First Army Celebrates VE Day

May 8, 2020

Although no formal ceremony will be held Friday, First Army, based on Arsenal Island, will celebrate an important anniversary - for itself and for the nation. It's V-E Day, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, and First Army played a key role in that victory.

Lieutenant General Thomas James is the Commanding General of First Army.

"We had a number of firsts - we were the first organization or field army to land on the beaches of Normandy, to liberate France, to break the Siegfried Line, to enter into Germany, first across the River Rhine, and then to link up with our Russian allies at the Elbe."

Lt. Gen. Thomas James, Commanding General of First Army
Credit First Army

And James says following the victory in Europe, First Army began preparing to deploy to the Pacific to invade Japan, but its surrender made that unnecessary. 

First Army was formed by General John J. Pershing in World War I, as part of the American Expeditionary Force in France. 

"We say we stand on the shoulders of giants and those giants are those great warriors that fought back in World War I and World War II."

General James says he had the privilege of talking this week with two World War II veterans who fought across Europe with First Army, serving in Normandy, France, and in Germany, including the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp.