Wednesday, June 06, 2007

D-Day, H-Hour.

At 0630 hours Normandy time, sixty-three years ago today, the bow ramps dropped on landing craft off the beaches of France, and a generation of young American men would stumble off them, through the bullet-churned water, and into immortality.
Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Forces: You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
With those words from General Eisenhower in their pockets, the men of the 29th and 1st Infantry Divisions went ashore at Omaha beach. Largely inexperienced, facing tricky tides, clever beach defenses, and the murderously accurate fire of the veteran German 352nd Infantry Division, they floundered through the blood-streaked surf to the rocky shingle of the French coast. Despite hideous losses (A Company, of the 116th Regiment, landing in the zone known as "Dog White", within minutes had only a couple of dozen men left out of 200; only one officer was still alive as of 0640, and all their sergeants were dead or wounded,) they fought on and secured the beaches.

If Waterloo is the defining moment of British arms, and Stalingrad is the symbol for the Russian army, then surely Omaha Beach stands as the mark of the American soldier. Despite blunders and confusion, chaos and disorder, and casualties our generation seems unable to fathom, those untried troops fought their way ashore through everything that was thrown against them, and prevailed. They helped keep the light of freedom shining over half a continent through the dark years to come.

We owe them.



Anonymous said...

Thank you, Tam, for this much needed reminder. The whole world and all of the generations to come do owe them. Let us never forget their courage, ideals and sacrifice.

Kevin said...

Very nice tribute.

staghounds said...

My friend Mr. Carter was the fool who had the idea, and then volunteered, to run medical supplies in to the rangers from the Harding. Proud to have known him.

And there were plenty of British, Canadian, and French soldiers on the beach that day. Poles, Czechs, Norwegians, Dutch- "I remember their boots - all the same on boys all so different."

Andy Rooney said it best- read the whole piece...

If you think the world is selfish and rotten, go to the cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer overlooking Omaha Beach. See what one group of men did for someone else on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Anonymous said...

This week in history will always remind me of bravery and sacrifice. Perhaps even more so than Memorial Day. ( That was a touching photo you posted on the 28th, by the way. ) We must never forget the two turning points in our two front war, Midway and Normandy. We must never forget the men and women who brought us through those turning points.

For those of our generation, World War 2 had only been over for 20 years or so when we were born. It didn't seem that long ago when I was growing up and it was the pinnacle event of the 20th century in my opinion. And there have been times over the years that I thought I should have been born into that place in history and not my own. It always seemed that close and that important to me.

I worry, though, that the generations that have already come after us regard the Second World War as some kind of ancient history. The world and our nation have changed so much since then. The children of this time, in general, have so much and so much instant gratification. Do they, can they, understand the sacrifices of that time?

I sincerely hope that they do understand the sacrifices made by that generation. I sincerely hope that their understanding of sacrifice is not whether to TiVo The OC while watching American Idol, or watch The OC and TiVo Idol.

That's not to discount the sacrifices made by the young men and women serving overseas as I type this. God Bless every one of them. They will always remember the sacrifices made by their own generation.

Matt G said...

"We owe them."

Yes, ma'am, we do.

Anonymous said...


God Bless 'em.

Thanks for the memorial Tams.
And special thanks to all you latter-day heirs of those guys.

Anonymous said...

God Bless America & the Soldiers who keep her safe, both past & present.
Nice job.

Brandon said...

My carbine showed up today. How fitting is it that it arrived on D-Day? Now it has even more personal significance to me.

I'll never forget.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

Just a bit of correction: The Big Red One was by no means inexperienced, having already fought in North Africa and Sicily before being called to England to prepare for OverLord.

They were the experienced backbone of the US invasion force, with the 29th, a National Guard formation, and the 4th Infantry (Utah Beach) Divisions going in green.

Similarly, the 82nd Airborne had fought in Sicily and Italy prior to Overloard, while the 101st was seeing their first combat.

Anonymous said...

I am currently working in the deserts of North Africa looking for oil. On the 6th, we were out driving across the desert and my driver pointed out that the tracks we just crossed were from Rommel, Auchinleck/Montgomery and the original SAS group.

That really struck me how real the war was and how many have given it all for us. It is astounding just to see the tracks 60 years later. I am sure going to Normandy must be the same.