The Gallant Few

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France. The first thing you notice, at the end of the narrow roads that lead to this precipice, is how peaceful this place is. The cliffs are thick with rough green vegetation and drop down sharply, then more gradually to a Prussian blue sea and a windswept beach. Omaha Beach.

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The pathway to the Normandy American Cemetery where more than 9,300 servicemen and a few servicewomen are buried—neat rows of milk-white marble crosses, 150 Stars of David, and 307 graves of unknown dead that read, simply, “Here rests in honored glory a comrade in arms, known but to God.”

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I had been told nothing quite prepares you for this place, and it was true.

Consider how many tens of thousands of individual decisions were necessary to achieve the cumulative effect of breaching the German defenses so enough Allied troops could pour into Europe to defeat the Nazis. At Omaha, the troops traversed more than 200 yards of beach, then had to scale 35 to 60 yards of cliffs, all while under enemy fire.

In all, about 225,000 service members were killed or wounded or went missing in Normandy from June to August 1944, including 134,000 Americans and 91,000 Britons, Canadians, and Poles, as well as 18,000 French civilians. The Germans lost more than 400,000 soldiers in Normandy.

Between Omaha Beach and Utah Beach is Pointe du Hoc, a steep, narrow cliff that juts into the channel. A unit of 225 Army Rangers scaled this cliff in bad weather under enemy assault, and Reagan memorialized their efforts in his speech below.

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"When the front of these landing crafts went down, we just took off," said Zeitchik, now 93 years old. "We couldn't see where to fire. We just had to get off the beach and try to find the rest of the unit."

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Along a 50-mile stretch of coastline in northern France, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed Utah Beach and four other beaches that day to gain a foothold in continental Europe. By the end of the D-Day invasion, more than 9,000 of those Allied troops were either dead or wounded..........the majority of them Americans.

Army Pvt. Arnald Gabriel recalled wading through the cold ocean water after his landing craft failed to make it all the way to Omaha Beach. "The water, believe it or not, in June was awfully cold, and that with the combination of fear, it was quite an experience," he said. A machine gunner with the 29th Infantry Division, Gabriel described a how the chaotic scene unfolded.

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"With the Air Force overheard, the Navy shelling enemy positions, the enemy firing at you and we're firing at them, it was just total chaos," he said. "Nobody landed where they were supposed to. I landed way over to the left flank and ended up with the 1st Infantry Division. It took me a day to get back and find the 29th Division. It was that kind of chaos."

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Under the dark of night, even as an armada of vessels packed the English Channel with an invasion force, Henry Langrehr and several hundred paratroopers jumped into the French countryside to blow up bridges and prevent German forces from mounting a counterattack. The jump devolved into carnage, with planes shot from the sky and others forced to drop soldiers too low for their chutes to open.

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Langrehr crashed through the glass roof of a greenhouse on the outskirts of Sainte-Mère-Église. His friend John Steele was famously caught on the church steeple, only surviving because he hung there playing dead for hours.

Langrehr summed up that historic day: “I remember looking out from the plane, seeing the troops ready to take the beaches and the parachutes floating in the air around me, and thinking, ‘Only America could do this."

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A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
Some 200 parachutists who filled the Normandy skies of France for the 75th anniversary of the invasion as they leapt from vintage C-47 Dakota planes in what was a moving sight. They were honoring the airborne soldiers who jumped into gunfire and death ahead of the June 6, 1944, seaborne invasion. Their engines throbbing, the C-47 transporters dropped group after group of parachutists.




May 30, 2019 95-year-old D-Day parachuter reliving his jump 75 years on.

He was just 20-years-old when as a young wireless operator he parachuted on to the beaches in Normandy to fight the Germans. Next week he will repeat the feat as part of the celebrations. I've been to meet him at his home in Bournemouth and began by asking him if he was nervous about the jump.





On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, paratroopers - including 97-year old American D-Day veteran Tom Rice - leap out of aircraft over the Normandy countryside, in tribute to the soldiers who participated in the Allied Landings in Normandy on 6 June 6 1944.



The voices of courage









 

Lawman

Well-Known Member
The most fascinating fact about D-day was the extraction plan for the airborne troops if the beach landings had failed.

