March 19, 2024

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU ROTC Excited for Inaugural D-Day Study Abroad in France



VALDOSTA — A group from Valdosta State University’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 172 will travel to Normandy, France, this summer to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

“This is the first time our cadets will have an opportunity to study abroad through the Aerospace Studies program,” shared Lieutenant Colonel Lucas Brommer, commander of VSU’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 172.

“We are the only Air Force ROTC detachment in South Georgia. It is important for our cadets to learn about the important role of military training in South Georgia during World War II, particularly with training pilots who were pivotal to the success of the D-Day invasion. Several cadets already toured the World War II Flight Training Museum in Douglas, Georgia, gaining an appreciation for the nearly 10,000 aviation cadets who trained there between 1941 and 1944.”

Historians refer to D-Day as the beginning of the end of World War II.

On June 6, 1944, American, British, and Canadian troops landed on the coast of Normandy, France, where they faced a determined German resistance. Tens of thousands of lives were lost as the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy and fought to liberate France. By August 1944, the Germans had been removed from the region and the Allies prepared to enter Germany, where they joined forces with Soviet troops advancing on Germany from the East.

Germany surrendered in May 1945.

“It is important for future military leaders to commemorate this significant operation in our military history, which marked a critical turning point during World War II in Europe,” Brommer shared.

Grant Lopez is one of 12 cadets scheduled to participate in VSU’s inaugural study abroad experience in Normandy, France. He serves as cadet wing commander of the university’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 172. He anticipates graduating from VSU with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in May, commissioning as an officer in the United States Air Force, and pursuing a career in intelligence. 

“D-Day was a significant historical moment, and I believe a lot of lessons for the future can be learned from the past,” he shared. “I know this study abroad experience will expand our world view and make us better leaders. The U.S. is one part of a big world filled with different cultures and perspectives. I’m excited to learn more about the role the U.S. has played and continues to play in the rest of the world and how we work closely with our allies and partners to maintain stability and deter aggression.”

Brommer expects this study abroad experience will have a transformative impact on the VSU cadets.

“By seeing the degree of sacrifice first-hand at our American military cemeteries in Normandy, our students will develop a sense of what it means to be an American Airman or Guardian, fighting in the forces that make and keep us a free nation,” he said.

The experiential learning opportunity in Normandy will help the VSU cadets gain a better understanding of “the complexity and sacrifice that goes with high-end conflict,” Brommer added. “They will learn about the planning and lead-up to D-Day prior to the trip, and while in France, they will immerse themselves in the environment and reflect on lessons they can apply as future leaders.”

“This is the first overseas trip for most of our students,” he continued. “We hope they gain an appreciation for learning about other cultures and languages. Additionally, we want them to build lifelong memories and connections with each other before they go their separate ways as they begin service in the Air Force or Space Force.”

Donors interested in supporting VSU’s Air Force ROTC cadets should visit

Families of World War II veterans, especially those who served in Normandy, France, and historians with knowledge of South Georgia’s role in World War II are encouraged to contact Brommer at The cadets are interested in hearing their stories before traveling abroad.

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