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Released June 2, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- A World War II veteran and a University of Southern Mississippi history professor will discuss what was considered the key to victory for the Allies in Europe--the D-Day invasion at Normandy--during a presentation Saturday at the university. The program will mark the 60th anniversary of the invasion.

Gen. Elmo Bell, whose paratrooper unit landed ahead of the actual invasion to secure bridges and roadways necessary for the success of the D-Day operation, and Dr. Andrew Wiest, an expert on military history, will present during a lecture Saturday, June 5 in Room 101 of the Liberal Arts Building from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free.

"It (the presentation) will be the general story of the landings, from their inception to their planning, through their prosecution and through the Normandy campaign that ended with the closure of the Falaise Pocket -- achieving one of the greatest victories of the war," Wiest said. "Anyone who wants to come and hear the story of Normandy and of the exploits of the 'Greatest Generation' will be welcome."

Bell and Wiest will lead a group of students and area residents traveling to Normandy in July to see the actual site of the invasion, where they will hear a firsthand account from Bell of events surrounding D-Day.

The trip to Normandy is one of several offered through Southern Miss' popular British Studies Program, which gives students a chance to earn academic credit while enriching their studies through international travel. The Southern Miss Center for International and Continuing Education oversees the British Studies Program.

"The lecture will also help prepare those who will be joining us on the trip for their impending visit," Wiest said.

Bell, a Hattiesburg resident and a native of Wiggins, was a member of the 82nd Airborne. His unit was involved in some of the key Allied military operations in Europe during WWII, including the invasion of Sicily in 1943.

"Maybe if we can learn more about war, we can learn better how to avoid it," Bell said in an earlier interview.

For more information on this program, contact Wiest at (601) 266-5076.


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June 4, 2004 4:20 PM