Today is the 68th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, the Allies landed 160,000 troops on the beaches of northwest France, near Caen. On the day alone, there were 9,000 casualties, the first installment of the price of victory in the Battle of Normandy. By the end of the battle, more than 209,000 soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and other countries had been killed or wounded, along with uncounted thousands of their German foes. It was the beginning of the long journey to Berlin and the end for the Adolf Hitler and his Nazi empire.
In honor of the anniversary, the Ford Motor Company Fund sponsored two Honor Flights for about 75 World War II veterans from Michigan and Kentucky, flying them to Washington, D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial.
The veterans, all in their late 80s and 90s, and their guardians received a festive airport send-off from Ford employees and others. After arriving in Washington, the vets were greeted by members of Congress and Ford employees at the Memorial, and received letters of appreciation from Ford employees, family members and others.
Among the veterans was 88-year-old Frank Kurtycz of Canton, Michigan, shown above talking with Ford Motor Credit Chairman and CEO Mike Bannister shortly before boarding the Ford Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. After his service in the military, Kurtjcz spent 52 years with Ford.
“The sacrifice and bravery of these soldiers serve as a lesson for all of us,” said Bannister. “It is particularly fitting to acknowledge their service on the anniversary of D-Day, a crucial point in the war that took such a high toll on our troops.”
The Fund also announced a $200,000 grant to the Disabled American Veterans Transportation Network for the purchase of eight vehicles. A total of 164 Ford vehicles are now in the DAV fleet for transporting disabled veterans. This is in addition to $50,000 in grants for DAV’s Winter Sports Clinic and the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship Program. The No. 21 Ford Fusion driven by Trevor Bayne at a NASCAR Memorial Day weekend race sported the DAV logo in honor of Ford’s longstanding partnership with DAV, which includes more than $6.5 million in donations since 1996.
“Ford is one of our nation’s great institutions, and for 90 years they’ve honored the brave heroes who have sacrificed for our nation,” said DAV National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson. “There is something uniquely American about the commitment and loyalty they’ve shown our cause and we’re grateful for our partnership which has made a difference for generations of veterans and their families.”