“Europe was more than D-Day and ‘Saving Private Ryan’” — Army Lt. Col. Timothy Stoy

Not far from the Pentagon, sandwiched between the Navy Annex and Henderson Hall, a former Army paratrooper and I found ourselves in an outdated meeting room filled past capacity. We strained to see and hear the purveyors of history and their elegant but aging subjects.

The event was a panel discussion on Operation Dragoon and focused on the U.S. Army paratrooper jump behind German lines.

Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France. It kicked off Aug. 15, 1944, just more than two months after the Allied landings at Normandy. But unlike Normandy, Dragoon was relatively unopposed. There were U.S. divisions supported by French and British units. (Yes, French forces. Armed Frenchmen. Fighting Frenchmen. Who knew?) The U.S. and Gen. George S. Patton in particular felt this assault was crucial to the move into Germany. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill strongly disagreed. He saw that pulling assets from the Mediterranean would pave the way for Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s post-war domination of Eastern Europe — seems he was correct.

They say 134,000 made the assault; only a small fraction remain.

Army Lt. Col. Timothy Stoy and his wife, retired Army Capt. Monika Stoy, are on a mission. Monika is the brains and muscle behind getting recognition for these soldiers, sailors and airmen, putting together events like this recent two-day gathering in Washington, D.C. (Tim asked us not to mention the Marines who went ashore at Marseilles Aug. 29 to accept the surrender of 700 German prisoners. Sorry,Tim.) The Stoys and other members of the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division Association aren’t looking for medals for these guys, but rather some respect.

E-mailing Tom “Greatest Generation” Brokaw is one approach.

Tim told us he and Monika wrote to Brokaw. The newsman and author regretted that he could not make the event, but Tim soon was contacted by the Washington NBC affiliate at Brokaw’s request.
But the Stoys have had some setbacks. Tim admits they started late working to obtain letters and other written recognition for the veterans, but he still seemed surprised at his results: Nothing from the White House, secretary of Defense, or secretary of Veterans Affairs. At least Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry put something together for them in 2008, according to Tim Stoy.

Granted, Operation Dragoon might pale somewhat when compared to the drama and carnage that marked big brother Overlord. Regardless, I am unsure how one determines which guys 65 years past their glory days of youthful splendor are worthy of recognition and which are not.

We hope the president, Defense Secretary (and occasional super hero) Robert M. Gates, and The Silent Secretary, a.k.a Veterans Affairs chief Eric Shinseki will send a letter, a proclamation, something to the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division Association for the men of Operation Dragoon. They’d love to hear from lawmakers, MOAA-ites, and “Inside the Headquarters” readers, as well.

(Maybe mention the Marines, too. Do it for Lt. Col. Tim Stoy.)

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