of the United States led a drive to erect a monument to the U.S. Navy at Utah Beach in Normandy, France.

Most of the work has been finished. The dedication ceremony will be held on Sept. 27.

"Jacksonville has really been in the forefront of this project, and I think Jacksonville can take great pride in this," he said.

It's based on the surprise that of about 60 monuments at Normandy, there are none dedicated to the U.S. Navy.

That is based on the false assumption that the Navy did little more than bombard the beaches and ferry soldiers.

Actually, about one-fifth of all the casualties at D-Day were connected with the Navy, Streeter said. Eight ships were sunk.

Streeter said the fundraising operation turned out to be more difficult than planned. They raised about $400,000 in funds and in-kind services, such as transporting the sculpture from the United States to France.

Veterans networks helped spread the word.

The monument shows human figures rather than more common pillars or obelisks, Streeter said.

It shows three figures: a Navy captain in a take-charge pose; a sailor holding a shell during combat; and a sailor in combat gear illustrating combat demolition units that had to remove mines and landing obstacles before the assault. …