U.S. Merchant Marine Monument Unveiled at Utah Beach

A video of the ceremony is available on YouTube.

On June 5, the American Merchant Marine Veterans unveiled a monument to the U.S. Merchant Marine on Utah Beach. The new monument, near the Lone Sailor Monument and the Higgins Boat Monument, honors the valor and sacrifice of U.S. merchant mariners, whose actions supported military operations on D-Day that took place 80 years ago on June 6, 1944. American Maritime Officers and other U.S. maritime unions contributed financially to the creation of the new monument.

U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II participating in the unveiling of the monument in this image included Bill Balabanow, Dave Yoho and Michael Robbins.

On D-Day, the Allies’ armada and invasion forces landing in Normandy created the largest amphibious assault operation in the history of the world.

The Allies’ D-Day armada numbered about 7,000 ships, including 200 U.S. merchant ships that were operated by U.S. merchant mariners and U.S. Naval Armed Guard crews. The monument, enshrined on Utah Beach where U.S. troops landed, displays a quote from General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

On May 8, 1945, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the European Theater, General Eisenhower, said:

“Every man in this Allied command is quick to express his admiration for the loyalty, courage, and fortitude of the officers and men of the merchant marine. We count upon their efficiency and their utter devotion to duty as we do our own; they have never failed us yet and in all the struggles yet to come we know that they will never be deterred by any danger, hardship, or privation. When final victory is ours there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the merchant marine.”

Participants at the unveiling ceremony included U.S. Merchant Marine World War II Veteran Dave Yoho; Mayor Charles de Vallavieille of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Normandy, France; President of American Merchant Marine Veterans Capt. Dru DiMattia; and Rita Cosby, award-winning journalist, news anchor, and author. The small town of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont and the French people in Normandy extended wonderful hospitality for the event.

“It was something I never ever expected to get in on, but I’m so thankful I was here. It is the highlight in my life and it’s something I can’t explain to anyone,” said World War II U.S. Merchant Marine Veteran Reynolds Tomter, age 107.

“It’s important because we were almost forgotten about, and now we’re remembered,” said World War II U.S. Merchant Marine Veteran Joachim Kallist.

U.S. Merchant Marine World War II Veteran Dave Yoho greets U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Midshipmen at the ceremony on June 5 at Utah Beach.