Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 D-Day Invasion by Allied Troops in Normandy, France.
American Legion Auxiliary Past State President Marty Peters and others referenced the event on Monday during Cleburne American Legion Post 50’s annual Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony at Cleburne Memorial Park Cemetery.
“On June 6, 1944, 154,000 Allied Troops landed on the 50-mile stretch of Nazi-held beaches of Normandy,” Peters said. “It included 5,000 ships and 11,000 airplanes. Weather combined with strong Nazi resistance to make the invasion’s outcome anything but certain.”
Although the anniversary of D-Day certainly warranted mention on Memorial Day it was only appropriate to also do something on the actual anniversary date, Peters said.
State Rep. Dewayne Burns, R-Cleburne, members of Cleburne’s American Legion, Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion will be on hand 10 a.m. Thursday at Cleburne’s Rosehill Cemetery to do just that. Members of the public are invited and encouraged to attend.
Of the 154,000 Allied Troops participating in the invasion that day 803 were Texans and three were from Johnson County.
Of those three, U.S. Army Cpl. Lem Alban Morgan is the only one buried in Johnson County.
Born in Weatherford, Morgan lived in Godley before enlisting on Oct. 9, 1942 in Dallas. Morgan served as a medic and as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and jumped on Utah Beach on D-Day.
Morgan passed away May 26, 1971 and is buried in Block 55, Lot 53 of Rosehill Cemetery. Burns will be on hand to place a wreath on Morgan’s grave followed by remarks from himself and others.
Also honored on Thursday will be U.S. Marine Sgt. Woodrow W. Cowart who enlisted through the Johnson County Selective Service Board #2 in Alvarado and also served with the 82nd Airborne Division and jumped on Utah Beach. Cowart, who died April 9, 1999, is buried in Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.
Roland Martin Hibbitt attended school at Grandview and Lone Willow, which was near the current location of the Cleburne Elk’s Lodge. His parents resided in Burleson in 1942 when Hibbitt enlisted in the U.S. Army Paratroops. Hibbitt jumped on Utah Beach June 6, 1944, and was killed in action two days later. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery.
Peters encouraged residents to attend the ceremony and to bring their family members along.
“Some of you may have watched the D-Day specials that have been on TV this week and last,” Peters said. “Thursday is an opportunity to pay tribute to one of our own who was actually there and part of history as well as our other two Johnson County residents who are buried elsewhere. We were unable to locate any relatives of Cpl. Lem Morgan to invite them to join us, which is why it’s so important to have members of the community show up to remember and honor him and Cowart and Hibbitt on this very important anniversary in our country’s history.”
“We know the significance of D-Day, that is was a turning point in World War II and a significant day in the history of our nation’s military,” Burns said. “More importantly, I can’t think of a greater picture of bravery, sacrifice and service than those men storming the beach that day displayed in service to their brothers and their country. I think it’s our honor to have the opportunity to honor all those men but especially our local servicemen 75 years after the invasion occurred.”