District of Columbia Air National Guardsman Lt. Col. Michael Odle will represent the United States during the 75th D-day commemoration ceremony in Portsmouth, United Kingdom (U.K.) June 5, as part of the Military Reserve Exchange Program (MREP) geared towards collaboration and enhancing relationships between the two allied countries.
Lt. Col. Odle will join over 4,000 U.K. Armed Forces in one of the largest mobilization of service personnel in recent years to support D-day commemoration efforts, to include the 75th D-Day commemoration ceremony, which will be attended by dignitaries, politicians, world leaders, members of the Royal family and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Lt. Col. Odle, as the Director of Strategic Communications for the D.C. National Guard and the Director of the Veterans Affairs Collaboration Office at the Pentagon, will serve as a public affairs officer supporting various Royal Air Force events, including the D-Day commemoration ceremony.
Portsmouth was one of the primary embarkation sites for the allied operation that led to the liberation of Europe during World War II. The Normandy Landings, also known as D-Day, began on June 6, 1944, when allied forces assaulted Nazi-occupied Europe by air, sea and land. It was a pivotal moment in World War II.
“It is absolutely an honor and privilege to participate in an event of this magnitude, recognizing the service and sacrifice of this great generation,” said Lt. Col. Odle. “Supporting veterans, supporting our U.K. partners and representing the United States and the U.S. Air Force as an integral member of the Royal Air Force media operations team is such an amazing opportunity.”
The commemorative event, organized by the U.K. Ministry of Defense, is focused on honoring the service and sacrifice of veterans, and will include a flyby of Royal Air Force aircraft. Later, attendees will wave off around 300 veterans and their guests, as they set sail for France to take in events along the Normandy beaches.
The MREP provides National Guard and Reserve participants training associated with mobilization duties, while enhancing their ability to work and communicate with military individuals of the host nation. As an opportunity for professional development, National Guard and Reserve officers and enlisted members complete their annual training serving in a duty assignment similar to their wartime assignment, while gaining the understanding of the training, doctrine, and operations of NATO alliance partner.
Since 1802 the District of Columbia National Guard has been protecting the capital and defending the nation. Today's Capital Guardians remains strong with more than 2,700 soldiers and airmen providing air sovereignty over the National Capital Region, transporting senior government leaders, supporting domestic operations and providing mission-ready soldiers and airmen for global engagement.
For more information about the D.C. National Guard visit https://dc.ng.mil.
Mr. Kevin Valentine
Public Affairs Specialist