History of Normandy Allies
Normandy Allies was founded in 1997 by Marsha Smith and Mary M. Stubler, nieces of S/Sgt. Benedict A. Smith, killed in action in Normandy on July 30, 1944. Marsha and their parents had visited S/Sgt Smith’s grave in the Brittany American Military Cemetery at St. James, France, in 1996. That visit was the genesis of the Normandy Allies travel programs, designed to promote greater historical understanding of the 1944 liberation of Normandy by working collegially with the people of Normandy.
Over the next two years, Marsha and LTC(ret) Gene Johnston met with leaders and townspeople of Grandcamp-Maisy, Sainte-Mère-Eglise, Saint-Lô, Trévières, Colombières, the Wall of Remembrance Society, the Omaha Beach/Bedford VA Association and many other dedicated people throughout Normandy. Together they developed a network of friends and colleagues to welcome students, teachers, veterans, and life-long learners to the historic beaches and bocage of Normandy.
The initial travel program was in 1999 and continues to the present. The network of friendship remains the bedrock of the Normandy Allies experience.