Allen B. West

Veterans get the shaft again: France breaks promise to fund D-Day travel

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Next month is the 70th anniversary of the greatest invasion in the history of military operations, Operation Overlord, D-Day, 6 June 1944. The Allied forces under command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the endeavor to liberate the continent of Europe from the stranglehold of the Nazi Germany: De Opresso Libre, the motto of the U.S. Special Forces today. The United States, along with British, French, and Canadian forces hit the stormy beaches of Normandy at places now known as Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha.

I had the honor of serving in the 4th Infantry Division which landed at Utah beach and the 1st Infantry Division who, along with the 29th Infantry Division landed at Omaha beach. The evening prior, American paratroopers of the 82d Airborne Division (All American) and the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) jumped in behind the beachhead to secure key lines of communications and silence German 88mm guns.

And who can ever forget the “Boys of Point du Hoc” — the 2d Ranger Battalion who scaled those heights to suppress German gun emplacements.

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It was heroic and monumental, and this year the West family will head back to Ft. Riley Kansas for the 16th Infantry Regiment dinner, where we shall commemorate this great day.

In France this year, President Obama and French President François Hollande will preside over the anniversary and the presentation of Legion of Honor medals, France’s highest honor to American veterans. However, France has broken its promise to pay for the vets to fly to this year’s commemoration according to the New York Post.

Sadly, the French have recently agreed to sell new naval warships to Russia, but they can’t cough up the change to host the veterans, now in their 90s, who saved them.

“France was supposed to pay for our airfare, hotel and transportation,” said Theresa Tarangelo, whose father, Felice John Tulli, fought in the offensive. “Now they’re telling us they have nothing to do with it . . . It’s really frustrating.”

Army Master Sgt. Manuel Perez, a coordinator of the event and a liaison between veterans’ families and the French government said “it was common knowledge” that France was footing the bill for airfare — as much as $7,000 for two people — especially since it sponsored the trips of American vets 10 years ago for the 60th anniversary.

Some people reading this might ask, “What difference at this point does it make?” It makes a huge difference to those of us who had a father or grandfather who served in World War II — especially if they exited an aircraft, scaled the cliffs, or landed on the beaches of Normandy.

One of those is Tarangelo’s father, now 90, who was only 18 when he landed at Omaha Beach with the 29th Army Infantry Division’s 116th Battalion.

“The 115th, they’re the ones who made the actual June 6th invasion. We got in there a day or two after that. They mopped up, but we saw a lot of action,” Tulli said.

From the beach, his battalion advanced southwest 26 miles through hedgerows and Panzer tank divisions. “When we were going to Saint-Lô, the Nazis had a sniper — one or two — terrorizing us the whole way,” he said. “Anybody that tells you they weren’t scared, they’re lying.”

“They told us he would receive the French Legion of Honor medal from President Obama and the French president, that he and a guest could go and that airfare, hotel and other travel would be included,” Tarangelo recalled. France will pay for lodging and travel within the country, the embassy confirmed. Tulli realizes this might be his last chance to honor his fallen brothers. So his daughter is organizing a Memorial Day baseball betting pool to help pay for it.

President Obama and President Hollande are both socialists who believe in “fair share” economics. Felice John Tulli represents a generation of men and women who gave more than their “fair share” for the liberty and freedom that Obama and Hollande enjoy. Not sure why the U.S. can’t step in and foot the bill.

Just add this to the ever-growing list of the despicable manner in which we are treating our veterans.

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