Sgt. Joshua Dodds, 116th Public Affairs Detachment American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill talks with Command Sgt. Maj. Ja

Germany, Kosovo, Italy and Normandy

American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill will pay homage to the heroes of the World War II D-Day invasion over the weekend, rounding out a European tour that has included visits to Landstuhl Army Medical Center in Germany and Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.During Memorial Day weekend, Commander Hill and American Legion Auxiliary National President Rita Navarreté spent time learning about U.S. operations in the Balkans. They toured the base, received a command briefing by the Multinational Battle Group (MNBG) East staff, and had an office call with Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann, commander of the battle group. They also met and ate with the soldiers, and visited the camp hospital and aviation facility.“Anywhere there are troops, we like to go, shake their hands, thank them for their service, and remind them that The American Legion is there for their families back home,” Hill told Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hagburg, 116th Public Affairs Detachment.Hill expressed praise for U.S. troops serving in the volatile Balkans today, while most of the world’s attention is directed at Iraq and Afghanistan. “You are isolated, but everyone is totally dedicated to the mission,” Hill said. “You have no distractions, and you are on your own for your entertainment. It’s the kind of place where you can hone your skills and really develop.”The Legion delegation experienced some of Camp Bondsteel’s homegrown entertainment by taking part in an Asian Pacific Heritage Month luau on May 28 and watching a talent contest on May 29. The delegation also saw the Kosovo countryside on a tour, led by MNBG East’s Regional Liaison Monitoring teams, of the Church of the Black Madonna, the Binach Church, and the Racak Memorial.Hill and Navarreté said they both learned a lot about the role of the National Guard and the Army Reserve during their visit.“We have been working for a few years now with the military-support systems back home, especially with the National Guard,” Navarreté said. “I’m going to go home with a message for our people who work with the National Guard to let them know they really need to re-connect with our National Guard families.”The delegation left May 30, on their way to tour military installations in Italy before a scheduled visit to Normandy, France, June 4-6, to participate in D-Day anniversary ceremonies. Hill and Navarreté will lay wreaths in Ste. Mère Eglise and the Normandy American Cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer on June 5-6.The tour began with a visit to U.S. personnel stationed in the Kaiserslautern, an AFRICOM briefing, and a tour of the the Landstuhl Army Medical Center, where comfort items donated through The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors are collected and distributed. See Commander Hill’s blog posting on the Germany leg of the trip.