VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The Navy commemorated the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion Friday with an amphibious assault demonstration at one of the bases that was used to help train forces during World War II.
Hundreds of sailors and Marines attended the beachside ceremony at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, which was created out of farm and swampland in 1942. Several World War II veterans were honored at the ceremony, which was held on a sunny day at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
"As the former Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, we can trace our roots to D-Day. It was apparent in the dark days of World War II in early 1942 that we're going to have to take some ground back," said Capt. Frank Hughlett, the base's commanding officer.
"The assault boat coxswains that went ashore at Omaha and Utah beaches were trained right here, so the significance of this beach where we hold the ceremony today cannot be understated."
About a dozen military craft — including landing craft air cushion vehicles that transported Army soldiers — participated in a demonstration of what it looks like for the military to storm a beach in the modern era.
Today, the base is home to ships and watercraft that transport Marines and their equipment, as well as Naval special warfare forces.
Several speakers at the ceremony noted common ground among the young men and women who serve today and those who fought in World War II.
"In keeping alive our memories of D-Day, none of us here are truly more than one or two degrees of separation removed," said Canadian Royal Air Force Lt. Col. Theo Heuthorst.