Va. National Guard officer to be promoted to brigadier general June 6 at D-Day Memorial in Bedford

Col. Lapthe Flora

Col. Lapthe Flora

SANDSTON, Va. — Col. Lapthe C. Flora will be promoted to brigadier general at 9:30 a.m. at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Flora, a native of Saigon, will be the first Vietnamese boat person to be promoted to general officer in the United State Army and the second of Vietnamese descent. He most recently served as the commander of the Virginia National Guard’s Bowling Green-based 91st Troop Command and will serve as the Assistant Adjutant General for Strategic Initiatives.

Following the Communist capture of Saigon in 1975, Flora and his brothers fled the city to avoid being drafted in to the North Vietnamese military. He spent more than three years in the jungle, then fled by boat to Indonesia where he spent a year living in three separate refugee camps.

When he arrived in the U.S., he quickly learned English and finished his high school education in only three years. After high school Flora attended the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington where he earned a bachelor’s degree and commission in the U. S. Army Reserve in 1987. He later transferred to the Virginia Army National Guard where he served in every staff position within 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, including commander of the battalion.

Additionally, Flora served as the 116th IBCT executive officer, 29th Infantry Division’s director of operations and as the Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia director of strategic plans and policy. He has successfully completed three overseas deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Flora’s adopted father was an officer in the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division who landed on Normandy 72 years ago, and part of the reason he chose to have his promotion in Bedford was to honor his father’s military service.

In his civilian capacity, Flora is the Senior Applications Engineer with Night Vision business of Harris Corporation in Roanoke, and holds six patent awards related to the AN/PVS-14 and AN/AVS-9 night vision goggles.

The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia — the community suffering the highest per capita D-Day losses in the nation. The Memorial honors the Allied forces that participated in the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 during World War II.

The commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of D-Day will follow at 11 a.m. More information about the event is copied below:

72nd Anniversary of D-Day – A National Tribute to our Heroes

Pay tribute to those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Normandy 72 years ago and honor those who lived to fight another day.

The commemoration will begin at 11:00 AM with music by the 29th Division Band and a flyover of an original P-51 Mustang, painted with the Operation Overlord recognition stripes. The ceremony will proceed to pay tribute to valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the D-Day participants, with a D-Day veteran, Norwood Thomas, providing the keynote address “A Paratrooper’s Remembrance.” In addition, a new plaque will be dedicated to commemorate the role of combat medics. General Timothy Williams, Adjutant General of the Virginia National Guard, will also speak.

Afterwards, the crowd will gather at sculpture Homage for our traditional recognition of the D-Day soldiers and to renew our promise never to forget.

Then, beginning at 12:30, for the first time ever, we will stage a public reading of the names of all 2,499 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and coastguardsmen who lost their lives during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. Over the course of a few hours, a team of readers (including staff, volunteers, family members of the fallen, local and regional dignitaries, and others) will alternate to pay tribute to every one of the fallen American heroes from that epic day, with the solemn roll call punctuated by moving and patriotic music from the 29th Division Band.

We believe that this long-overdue tribute to those who gave their all on June 6, 1944 will be an event of national and even international significance. Therefore, we are working to arrange a satellite feed for the reading of the names. This will allow viewers across the globe to tune in and experience this moving ceremony, and help to spread the word about our Memorial. Make plans now to join us for this poignant commemoration.

A Veterans Reunion tent will be set-up as a gathering place during the event. Food will be available for purchase. Music by the 29th Division Band will entertain during the day as well as close out the event at 9 p.m. with the playing of Taps. Admission is free all day. D-Day veterans are asked to reserve their parking pass and seat by May 27th. Call (540) 586-3329 for more information.