June 21, 2024

Handful of D-Day Vets Attend 80-Year Anniversary

Some captured German soldiers can be seen in a historic photo of Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (US Army photo)

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The June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France was unprecedented in scale and audacity, using the largest-ever armada of ships, troops, planes, and vehicles to punch a hole in Adolf Hitler’s defenses in western Europe and change the course of World War II. Military.com reports some key facts: Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed at Normandy, 73,000 from the US and 83,000 from Britain and Canada. The Allies faced around 50,000 German forces. More than 2 million from a dozen Allied countries were involved in the overall operation.

The returning veterans bore a message for generations behind them: Don’t forget what we did. More than 4,400 Allied troops were killed on D-Day, including more than 2,500 Americans. The Allies’ toll grew to 73,000 killed and 153,000 wounded in the Battle of Normandy that ensued, reports Military Times. “They probably wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t been successful,” said Llilburn “Bill” Wall, a bomber in WWII, who celebrates his 101st birthday this week as world leaders gather in France to pay homage to the D-Day generation.

Nearly 70 US World War II veterans flew Saturday to Paris to pay homage to the thousands of fellow Americans who perished in the fight, reports Stars and Stripes. Their ages averaged slightly over 100.  “By serving your country you have liberated ours,” France’s former ambassador to the US, Philippe Etienne, told the veterans. The flame of remembrance must never be extinguished.”

A statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower was unveiled Monday in Sainte-Mère-Église, a small village near Utah Beach, reports Stars and Stripes. Eisenhower “built trust across nations and truly forged an alliance,” said GEN Christopher Cavoli, NATO supreme allied commander in Europe.

NATO plans to offer Ukraine a security package at its annual summit in July in Washington but expected to stop short of accepting the nation’s long-standing request for membership, reports Defense News. An estimated 32 countries are finalizing agreements to support Ukraine ahead of the summit, with 13 finalized so far, according to Julianne Smith, the US ambassador to NATO.

The USS Dwight D Eisenhower and its three warships will remain in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden for at least another month, says Military.com, protecting military and commercial ships from strikes by Houthi rebels in Yemen. This is the second deployment for the four ships which include the USS Philippine Sea, a cruiser, and two destroyers, the USS Gravely and the USS Mason. All together they include about 6,000 sailors

The US and Singapore have agreed to collaborate more closely on defense innovation as part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to pair the American defense industry with countries in the Indo-Pacific region, reports Defense News.

South Korea plans to suspend a 2018 military agreement with North Korea aimed at easing tensions, after warning of a strong response to balloons launched by the North carrying trash to the South. Defense News reports Pyongyang says it launched hundreds of balloons carried by wind across the border to inconvenience its neighbor, rejecting South Korea calling the action a provocation

Nearly 250 Coast Guard members unlawfully forced into retirement under the guise of a force reduction could be entitled to millions of dollars in back pay and benefits, reports Stars and Stripes. A federal court in March upheld a lower court’s 2021 decision that the Coast Guard’s performance-based panels to thin the upper enlisted ranks violated federal law and due-process. The Coast Guard did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Federal health advisers voted 10-1 Tuesday against using the mind-altering drug MDMA as a treatment for PTSD,  a setback to psychedelic advocates who hoped to win a landmark federal approval and bring the banned drugs into the medical mainstream, reports Military.com. The FDA panel cited flawed study data, questionable research conduct, and significant drug risks, including the potential for heart problems, injury, and abuse.

President Joe Biden’s move last month to reclassify marijuana as a less risky and dangerous drug on the federal list of controlled substances won’t change anything for service members and veterans, Military.com reports. Marijuana use remains subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and veterans are not able to obtain the drug from VA doctors.

A new rapid test that checks for traumatic brain injuries using a single drop of blood is expected to make its debut in the military in the coming months. The test can ascertain whether a person’s blood contains the chemical markers associated with a mild TBI, or concussion, after 15 minutes, improving treatment in the field. Earlier diagnostic tests need to be processed in a laboratory that can take hours or days to issue results.

NASA and Boeing were forced once again to call off the first crewed launch of the company’s Starliner spacecraft. NBC News reports Saturday’s launch had been scheduled for 12:25pm to the International Space Station and would have been the vehicle’s first with a crew. The launch attempt was scrubbed with only 3 minutes and 50 seconds to go in the countdown.

A Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon Sunday to collect soil and rock samples that could provide insights into differences between the less-explored region and the better-known near side, reports Military.com.

France has banned Israeli firms from participating in Eurosatory, Europe’s largest defense show, a little over two weeks before the event kicks off in Paris, with the government citing Israel’s military actions in Gaza, reports Defense News.

The Navy will now allow commanding officers to automatically advance sailors to the ranks of E-5 and E-6 to fill empty billets at those ranks and if the sailors agree to extend their service, reports Military.com. The Navy will phase out the old system that didn’t come with extra service obligations for sailors or require open billets for a commander to promote.

The White House is threatening to veto the annual Department of Veterans Affairs and military construction funding bill over GOP-backed riders that would undo VA policies on LGBTQ+ veterans, and abortion, reports Military.com.

A House-proposed defense spending bill released Tuesday adds eight more F-35s than the Pentagon request for 68 F-35s — 42 F-35As for the Air Force, and 13 F-35Bs and 13 F-35Cs for the Navy and Marine Corps, reports Defense News.

Europe’s aviation regulator propose its US counterpart, the Federal Aviation Administration, acts as an observer on safety audits including those of Airbus planes, reports Reuters. The proposal seeks reciprocal arrangements with FAA audits of Boeing planes and to increase information sharing more broadly. The two regulators will not go as far as performing joint audits of aircraft.

The Kenya-led Multinational Security Support mission to bolster local police in combating gangs in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is expected to arrive in the Caribbean nation in the coming weeks, reports CNN.. The US has championed the mission in Haiti, offering hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and resources — from security for their still-under-construction base to toothbrushes and internet, though drawing a line at boots on the ground.

A new government tool aims to clarify the benefits troops and their families can receive from America’s 10 largest airlines to make their air travel easier. Military Times reports the US Department of Transportation’s “Support Our Troops” dashboard offers a chart comparing each airline’s policies on fee waivers, free luggage, and refunds for military families during personal travel, or when travel plans change because of a military order.

Contracts:

VetTech LLC, a JV, Huntsville, Alabama, is being awarded a competitive cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The total value of this contract is $347,709,008. Under this new contract, the contractor is required to provide support in the following areas: strategic planning and financial management, cost estimating and analysis, accounting and financial improvement, financial systems support and integration, foreign military sales, human resources, equal employment opportunity, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The work will be performed in Missile Defense Agency (MDA) headquarters, Fort Belvoir, Virginia; Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama; Dahlgren, Virginia; Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Columbus, Ohio. The performance period is from June 2024 to December 2029. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the SAM.gov website with two proposals received. Fiscal 2024 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $2,606,993 are being obligated on this award. MDA, Huntsville, Alabama, is the contracting activity (HQ0858-24-C-0001).

SecuriGence LLC, Leesburg, Virginia, has been awarded a $190,901,337 modification (P00035) to previously awarded task order HR001121F0006 for information technology multi-network support services. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the task order to $525,009,025 from $334,107,688. Work will be performed in Arlington, Virginia, with an expected completion date of June 2025. Fiscal 2023 and 2024 research and development funds in the amounts of $216,040 and $11,189,454 are being obligated at time of award. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

Command Management Services Inc., Portland, Oregon (W9124D-24-D-0003); Amentum Services Inc., Chantilly, Virginia (W9124D-24-D-0004); Empire Hospitality LLC, Vancouver, Washington (W9124D-24-D-0005); TechTrans International, Houston, Texas (W9124D-24-D-0006); Liberty Lodging Co. LLC, Rocklin, California (W9124D-24-D-0007); and Bellator Group Inc., Leesburg, Virginia (W9124D-24-D-0008), will compete for each order of the $82,008,668 firm-fixed-price contract for meals, lodging and transportation services. Bids were solicited via the internet with 14 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 2, 2029. Army Field Directorate Office, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is the contracting activity.

8-Koi, Melbourne, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0001); Abba Construction, Jacksonville, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0002); Barber Klein Contractors, Jacksonville, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0003); Comp Environmental, Winter Haven, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0004); Copper River Infrastructure Services, Chantilly, Virginia (W911YN-24-D-0005); ERS Corp., Jacksonville, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0006); Foresight Construction, Gainesville, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0007); Frazier Engineering, Melbourne, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0008); Lego Construction, Miami, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0009); Martinez Services, Merritt Island, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0010); Maverick Constructors, Lutz, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0011); Peachtree Mechanical, Fayetteville, Georgia (W911YN-24-D-0012); Southeastern Industrial Construction, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0013); Vanguard Pacific, Foley, Alabama (W911YN-24-D-0014); and Warden Construction, Jacksonville, Florida (W911YN-24-D-0015), will compete for each order of the $45,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for maintenance, repair, construction and design-build services. Bids were solicited via the internet with 40 received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of June 2, 2029. US Property and Fiscal Office, Florida, is the contracting activity.

UPDATE: Meso Scale Diagnostics LLC, Rockville, Maryland (SPE2DE-24-D-0018, $25,000,000), has been added as an awardee to the multiple award contract for laboratory equipment, accessories, and consumables for the Defense Logistics Agency Electronic Catalog, issued against solicitation SPE2DE-22-R-0006 and awarded Feb. 24, 2023.

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