August 1, 2014

70th anniversary of D-Day

American assault troops in a landing craft approaching the Northern Coast of France on June 6, 1944 (Photo: US Army)

American assault troops in a landing craft approaching the Northern Coast of France on June 6, 1944 (Photo: US Army)

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy.

The day of the Normandy landings, D-Day, has been called “the day that saved the world.” University of Wisconsin-Madison Military History Professor John Hall says that’s an over-simplification.

“It is a critical event in the war; I think to say that it is the one event that wins the war for the allies is probably an exaggeration.” He stresses, “D-Day is hugely important in terms of speeding the destruction of the Third Reich.”

More than 160,000 allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France on this day 70 years ago, to fight Nazi Germany. More than 9,000 allied soldiers were killed or wounded.

AUDIOWisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos addresses the crowd at a Capitol ceremony Friday marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day. 1:03

D-Day is a common designation in military lingo; however, considering it is synonymous with June 6, 1944, some folks mistake it to mean “death” day or some other variation.

Hall explains it’s the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. “It makes it a fairly arbitrary point in time so that if they have to shift the operation due to weather or new intelligence or anything like that, all of the times in the plan remain exactly the same because they are defined by a variable rather than a fixed point in time.”

AUDIO: Hall explains what the “D” in D-Day means. :51

While the term is routinely used, Hall says the military attack 70 years ago to liberate western Europe from Nazi occupation during World War II is the only instance in which that designation has entered popular lexicon as a proper noun. That deadly invasion is precisely what Americans think of when hearing the term, even though many other operations — before and after that historic invasion — had a designated D-Day.

A ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of D-Day is scheduled for noon in the Capitol Rotunda.

Statement from the governor:

Governor Scott Walker issued a proclamation today commemorating the 70th anniversary of the World War II Normandy invasion, commonly referred to as “D-Day”, which marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.  Approximately 320,000 men and 9,000 women from Wisconsin served in the armed forces during World War II and 8,390 Wisconsinites gave the ultimate sacrifice.

“Today, we remember the monumental courage, devotion, and skill displayed by those who stormed the beaches of Normandy 70 years ago to fight for the end of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed people of Europe and guarantee our security and freedom,” Governor Walker said.  “D-Day significantly changed the course of the war, and we will never forget those who were lost on that historic day.  We remember those who died and honor all who served.”

Related: Remembering D-Day at the Capitol

Ribble proposes health care options for vets

Congressman Reid Ribble

Congressman Reid Ribble

Congressman Reid Ribble (R-Sherwood) stopped by the new VA clinic in Green Bay Wednesday afternoon to talk with officials about any problems or delays they may be having. The stop is in response to major delays at some VA clinics across the country that led to several deaths.

The congressman from northeast Wisconsin says the local VA clinic is doing all right. Ribble says depending on the specialty, there are some wait times as long as eight or nine months at the local clinic.

“Fortunately Wisconsin is not as bad as some other parts of the country — in both quality of care and wait times — but the wait times are still too long.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating more than 40 VA facilities across the nation for neglect. There hasn’t been evidence indicating any problems at hospitals in Wisconsin.

Ribble is proposing a bill that would allow military veterans to choose between going to the VA clinic or their own doctor to help reduce wait times.

Rick Schuh, WHBY

Remembering the war dead on Memorial Day

Memorial Day display in Madison near Olbrich Gardens. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Memorial Day display in Madison near Olbrich Gardens. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Enjoy your hot dog, but take a minute to remember those who paid the ultimate price defending our nation’s freedom and democracy.

The unofficial kick-off to summer is under way with a vacation from work, while we enjoy brats, beer, yard work, and fun outdoors; but Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos reminds us Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen.

“These brave men and women are family members, neighbors, co-workers, and many more who will not be forgotten.”

The federal holiday pays tribute to men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who lost their lives in service to this country. On what started as Decoration Day, volunteers put flowers on the graves of those lost in the Civil War.

Memorial Day should not be mistaken for Veterans Day. “On Memorial Day we honor those who gave their lives for our freedom,” Scocos explains, “On Veterans Day we honor those veterans that are still serving and those who served and are back in our communities … and remember them for their service to our country. Today our nation is really in solemn remembrance of those defenders of democracy.”

Scocos urges folks, if they haven’t already, to take a few minutes to attend a ceremony honoring the war dead or to visit the graves of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The National Moment of Remembrance is scheduled for 3 p.m. local time to, according to its founder, “help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

Scocos is participating in several events throughout the state, and plans to take his two sons to the grave site of his dad, who served in World War II.

Oshkosh Corporation developing driverless truck

PHOTO: Oshkosh Defense

(Photo: Oshkosh Defense)

Oshkosh Defense and the U.S. Navy are expanding a contract to develop unmanned military vehicles. John Beck, chief engineer for unmanned systems with Oshkosh Defense, said the firm has been working with the Marine Corps for several years to create technology that lets one person remotely operate several vehicles in a convoy. Beck he said the new contract would add mine-sweeping equipment and ground-penetrating radar to those vehicles.

Oshkosh Defense is working with the Office of Naval Research to produce an unmanned vehicle for use by Marines Corps supply-line convoys. Ground-penetrating radar and other mine detection systems are being incorporated to counter the threat of roadside bombs

That could lead to future orders for the company, if the military wants to produce them, in the future. Beck said he’s not sure how long it will take before the military decides whether to move the program to that stage.

Wisconsin soldier dies in Kosovo

Ruh PHOTO: FOX 11/YouTube

Ruh PHOTO: FOX 11/YouTube

The family of a Wisconsin soldier says their daughter has died while serving overseas. WLUK-TV in Green Bay reports that the father of U.S. Army Sergeant Heidi Ruh said the 33-year-old died Friday. Ruh was stationed on a base in Kosovo.

The military told the family she was fatally shot while on base. But that’s all the army will say. “It’s been very hard. The worst part is not knowing anything. All we knew was that she had been shot and killed,” Scott Ruh told WLUK.

Ruh said army officers came to his home in the town of Newton Friday afternoon with the news, which he said the family still doesn’t fully comprehend at this point. Ruh says his daughter had been in the Army for 11 years and worked in a medical unit, repairing surgical machines. The volunteered for the Kosovo assignment and had been there since February.

He says the Army won’t tell him anything else about her death; only that it’s under investigation. Besides her parents, Scott and Catherine, Ruh is also survived by two sons, ages eight and eleven. Her family says the boys live with Ruh’s ex-husband and his family in Arkansas.