The U.S.S. Herndon took part in World War II’s Normandy invasion 75 years ago. Next year, Herndon High School’s marching band will return to the shores of Normandy to participate in a D-Day anniversary celebration.
The band is preparing to perform in the 75th D-Day Memorial Parade and Musical Salute in June 2019. Roughly 200 students and chaperones plan to attend the event, which offers a salute to veterans.
The U.S.S. Herndon and the Town of Herndon were named after Commander William Lewis Herndon, a Navy officer who served in the Mexican-American War.
The U.S. Navy ship helped escort ships ahead of the invasion in France, took part in anti-submarine duty and screened landings, submarines and aircraft carriers. The ship also provided some fire support.
Fundraising is underway to make the trip possible. A kick-off celebration and benefit concern will be held on May 5 on the Herndon Town Green. The event will feature live performances by The 5:55, guest speakers, food and beer.
The band was recommended by the government and military organizers of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade in Hawaii based on their performance in 2013.
“Getting to represent not just Herndon, not just Virginia, but the entirety of the United States will be a life shaping experience for our students,” said Kathleen Jacoby, the band director at Herndon High School. “Not only are they connecting with current day Americans, but we’re asking them to time travel back to 1945 and put themselves in the shoes of the brave men who were on the beaches of Normandy.”
Here’s more from the band about the tribute:
As they march, the Pride will also be paying a special tribute to the brave men of the USS Herndon, the destroyer that led the Allied naval armada in the assault on France and named for CommanderWilliam Lewis Herndon, after whom the Town of Herndon, VA is also named. The USS Herndon was launched on 2nd February 1942 by the Norfolk Navy Yard, sponsored by Lucy Herndon Crockett, great-grandniece of Comdr. Herndon. The ship was nicknamed the “Lucky Herndon,” because it was never hit by enemy gunfire, despite being targeted by torpedoes, aerial bombardments, and well-fortified German shore batteries. The men of the “Lucky Herndon” were given 10 to 1 odds that they wouldn’t come out of D-Day alive. By contrast, Herndon effectively pounded enemy gun emplacements on Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, ahead of our first troop landings there, and was credited with firing the first naval shots of this campaign. Each member of the Pride will carry a photograph of a Herndon crew member who served during WWII, as they march in Normandy. The marching banner will have a photograph of the ship, and the band will wear baseball caps that say ‘USS Herndon’.
For more information and to donate, visit the band’s website.
Photos via Rini Dutta and William Craig Dubishar