Vintage warplanes soar over Peninsula to mark D-Day anniversary [**Gallery**]
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
A trio of vintage P-51 Mustangs flies in a “V” formation during a flyover of Port Angeles on Friday morning. The flight, commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day, passed over Sequim and Port Townsend as well. The planes were sponsored by the Mukilteo-based Historic Flight Foundation.
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Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News
With the Olympic Mountains for a backdrop, “The Impatient Virgin,” middle, heads a flight of historic P-51 Mustangs over the City Dock in Port Townsend on Friday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on Normandy, France, in 1944. “The Impatient Virgin” flew four sorties over the Normandy beaches that day in support of the Allied landing to wrest France and Europe from Nazi Germany.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
The flight of P-51 Mustangs draws the eyes of those gathered for a D-Day commemoration ceremony at the James Center for the Performing Arts.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
World War II veteran Don Alward plays taps at Sequim’s ceremony to mark the Mustangs’ flyover at the James Center for the Performing Arts.
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Sid Gerling, Bob Mingram, Frank Donnelly, Eric Miner and Guy Iredale, from left, of the Mount Olympus Marine Corps League Detachment 897 fire off a 15-gun salute at Sequim’s D-Day commemoration ceremony at the James Center for the Performing Arts.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

People gathered across the North Olympic Peninsula to watch a trio of vintage World War II fighter planes fly over in recognition of the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

At a ceremony in Sequim timed with Friday morning's flight, Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire, R-Sequim, hailed the troops who carried out the Allied Forces' invasion that day for showing “unadulterated courage.”

“Who knows what might have happened had they not been successful that day?” Sequim City Councilman Dennis Smith asked at the Sequim ceremony, which drew about 70 people.

People also gathered at City Pier in Port Angeles and in Pope Marine Park in Port Townsend to watch the planes fly over. No ceremonies were planned in those cities.

Trio of planes

A trio of P-51 Mustangs from the Historic Flight Foundation of Mukilteo flew over the Peninsula on the way back from Bellingham during the daylong recognition of the Allied Forces' invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

The flights were part of a celebration marking the anniversary at the Historic Flight Foundation at Paine Field, which straddles Mukilteo and Everett.

The P-51 Mustangs were fast, high-altitude fighters that protected bombers as they flew into enemy territory.

The number of Allied combat casualties on D-Day was more than 10,000, of whom 2,500 Americans died.

The P-51 Mustangs' Peninsula flight lasted 11 minutes as the pilots roared over Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend.

Taps played

Shortly before the planes flew over the ceremony at the James Center for the Performing Arts in Sequim, WWII veteran and Port Angeles native Don Alward, 86, played taps on a Mount Olympus Marine Corps League Detachment 897 bugle.

While the Allies carried out the D-Day invasion, a 16-year-old Alward, who had enlisted the previous fall, was one of 8,000 Marines headed for an invasion of Saipan aboard the USS Bradford.

“When it happened, we didn't really do too much about it,” he remembered. “We had our own problems ahead of us.”

Other speakers at the Sequim ceremony were Mayor Candace Pratt and Carl Bradshaw, commander of the Jack Grennan American Legion Post 62 in Sequim.

The Marine Corps League fired a 15-gun salute to the D-Day dead.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 07. 2014 6:35PM
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