There wasn't one.

They jumped anyway.

That’s one of several reasons you have to be a little touched in the head to be Airborne.

Jump into the Enemy’s backyard with nothing heavier than can be carried to fight people with trucks, tanks, and most importantly reinforcements/resupply. Then fight like hell and pray to god the Armor shows up before you run out of food water bayonets and hate to sustain you.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

mrivc211

Well-Known Member
Langrehr summed up that historic day: “I remember looking out from the plane, seeing the troops ready to take the beaches and the parachutes floating in the air around me, and thinking, ‘Only America could do this."

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And America is still the only country that has the capability to do this in 2019. These "kids" that went to war for our country saved our country and set the world order for that matter for whats coming up to being 100 years. It's obvious the debt and gratitude we all owe them, what bothers me or maybe worries me is seeing the caliber of "kid" in America at the age of 18 in 2019 vs. those 18 year olds flying planes, storming beaches, and sacrificing everything. Kids are on anti anxiety medication because they can't face realities of life today. 18 years olds were being asked to go to war for us back then. Thanks all you guys that are serving our country past and present. I contacted the Air Force reserve a few months ago to join but since I"m turning 40 in January I'm a little late to the party. :(
 
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A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
It is difficult to imagine that the average age of a soldier in WWII was only 26 years old. There were boys who were 16 and 17 years old that lied about their age and joined the Military to fight against Hitler and Hirohito. These young boys and men traveled half way around the world to do so. They were farmers, ranchers, mechanics, carpenters, ordinary citizens from every walk of life, most of who had never even traveled outside of their home state before. Yet, they encompassed and embraced the warrior heart.

Boys, who should be taking their girlfriend to a movie or a dance.

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Boys, who almost overnight became part of what would be known as The Greatest Generation. And they surely were.

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mrivc211

Well-Known Member
These young boys and men traveled half way around the world to do so. They were farmers, ranchers, merchanics, carpenters, ordinary citizens from every walk of life, most of who had never even traveled outside of their home state before. They encompassed the warrior heart.

Boys, who should be taking their girlfriend to a movie or a dance.
I was on a overnight in the mighty Brasilia around 2005/6 in Cody Wyoming. I remember on the approach thinking about how beautiful that place was. We got to the hotel late night so I couldnt see much but when I awoke in the morning and walked outside the motel, I saw this memorial/huge stone/plaque full of names of WWII KIA. At that moment I couldn't help but think about people that lived there peacefully, with no danger in their lives, volunteering to go to war and put themselves in harms way. They truly were a generation of hero's.
 

A Life Aloft

Well-Known Member
Jim “Pee Wee” Martin is one of the last remaining “Toccoa Originals” of 1942 (made famous by the HBO mini-series, “Band of Brothers”) who is still traveling, meeting the public and carrying forward an eyewitness account of his unit’s experiences. He does so as a representative of the Veterans of the 101st Airborne Division who are no longer here and in an effort to promote and preserve the legacy and lessons of the Second World War.

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SurferLucas

Southern Gentleman
I had the pleasure of visiting Normandy for the first time last November, on the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War I. It was one of the most moving places I've visited. We stayed in Grandcamp-Masey between Omaha and Utah Beaches. We drove to both beaches, early in the morning and standing there...almost completely alone, trying to imagine the sheer carnage and sight of the combined landing forces on D-Day. To be standing on such hallowed ground that young men (boys even) gave their lives on, it wasn't the chilly wind that made my eyes well up.

I grew up in Northeast Georgia, not far from the small town of Toccoa...home of Camp Toccoa and where Easy Company went from an experiment (they were an experimental airborne regiment) to having their stories of liberating Europe told by the series, Band of Brothers.

One of the most fascinating, and touching, things I witnessed at Normandy and surrounding areas was the fact that almost every house, it seemed, had a Tricolore and a Stars and Stripes displayed.

I'm going to include some pictures I took while I was there, along with some further commentary.

At the Vierville Draw, the "Ever Forward" statue stands, "In commemoration of the determined effort by the soldiers of the 29th Division's 116th Infantry Regimental Combat Team who landed the morning of June 6, 1944 on this section of Omaha Beach, known as Exit D-1, to open the Vierville Draw behind you to begin the liberation of Europe."



Les Braves consists of three elements:
"The wings of Hope so that the spirit which carried these men on June 6th, 1944 continues to inspire us, reminding us that together it is always possible to changing the future.
Rise, Freedom!, so that the example of those who rose against barbarity, helps us remain standing strong against all forms of inhumanity.
The Wings of Fraternity, so that this surge of brotherhood always reminds us of our responsibility towards others as well as ourselves.
On June 6th, 1944 these man were more than soldiers, they were our brothers."


La Point Du Hoc...showing craters from bombardment by US Navy, Royal Navy, etc ships as US Rangers climbed up 100ft high cliffs to disable Nazi fortification. Of the 225+ men, only 90 survived.


Cimetière Américain du Normandie...9,387 of America's bravest men lie here after the D-Day Invasion and subsequent operations in World War II. This was the most heart wrenching part of the trip...to see white crosses as far as the eye can see, gives one the overwhelming sense of enormity of the price American men were willing to pay.


A very quiet Utah beach...to be the only people walking along the beach, knowing that 75 years ago, it was soldiers, landing craft, naval shells streaking overhead, machine gun fire, and the smell of death in the air...it was surreal.


and the last picture...and one of my all time fav pictures. A headstone from the American Cemetery at Normandy...one that is for a soldier with a name known, only to God. A simple rose lies up against it. In the background you can see the English Channel, the same body of water this soldier came across, from who knows where in America, to fight and die for the cause of Freedom. I'll fully admit that after I took this picture, I had to to step away and use the ends of my shirt sleeves to dry my eyes.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
And America is still the only country that has the capability to do this in 2019. These "kids" that went to war for our country saved our country and set the world order for that matter for whats coming up to being 100 years. It's obvious the debt and gratitude we all owe them, what bothers me or maybe worries me is seeing the caliber of "kid" in America at the age of 18 in 2019 vs. those 18 year olds flying planes, storming beaches, and sacrificing everything. Kids are on anti anxiety medication because they can't face realities of life today. 18 years olds were being asked to go to war for us back then. Thanks all you guys that are serving our country past and present. I contacted the Air Force reserve a few months ago to join but since I"m turning 40 in January I'm a little late to the party. :(
That's a pretty broad brush you're painting with, man. I know what you're trying to say, but also acknowledge that there are still 18 year old kids lining up to serve.

And we're still asking them to go to war for us.
 

Low&Slow

Ancora imparo
"The eyes of the world are upon you.
The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you."
- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's message to troops before the Allied invasion, 1944.

I doodled this on a dry-erase board at work to commemorate my Airborne brothers on the 75th Anniversary of the invasion of France.

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Cherokee_Cruiser

Well-Known Member
Nice pics!

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Versus today’s rally cry of ask what your country can do for you. Period.
 

Cherokee_Cruiser

Well-Known Member
That's a pretty broad brush you're painting with, man. I know what you're trying to say, but also acknowledge that there are still 18 year old kids lining up to serve.

And we're still asking them to go to war for us.
I see what you are saying. But I also agree with the changing demographics. I’ve also seen a new trend that didn’t exist before. A disdain for service members. It wasn’t like that before. Now it’s like a stigma. As if these people chose to go to war? It’s not their fault and they’re just doing their jobs. I keep hearing “they shouldn’t be over there killing people” and it is said like that in a negative tone.
 

killbilly

Vocals, Lyrics, Triangle, Washboard, Kittens
I see what you are saying. But I also agree with the changing demographics. I’ve also seen a new trend that didn’t exist before. A disdain for service members. It wasn’t like that before. Now it’s like a stigma. As if these people chose to go to war? It’s not their fault and they’re just doing their jobs. I keep hearing “they shouldn’t be over there killing people” and it is said like that in a negative tone.
I have some thoughts on this but I think that a) there should be a different/new thread and b) I'm too lazy to start it.
 

NovemberEcho

Dergs favorite member
While I was beating up the pattern at Brookhaven today a D-Day memorial flight was taxiing out. Saw a Corsair, Mustang and T-6 and supposedly there was a Spitfire but I didn’t see him. Must have been a missing man formation.
 
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