D-Day’s Only U.S. Military Chaplain Casualty Receives Salute from AMS

Father Ignatius Maternowski remembered as nation commemorates 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy

Father Ignatius Maternowski, the only U.S. military chaplain killed at Normandy.

Father Ignatius Maternowski, the only U.S. military chaplain killed at Normandy.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation prepares to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy on Friday, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS) salutes Father Ignatius Maternowski, the only United States military chaplain to die on D-Day.

A Franciscan priest and U.S. Army Captain, Father Maternowski was a chaplain andparatrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped into Normandy as part of the invasion on June 6, 1944. After attempting to negotiate with the Germans to assure care for the wounded on both sides in the village of Picauville, Father Maternowski was shot and killed by an unknown sniper.

His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the U.S. Military Services, said Father Maternowksi stands as a role model for military chaplains everywhere.

Archbishop Broglio said:

“Christ taught us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. When Father Maternowski was fatally shot at Picauville, he was attempting to negotiate with the Nazis to set up a field hospital for both Allied and German wounded soldiers. He walked into enemy territory, without a gun or helmet, in a brave effort to help the hurt and dying. He died courageously living out the words of our Savior, putting his life on the line to help others. Father Maternowski’s heroic sacrifice is an outstanding example of Christian love in practice, even in the face of great evil and adversity. As we pause to remember the brave who died to preserve our liberty on the beaches at Normandy, let us not forget Father Maternowski.”

On Friday, Father Maternowski’s alma mater, St. Francis High School, 4129 Lake Shore Road, Athol Springs, New York, will hold a brief ceremony during the 8:15 a.m. (EDST) home room period to remember the Franciscan who graduated from there in 1931.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Normandy, AMS Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer will give the invocation at theinternational memorial service to be televised around the world, with President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande in attendance.