Today I’m remembering those that stormed the Normandy landing beaches seventy years ago. Among those that landed on 6 June 1944 were my father and uncle. My father was part of the Utah Beach landing with the 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division. This photo was taken at the rifle range in Georgia, USA before shipping out for England. Most likely many, if not all, of these men landed on D-Day.
The 4th Infantry Division landed 21,000 troops at the cost of about 197 casualties on D-Day. My father remembered the rough seas, and that the landing craft couldn’t come in too close to shore, because of the sand bars.The men had to jump out in water over their heads.
My uncle landed on Omaha Beach with the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. The 116th Infantry Regiment was the first to land on Omaha Beach. By the end of that day it is estimated that over 3,000 men were killed, wounded, missing, or taken prisoner from the troops that landed on Omaha Beach. Both my father and uncle were wounded in the days following D-Day. Only my father returned. My uncle, John Doran, was killed in August 1944 storming the gates of Brest, France.
Five years ago I had the chance to go to France and see the Normandy beaches, and honor those that fought for liberty. It was a few days after the ceremonies for the 65th Anniversary. Simply seeing where the Ranger troops first came ashore and scaled the cliffs was humbling.
Walking on the wide sands of Omaha Beach, and looking east and west towards the other beaches, I thought of all of those that sacrificed their lives that day for freedom. Most important is that those fallen are honored and remembered. At the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial you can hear the surf from the beach below. So many died so young. Thank you to all that served – on land, or in the air, or on the seas – and also to all the men and women that helped plan D-Day.