June 5, 2019
“Tomorrow, a number of us will be traveling from Washington to France, to Normandy, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday. We will commemorate the heroic, selfless efforts of a courageous group of Allied forces. And we will honor all of our World War II veterans.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) recently spoke on the Senate floor to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and honor Wyoming’s veterans who took part in the D-Day landings.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“Tomorrow, a number of us will be traveling from Washington to France, to Normandy, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday. We will commemorate the heroic, selfless efforts of a courageous group of Allied forces. And we will honor all of our World War II veterans.
“The 156,000 Americans and British and Canadian troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on that fateful day, June 6, 1944, turned the tide to win the war in Europe.
“Launched from England, the Allied landing in France was carefully planned and really brilliantly executed. In his D-Day message to the troops, General Dwight David Eisenhower instilled confidence.
“His message was this: ‘The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.’
“That was the message from General Eisenhower.
“Because of the tremendous sacrifices of our Allied forces, Nazi Germany surrendered unconditionally less than a year later, on May 7, 1945.
“The price for European peace and security proved high. In all, there were 4,414 Allied deaths on D-Day alone -- 2,501 Americans were killed that day. Allied deaths in the Battle of Normandy, which lasted until August, topped 226,000.
“Now, 75 years later, thousands of veterans and world leaders will gather on that hallowed ground to honor the self-sacrificing soldiers who fought for our freedom.
“My home state of Wyoming lost five of its finest sons on D-Day. I want to recognize these heroes who never made it home: Private Raymond Dahlman, Private First Class Thompson Dicks, Private Thomas Offutt, Jr., Private First Class Steven Serkovich, and Private Jack Simpson.
“I also salute Wyoming's 602 living World War II veterans, including my wife Bobbi's father, Bob Brown of Thermopolis, WY, who served not only in World War II in Europe and then was sent to the Pacific, but he was also called up to serve our nation once again in the Korean war.
“In all, 16 million Americans fought in World War II. More than 400,000 U.S. service members were killed in the war. And most of those who returned home have now passed away.
“So today I want to highlight one of my home state's D-Day heroes who died five years ago at the age of 92: SSG Chester ‘Chet'’ Stephens of Glenrock, WY.
“Chet was born in Casper, WY, in 1921 and moved with his family to a ranch south of Glenrock.
“At 21, he was called to serve in the Army in World War II, joining the 161st Field Artillery Battalion. Chet supplied ammunition to the battery throughout the war.
“The 161st landed on Normandy's Omaha Beach in the third wave and fought the Nazis for months.
“Chet was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism in crossing a flooded road to deliver ammunition to his stranded comrades.
“His battalion stopped only seven miles from Berlin, Germany, before he returned home to Glenrock and to his lifelong love of family ranching. In fact, he was still ranching at age 92 when he died in 2014.
“So I’ll be thinking of Wyoming's D-Day heroes and all of our state's World War II veterans during the tribute at Normandy.
“I’ll also be thinking of my dad. He was part of the Liberation of France, fighting in the pivotal Battle of the Bulge.
“I will carry his dog tags with me when I go overseas, the dog tags that he wore during World War II in the Liberation of France.
“I’ll also carry with me the medal that was given to the brave soldiers who fought in the Liberation of France.
“The medal says ‘1944.’ There is a chain around France with breaks in the chain, and on the back, it says ``la France''; it says ``liberateurs''-- the Liberation of France.
“I will also have with me the missal he carried, his prayer book. It says: My Military Missal. There is a crucifix on the front and on the back, a rosary, the crucifix, and then the beads that were elevated in the printing so that one could, in a foxhole, in a time of war , with this in your pocket, pray to your Lord and God.
“You know, from the time I was a little boy, my dad would always say: ‘John, you should thank God every day because you live in America. You don't know how fortunate you are.’
“We are truly blessed to live in this great country, and it is due to the selfless actions of our troops--those brave soldiers who risked their lives--and many gave their lives for the rest of us.
“As President Franklin Roosevelt said in his D-Day prayer: ‘Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization.’
“We must never forget those who fought for our freedoms. So many gave their lives to protect our way of life.
“We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to our Gold Star families and the sacrifices of those families and of their loved ones.
“So on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, it’s a time to remember all our brave service men and women, to reflect on their faithful service to this country, and to recall the sacrifices that they have made and continue to make in defense of this great nation.
“Let me close by saying, God bless our troops who fought and died in World War II. God bless our service members, veterans, and their families. And God bless, yes, the United States of America.”