|320th Barrage Balloon Battalion|
For the past few winters, the National D-Day Memorial hosts a Lunchbox Lecture series by staff and guest speakers that cover a range of topics on World War II. It is one of the highlights of our slow winter season. While I have enjoyed each of the lectures I’ve attended while at the Memorial, I think that this February’s lecture is going to be one of the best we’ve had. I’ve loved learning about the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion and sharing their story with school groups while giving tours of the Memorial.
As a special evening lunchbox lecture and in commemoration of Black History Month, the National D-Day Memorial will host a special “Meet the Author” event with Linda Hervieux. Hervieux is the author of the recently released book Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes (Harper Collins). It tells the compelling story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, an intriguing unit of African-American soldiers sent in among the first wave of invaders on June 6, 1944. They were tasked with sending up a curtain of small blimps on cables, used to deter enemy aircraft and protect the historic landings on the Normandy coast. Heroically doing their job in the chaos of battle, they played a role that few have ever realized—until now.
While Forgotten is her debut book, Linda Hervieux is hardly a novice writer. She’s a respected journalist and photographer whose work has appeared in such publications as The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the New York Daily News, and Fodor's Paris. A native of Lowell, Massachusetts, she lived for many years in Brooklyn before moving with her husband to Paris, where they now reside.
|Corporal William Dabney, |
320th Barrage Balloon Battalion
We are also honored to be able to host D-Day veteran William Dabney of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion at the lecture. On June 6, 1944, he was assigned to Omaha Beach as a Balloon Crew Chief. As he approached the beach, his leg was hit by shrapnel, but he taped it up and kept going. Once he realized that the barrage balloon was no longer attached, he was placed in a position where he needed to defend himself on the beaches of Normandy. In 2009, Dabney was awarded the Legion of Honor medal by the French government for his service on D-Day.
This lecture will take place Monday, February 22nd, 2016 at the Bedford Welcome Center and begin at 6:30PM. Copies of Forgotten will be available to for purchase, and Hervieux will sign books after her presentation. The event is free and open to the public, but due to the anticipated response we ask that attendees RSVP by calling 540-586-DDAY. Light refreshments will be served.
Special thanks to AREVA and Virginia Foundation of the Humanities, and Roanoke Valley Sister Cities for their support of this event.
Hope to see you there!