An Honor of a Lifetime for the Amityville Pipers

The Amityville American Legion Pipe Band have led the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for the Montauk Friends of Erin since 1964. Recently, they we chosen to represent the United States at the June 6th, D-Day Celebration in Normandy France. It’s the trip of a lifetime that they will not soon forget.

The pipers performed official music for all events, including Wreath Laying and Commemoration Ceremonies at Brittany and Omaha Beach American Cemeteries, and parade services in Sainte-Mère-Église (the first town liberated by American paratroopers on D-Day).

In addition to the formal ceremonies, the band had a few additional memorable experiences while in France. One was at the parade in Sainte-Mère-Église, where they had the honor of a visit from the American Legion National Commander, Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola. [Gentleman with the red cap, pictured with band, in front of the town.]

The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France is located in Colleville-sur-Mer, on the site of the temporary American St. Laurent Cemetery, established by the U.S. First Army on June 8, 1944 as the first American cemetery on European soil in World War II. The cemetery site, at the north end of its half mile access road, covers 172.5 acres and contains the graves of 9,386 of our military dead, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. On the Walls of the Missing, in a semicircular garden on the east side of the memorial, are inscribed 1,557 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.

Another memorable event occurred at the Normandy Wreath Laying Ceremony. Post Commander Bryan Schell of the American Legion Post in France [founding post-1919 after WWI], met with the band following the official Normandy wreath laying at the Normandy American Cemetery. The Amityville Pipers presented the Commander with an American Flag flown over Sagamore Hill. [The estate of Theodore Roosevelt, in Oyster Bay, LI.}  While meeting with the Commander, they discovered that his father was a past L I Parks Commissioner who stayed at Sagamore Hill. Small world!

Paris Post 1 is a legacy post for the American Legion, it was created when American soldiers were still in Europe after WWI. It was a time when up to 2 million U.S. soldiers had just finished with a bloody war, and they had to wait sometimes up to 2 years to get a ship back to the USA. Some soldiers never made it back, some stayed because they fell in love or they had started a new life.

The idea of the American Legion was created in Paris in 1919 by these soldiers, and Paris Post 1 was opened up the same year. It is the first, and the oldest, American Legion post outside of the United States. We have been able to maintain our post during many difficulties including WWII when Paris Post 1 had to temporarily move to New York City during the Nazi occupation of Paris. One of our American Legion members stayed behind and joined the French resistance only to be executed by the Nazis while trying to defeat Germany.

After the ceremony at the cemetery, they visited the gravesite of Brigadier General Theodor Roosevelt Jr., eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and first lady Edith Roosevelt. He led the first wave of troops ashore at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in June 1944. At the time of his death from a heart attack in July 1944, he had been recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross to recognize his heroism at Normandy. The recommendation was subsequently upgraded, and Roosevelt was a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. He had also served in WWI and was one of the founders of the 1st American Legion Post in France, in 1919.

Next to him is his youngest brother Quenton Roosevelt II who was among the first wave of soldiers to land at Omaha Beach while his father landed with the first wave at Utah Beach on D-Day, earning the Silver StarPurple Heart, and French Croix de Guerre for his war service. He was promoted to Major by the end of war and left active service.

The Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. The battle began on June 6, 1944, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history.

 On the 79th Anniversary of D-Day, the Amityville American Legion Pipe Band honored the brave servicemen who fought in that battle; many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

The Brittany American Cemetery contains the remains of 4,404 of our war dead, most of whom lost their lives in the Normandy and Brittany Campaigns of 1944. Along the retaining wall of the memorial terrace are inscribed the names of 500 of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.

We are proud of The Amityville Pipers, as a local pipe band, this honor is something to celebrate. To see more about the band and their journey, visit:

Below is some information about a piper, Bill Millin, who did his part during the D-Day invasion. I know it must have been inspiring for the Amityville group to see this in person and specially to play their bagpipes on “Sword Beach”,  the same ground where Bill played during the invasion.

Millin was the personal piper of Lord Lovat Fraser whose Commando Brigade landed on Sword Beach on D-Day. Although not officially allowed, Piper Bill Millin marched up and down the beach during the landings and then later as they moved inland.

According to an article by Michael D. Hull, 2019, on June 5, 1944 –At one of many embarkation docks, Warsash, at the mouth of the River Hamble in Hampshire, Commandos of the crack 2,500-strong British 1st Special Service Brigade clambered aboard 22 landing craft that would take them across the English Channel to Normandy. One of the soldiers was boyish-looking, unassuming William “Bill” Millin of the Cameron Highlanders, the personal bagpiper of Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, the brigade’s handsome, charismatic commander…

Wearing a battledress tunic and the kilt of the Clan Cameron, Millin stood on the bow, took his pipes out of their box, and started playing the old Scottish air “Road to the Isles” as the landing craft steamed out of the Solent, between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and into the Channel…

Amid the thump of mortars, shouts, and the whine of machine-gun fire, Millin strode coolly back and forth along the beach, skirling while men streamed past him… [as depicted in the film, The Longest Day]

The only bagpiper and the only kilted soldier in the powerful Allied armada, 21-year-old Bill Millin was to become a singular figure in D-Day lore. He died at the age of 88 on August 17, 2010.  Also in 2010, plans began to memorialize Piper Millin in France when the mayor of Colleville-Montgomery, a town on Sword Beach, offered a site for a life-size statue near the spot where he went ashore on June 6, 1944. It stands today as a tribute to Millin.

 On the last day of their tour, while in Paris, a few of the members took a side trip to the suburb of Le Bourget, the sister city to Amityville, NY: the Amityville-Le Bourget Alliance began in 1979. The group had a visit planned with Mayor Jean-Baptiste Borsali, so they could present him with a citation of appreciation. To their surprise, the mayor had a ceremony for them, including a brass band, welcoming them to the city.

The experiences are priceless, the honor well deserved, and the recognition for participation continues. I was just informed that the Amityville American Legion Pipe Band made such an impression on the organizer of the ceremonies that they have been invited to participate in the December 2025 Pearl Harbor Ceremony. Congratulations to all members on such an honor!