Graduate Students in Normandy 2012

Posted by on Nov 22, 2012 in Featured, Trip Photos and Stories

Graduate Students in Normandy 2012

SDSU Graduate Students in Normandy

Thank you to Normandy Allies for a great and memorable trip!
—Aaron Sultan, SDSU student, Normandy Allies Facebook page, June 12, 2012

SDSU Graduate Students in Normandy

Charles de Maupeou (center) introduces the group to the marshlands and Chateau de Colombières.

As part of their studies, fourteen San Diego State University graduate students traveled to Normandy, May 23-June 7, 2012 visiting sites significant to the history of the 1944 landings and liberation.

Professor Jeffrey McIllwain, head of the SDSU Graduate Program in Homeland Security described the focus of the course as the history of D-Day (June 6, 1944) and the lessons that can be learned from it that are relevant to the provision of homeland security.  The topics include means of cooperation among allies, strategies to protect or destroy infrastructure, the importance of intelligence for both the Germans and for the Allies, the impact of the war on civilians, Allied efforts to provide medical care and other assistance to civilians, the role of the French Resistance, and many other issues.

The group began with several days in Paris, and then were joined by Normandy Allies team member, LTC Peter Combee, who escorted them to Normandy. Professor McIllwain and LTC Combee lead the trip and provided commentary about the history of the Battle of Normandy and its relation to the provision of homeland security.

The students enjoyed the opportunity to lodge in Grandcamp-Maisy, Bayeux, Caen, and Saint-Lô as they met historians and French residents who could enlighten their studies.  Their explorations included the five landing beaches—Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword—Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Arromanches Mulberry Museum and boat trip, Pegasus Bridge, Graignes, and the Abbaye d’Ardenne. The group is pictured (above) with Charles de Maupeou who introduced them to the marshlands and Chateau de Colombières.

They explored French culture and heritage, spending a day at Mont St.Michel, lunching in Villedieu-des-Poelles, viewing the Bayeux Tapestry, and visiting the chateau of William the Conquerer on the outskirts of Caen.

Three very meaningful ceremonies marked their progress through Normandy.  They began with the Memorial Day commemorations at the Normandy American Military cemetery where VR MAJOR Shawn Pecinovsky had the honor of laying a wreath on behalf of SDSU.  A few days later, the group braved inclement weather to observe the parachute drop at La Fiere, the annual event honoring the airborne at Sainte-Mère-Eglise.

Then, on June 6th, they began their day at the Bayeux  Cathedral as guests at the Anglo-French Ecumenical Service with the Royal British Legion Normandy-Calvados Branch.  In the afternoon, the group went to Ranville for the major National Commemorative Ceremonies, this year chaired by Francois Hollande, recently elected President of France.

At the close of the trip, Professor McIllwain commented on Facebook: “Thank you, Pete and Marsha, for all of your support for me and my students!”  The Normandy Allies team appreciated this opportunity to facilitate the students’ goal of learning on-site, and having the opportunity to visit contemporary Normandy, a truly wonderful part of the world.

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