SIGONELLA, Sicily — Anniversary ceremonies this week will remember troops who died during the Allied invasion of Sicily 60 years ago.

Among those honored will be 39 U.S. servicemen killed while forcing a tank division to withdraw using only rifles and bazookas.

The events Thursday through Saturday pay tribute to those killed in Operation Husky, during which more than 160,000 U.S. and Commonwealth troops invaded the island in a prelude to the assault on mainland Italy. The operation began the night of July 9, 1943.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, the Royal British Legion will hold a memorial service at the Catania Commonwealth War Cemetery. Attendees traveling from the United Kingdom include veterans and relatives of those killed during the invasion.

U.S. officials are organizing a ceremony Friday at the Ponte Dirillo bridge, near Niscemi, where 39 U.S. servicemen died in fierce fighting with the Livorno Tank Division.

The paratroops, 38 of them attached to the 82nd Airborne Division and one Navy ensign, were dropped by glider near Gela to knock out guns ashore as part of the pre-invasion strike. The troops were scattered for miles because of bad weather and faulty navigation.

After they regrouped, the troops forced the tank division’s withdrawal, destroying 16 tanks with rifles and bazookas.

The Sigonella Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station is organizing a wreath-laying ceremony for 10 a.m. Friday at the bridge. Participants are gathering at the Naval Air Station Sigonella II COMSTA parking lot at 7:45 a.m.

“It’s important to remember the Americans who gave their lives on foreign soil, not only for Sicily but for all of Europe,” said Navy Lt. Patrick Sutton, event organizer and officer in charge of Naval Radio Transmitter Facility Niscemi.

Italian officials also are organizing events, including a wreath-laying at 10 a.m. Thursday at Ponte Dirillo. At noon in Gela, the Italian coast guard will toss flowers into the sea. The Italians also will hold a military parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Gela seafront. A U.S. delegation will be present.

The Oasis Club in Gela will have a free photo exhibition at 6 p.m. on Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 to 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

The next memorial event, at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 5 in Cassibile marks the signing of the armistice between the Allied forces and Italy. “It’s interesting because people still have vivid memories about the liberation,” Alberto Lunetta, Sigonella community relations officer, said.

“At the parade, everybody’s waving, people are moved, especially when they see the American military uniforms.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now