By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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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.
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.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.