A Struggle to Preserve Our Republic...The 65th Anniversary of D-Day
Posted By Blackfive • [June 06, 2009]
[This post is bumped up to the top and will be kept at the top of the blog through tomorrow]
"In the final choice, a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower
On June 6th, 1944, over 150,000 men landed by air
and sea in Normandy to liberate Europe from Nazi oppression. Operation
Overlord planned for the invasion of the 50-mile stretch of coast to be
completed in just 24 hours.
In years past, we've had a military bloggers and friends post about D-Day. (We used to call them blog-bursts.) So, in an effort to continue to preserve the history and honor of our efforts long ago, we will post these blog posts and add new ones every year. We intend to keep this at the top of the blog until June 7th. The D-Day blog burst is after the Jump and will be updated as bloggers submit (send me your links via email).
"..The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the
cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades.
And the American Rangers began to climb..." - President Ronald Reagan, at the Ranger Monument, 6 June 1984, in Pointe Du Hoc, Normandy, France
Welcome to a MilBlogs And Friends Special Edition of the Anniversary of D-Day!
Below you will find links to extraordinary bloggers telling
the stories of D-Day from their unique perspectives. Instead of term
paper descriptions, you'll see the beaches and cliffs of the Normandy
coast, you'll read letters of the survivors and hear about the great
sacrifices made by our neighbors to the north...and you'll never forget
the Greatest Generation.
Let us begin:
We'll start with this video presentation of President Roosevelt's radio address asking the nation to pray for the men invading France:
Joe Katzman (Blackfive's favorite Cannuck) at Winds of Change covers one of my parts of D-Day - The Canadians at Juno.
The Canadians had some of the toughest fighting ahead of them on Juno
Beach, and their objective was to stop the Germans from targeting the
Americans on Omaha Beach. They performed brilliantly on June 6th,
driving deeper into France than any other landing - and engaging the
21st Panzer before it could crush the American beachhead at Omaha. This
is the story of one of the Canadians in Juno's first wave: Jim Wilkins,
B Company, The Queen's Own Rifles. Includes a map and photo.
...If you where a Private in the 75th Ranger Regiment, you grew up knowing
about Point Du Hoc. If you were a private in 2nd Ranger Battalion you
learned it the way Catholic grammar school children learn the Bible. On
D-day the men of 2nd Ranger Battalion drew one the hardest missions of
the invasion: Scale the sheer and unprotected cliff faces of Point Du
Hoc to destroy the captured French 155mm artillery pieces - the big
guns that could rain hell on both the Omaha and Utah landing beaches –
the guns that could jeopardize the success or failure of the Normandy
landings. The mission was equally impossible and critical and its
success hinged on Colonel James Rudder’s 225 men. They were equipped
with ladders borrowed from the London fire department and ropes with
Grim Beorn of Grim's Hall
has written about the Scot's role in the Invasion of Normandy. Grim
adds in an email, "Since BBC Scotland has decided not to do a D-Day
memorial for the Scots who fought there, we who have not forgotten will
Winds of Change guest blogger J.K.L. has a piece about the deceptions
that were launched to keep the Germans guessing. Imagine preparing to
land more than 1,000,000 men on 50 miles of beach. There will be more
than 2,700 ships, 2,500 landing craft and 700 warships. Preparations
for an assault on this scale couldn't be hidden or kept totally secret,
so what could be done protect the identity of the actual target and
confuse the enemy?
Jennifer of Jennifer's History and Stuff has a series about what life in France was like before the invasion - French History: The Occupation. Jennifer writes, "...the Occupation is the most-studied period of French history."
Drill Sergeant Rob of An American Soldier takes a look
at the way the soldiers of Operation Overlord trained for war, from
Basic Training to the Devon Coast in England prior to the invasion. And
a look at how it parallels some of the training we conduct today,
including how little the basics have changed over the last sixty years.
...There are already hopes that actual tactical surprise has been
attained, and we hope to furnish the enemy with a succession of
surprises during the course of the fighting. The battle that has now
begun will grow constantly in scale and in intensity for many weeks to
come, and I shall not attempt to speculate upon its course. This I may
say, however. Complete unity prevails throughout the Allied Armies.
There is a brotherhood in arms between us and our friends of the United
"Men, this stuff we hear about America wanting to stay out of the
war, not wanting to fight, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to
fight - traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of
battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble player;
the fastest runner; the big league ball players; the toughest boxers.
Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans
despise cowards. Americans play to win - all the time. I wouldn't give
a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That's why Americans
have never lost, not ever will lose a war, for the very thought of
losing is hateful to an American."
"You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you here today
would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Every man is
frightened at first in battle. If he says he isn't, he's a goddamn
liar. Some men are cowards, yes! But they fight just the same, or get
the hell shamed out of them watching men who do fight who are just as
scared. The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared.
Some get over their fright in a minute under fire, some take an hour.
For some it takes days. But the real man never lets fear of death
overpower his honor, his sense of duty to this country and his innate
"In this column I want to tell you what the opening of the second front
in this one sector entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and
forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for
Ashore, facing us, were more enemy troops than we had in
our assault waves. The advantages were all theirs, the disadvantages
all ours. The Germans were dug into positions that they had been
working on for months, although these were not yet all complete.
one-hundred-foot bluff a couple of hundred yards back from the beach
had great concrete gun emplacements built right into the hilltop. These
opened to the sides instead of to the front, thus making it very hard
for naval fire from the sea to reach them. They could shoot parallel
with the beach and cover every foot of it for miles with artillery
Then they had hidden machine-gun nests on the forward
slopes, with crossfire taking in every inch of the beach. These nests
were connected by networks of trenches, so that the German gunners
could move about without exposing themselves..."
Make no mistake about it, D-Day was an infantry fight, and they paid
for every square inch of that beach with blood. The sacrifices of the
Rangers, the Line, and The Airborne cannot be forgotten. But there were
a vast many "other" units that made the day possible, participated in
the direct firefight, and in many instances gave their lives providing
cover for the crunchies until they could give no more.
I said it means a lot to me, and not just because I'm in the military
myself, but because my dad was there. He was one of those young, brave
American soldiers who "hit the beach" that day and survived...
Seasickness. It’s an utterly vile condition, worse, I think, than any
other type of motion sickness. When you’re seasick, your entire body
is rebelling against you. Worse, there’s no escape. You’re trapped in
the middle of an endless ocean, feeling about as bad as it’s possible
for a human to feel...
...For myself and my generation, and for generations that follow, it sets
the benchmark. Cries of "Currahee!" still inspire feats of amazing
courage, and raise the wounded from comas. Young Soldiers, particularly
in the Airborne, are still bred with stories of their regiment's legacy
from that day, the night that preceded it and the months that followed
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.