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GOVERNOR PAYS TRIBUTE TO UTAH’S WWII VETERANS

SHARE GOVERNOR PAYS TRIBUTE TO UTAH’S WWII VETERANS

On the 50th anniversary of D-Day, Gov. Mike Leavitt honored Utah's World War II servicemen and women Monday at the Fort Douglas Memorial Cemetery.

Assembled in front of the original cemetery gate were Leavitt and about 50 representatives of the armed services, the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.Those who guaranteed the freedom of thousands were honored, including the women who "have not been forgotten" said Lavonne Willis, director of the Utah Office of Veterans Affairs.

Five Utah men who participated in the invasion of Normandy joined the governor. Lt. William Rice was on one of the first Allied ships to reach the French coast. Sgt. George Papadakis was crew chief on a C-47 transport plane. Sgt. Glen Lapine, now a lieutenant colonel, was part of the 82nd airborne division. Pvt. Lewis DaRonche made a safe parachute landing. Pvt. Nathan Warwood was on an amphibious truck that was supposed to land on Utah Beach but got stranded off the coast.

"These are five examples among literally thousands," Leavitt said.

He concluded his oration by saying, "Let us never forget, let us never lack their courage, let us never lack their resolve, let us always appreciate their sacrifice."

After his remarks, Leavitt placed a wreath over the grave of fallen soldier William Doyle and saluted while a trumpeter performed "Taps." A joint services color guard gave a rifle salute.

Lapine said the celebration of D-Day should get younger people interested in the military. He said the younger generation needs to have more respect for what happened at Normandy and those who sacrificed in the name of freedom.

Warwood said that people should know what the conditions were at the time and the real reason the United States was there.

"I saw kids starving and barefoot all over because Hitler was putting everything into the military," he said. "We had to do it because he was taking over. I don't feel I sacrificed because it had to be done."