Elizabethton resident to participate in reenactment of Normandy invasion

The Invasion of Normandy is perhaps one of the most famous battles of World War II, if not one of the most famous battles in military history. This year marks the 75th anniversary of that battle, and re-enactors from across the world are coming together to celebrate the sacrifices those men and women made to secure that historic beachhead, including a man from Elizabethton.

Jeff Campbell has been doing reenactments of famous battles for the past four years.

“We all enjoy watching a war movie,” Campbell said. “You want to feel a part of it. This is the next step.”

He said The Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop Living History Group messaged him on Facebook inviting him to attend the reenactment, after meeting them at a military/vintage festival a year ago in Kent, England.

“[My wife Patty and I] are often seen in downtown Elizabethton as part of the Car Show on a Saturday night in our vintage 1942 GPW Jeep,” he said.

When he received the invitation to go to Normandy itself to do the reenactment, he said he felt extremely honored.

“This is kind of like the Super Bowl of reenacting,” Campbell said. “It is beyond measure how important this is.”

Specifically, Campbell will be participating in the “Crisbecq Attack” on the Crisbecq Battery on the French shore, one of the gun encampments that made the amphibious assault from the shore difficult for Allied Forces.

He said none of the reenactments are about himself or his own accomplishments. Rather, his performances are about the real-life veterans watching his reenactments of battles they themselves participated in.

“It is humbling that, 75 years later, we have not forgotten,” he said.

He said this will probably be the last reenactment there that will feature a lot of WWII veterans watching, as many veterans of WWII simply are not alive any longer.

“We want to represent them as accurately as we can,” he said. “We will never be able to fully replicate the experience, but we want the audience to see the struggles.”

All of this, he said, is to honor the soldiers who made daily sacrifices to secure the freedoms Americans experience daily.

The reenactments will take place from June 7, the day of the initial invasion itself, to June 10. The group will showcase many battles besides the Crisbecq Battery and will feature President Trump and the French President Emmanuel Macron paying their respects during the event.

For those who cannot make it to France for the occasion, Campbell said Sycamore Shoals State Park will host an event on Labor Day weekend, where community members can bring in memorabilia of family members who participated in WWII for display. He said anyone looking for more information can contact Jennifer Bauer at 423-543-5808.

“It will truly be a momentous occasion,” Campbell said.

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