D-Day Veterans Gather at Pointe du Hoc

Jun 05, 2011, 09:32 ET from American Battle Monuments Commission

CRICQUEVILLE-EN-BESSIN, France, June 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 40 World War II veterans are expected to gather here tomorrow with American and French officials to rededicate the Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument, which reopened to the public in March.

Sixty-seven years ago – on June 6, 1944 – U.S. Army Rangers climbed the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc on a mission General Omar Bradley called the most dangerous assignment of the D-Day invasion.  The Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument and German observation bunker it sits upon had been closed to the public for 10 years because of safety concerns resulting from decades of cliff erosion.  A $4.8 million project of the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) stabilized the cliff and bunker.

"The 155mm guns at Pointe du Hoc could have devastated the American landing beaches on D-Day had the Rangers not been successful," said ABMC Secretary Max Cleland.  "We couldn't allow this historic site and the courage and sacrifice it represents to be lost to future generations."

Veterans are expected to be joined at the ceremony by U.S. Senator John Kerry; U.S. Representative Bill Young and 11 other members of Congress; U.S. Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin; the ABMC Board of Commissioners; French Undersecretary to the Minister of National Education, Youth and Associative Life Jeannette Bougrab; and family members of the late James Earl Rudder, D-Day commander of the 2nd Ranger Battalion.

The site was closed to the public in March 2001.  A feasibility study conducted in 2008 by Texas A&M University confirmed that the monument and bunker could be saved.  Led by former Congressman Chet Edwards, the U.S. Congress appropriated funds in Fiscal Year 2009 to stabilize the cliffs and bunker.

A contract for the stabilization work was awarded to G.T.S., a French geotechnical firm, which began work at the site in February 2010.

SOURCE American Battle Monuments Commission