WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, completed a five day visit in France this weekend with the Chief of Staff of the French Navy Adm. Bernard Rogel.
Greenert was invited to France by Rogel to attend D-Day commemoration ceremonies, visit naval facilities and discuss cooperative efforts between the two navies.
"Our two nations share an important relationship that goes back many wars," said Greenert. "From carrier operations to professional exchange programs to global operations, we continue to grow and strengthen the interoperability between our navies."
Earlier this year, the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) and French Navy Task Force 473 concluded five weeks of combined carrier strike group operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility. The two strike groups operated together in the northern Arabian Sea and the Arabian Gulf to enhance regional maritime security and stability.
"Adm. Rogel and I took the watch two weeks apart in 2011, so we've been together now for over three years, working on different matters," said Greenert. "We've grown our relationship through exchange of liaison officers and hope to increase cooperation as we look toward the future," said Greenert.
In Cherbourg, France, Rogel welcomed Greenert with a full-honors ceremony followed by visits to the Cherbourg Naval Shipbuilding Facility and the Maritime Prefecture Residence. At the end of the day, Greenert and Rogel traveled to Utah Beach for a D-Day commemorative ceremony.
While at Utah, in a special naval specific tribute before the main ceremony, Greenert laid a wreath in honor of D-Day at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Ste Marie due Mont. Greenert was joined by Sailors from USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) at the ceremony whose crew were on hand to participate in demonstrations supporting the anniversary events.
Afterwards, Greenert joined Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and other senior U.S. and French military leaders at a ceremony at Utah Beach. During the ceremony, approximately 10 Legion of Honor medals were awarded to veterans.
"Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to our Navy veterans for their significant role in the success of D-Day Joint and Allied operations," said Greenert. "We should always remember the lessons learned in the past, reinforce our warfighting principles we practice today - by honoring our history we can secure our future."
On Friday, Rogel and Greenert joined 18 heads of state including the presidents of the United States and France, along with many senior military leaders, veterans and thousands of supporters at the American Cemetery in Colleville sur Mer to honor the first day of Operation Overlord, or D-Day.
"There is no better place to be reminded of the sacrifice and to pay our respects than on the beaches of Normandy," said Greenert. "On June 6, 1944, a generation was faced with a daunting mission - to place the collective notion of freedom and democracy above all else."
Greenert and Rogel wrapped up the trip with cultural visits and a military band concert in Caen. The concert, "Tattoo of Freedom" International Festival of Military Bands, hosted 500 musicians from nine different nations who took part in the Normandy operations.
"The performances were memorable - especially our U.S. Naval Forces Europe Band. They displayed tremendous talent and made us all very proud," said Greenert.
This was the second visit by Greenert to Rogel during Greenert's tenure as CNO.