GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — What does the “D” in D-Day stand for?

That and other questions about the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II were answered at last week’s meeting of the Grafenwöhr Military History Group.

The group, composed of a dozen soldiers and civilians, is coordinated by Jim DiCrocco, and has met once a month at the Grafenwöhr library since November 2005.

The group started after the library asked DiCrocco to give a Veterans Day presentation on Gen. George S. Patton in conjunction with the 2005 opening of the Patton Museum in nearby Plzen, Czech Republic.

“We’ve had presentations on Lewis and Clark, the (Korean War) battle of Chip Yong Ni and the occupation of Japan after World War II,” DiCrocco said at Wednesday’s meeting.

The fact that Grafenwöhr has so much military history of its own — the training area has been used by Americans and Germans for 100 years — makes studying military history here particularly intriguing, he said.

The seminar on D-Day, which occurred 62 years ago, started with a documentary film about the invasion. It included footage of troops landing on the beaches under fire and interviews with soldiers involved in the invasion reminiscing about throwing up in their helmets on the way across the English Channel.

“Most of you have probably seen ‘The Longest Day’ or ‘Saving Private Ryan,’ but I thought showing an older documentary might give you a different view of something we have all heard so much about over the years,” DiCrocco said.

The documentary also included information about the artificial harbors created to allow men and equipment to get ashore. On the first day, the Allies landed 130,000 troops. After that, 35,000 troops, 8,000 vehicles and 25,000 tons of supplies landed each day. DiCrocco said the remains of the Allies’ artificial harbors can still be seen in Normandy.

“What does the “D” in D-Day stand for?” asked one audience member. The answer was quickly retrieved from the National World War II Museum Web site: “D” simply stands for day. The phrase was first used in an order given by the 1st American Expeditionary Force on Sept. 20, 1918, according to the Web site.

Other audience members had their own tidbits of information to contribute, such as the fact that German tanks arrived late because Adolf Hitler was asleep and had ordered that he not be disturbed, or that Gen. Erwin Rommel was on leave attending his wife’s birthday on June 6.

The Allies suffered 9,000 casualties on D-Day, DiCrocco said.

Military History Group regular Sgt. Maj. Julio Hernandez of the Joint Multinational Training Command said he was a history major in college and is fascinated by European history. “Being here so close to where so much history has happened is great. The Franks, the Holy Roman Empire. The whole concept of kings and queens and guillotines is interesting,” said the 42-year-old Long Island, N.Y., native.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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