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Omaha: 65 Years


It's been 65 years, and a few months, since our troops went ashore at bloody Bloody Omaha. 


Far too many never made it fully onto the beach, much less off of it. 


Today, the view from the top of the bluffs is far different than it was on that miserable June day.  Trees and brush have grown up, dunes have been allowed to pile up, and time has marched on.  Yet, for all that time has marched, some things have stood still. 


The beach is still there, at the foot of the bluffs, seen here looking WNW towards Pointe-du-Hoc.  Then, only patrols walked the beach and the area was thick with anti-landing obstacles.  Along the bluffs were a network of fortifications:  trenches, mortar pits, machine gun emplacements, and -- as seen above, the embrasures for larger guns. 



The view up is far different now, with brush and even small trees growing where once all was made bare for clear lanes of fire.  The terrain is tough, the bluffs steep and not terribly fun or easy to climb under the best of circumstances.  In walking the terrain, I ended up uttering words that I thought never to pass my lips:  "Thank God for Adolph Hitler!"  For if Hitler had not ignored and overridden his on-scene commanders, the fortifications would have been far more extensive, and the empty gun and mortar pits full.  In doing my far too brief a walk, I came to the opinion that in that case, the doubt of Omaha on that June Day would have been a certainty of failure, and a rout. 



That is not to denigrate or otherwise insult those who went ashore that day, but a simple fact.  The success of the Omaha landing was in doubt until late in the day.  Imagine if the bunkers, such as this one with clear fields of fire and protection from naval gunfire, had been full instead of half (or more in some cases) empty. 


Bits of those fortifications still dot the landscape.  An entrance here,


Mortar pits and more nearby


Bunkers no longer connected idly by


The Engineers gave all that day, going forward knowing they would die but still clearing the way.  They crawled whole, they crawled wounded, and blew open slowly and surely the ways inland.  The survivors reduced the bunkers, spiked the guns, and opened the way.


Behind them, beside them, the infantry.  Names in gold but hint at the tales of courage, bravery, and honor that day.  Names in gold, quite a few in fact, that earned The Medal that day; and, many more who oft did near or as much, giving their lives so that others could crawl forward another inch into France. 


Watered by blood, the Mulberry's did bloom, and the tide ran inland strong. The trails around the bluffs and beach have odd branchings, that are well worth taking and exploring.


Where once barbed wire entangled and blocked, the brambles now bloom with sweet fruit upon the vine.


Today at the top, near the cemetery, is a memorial and museum.  It looks out over the bluffs, running water flowing out to greet the ghostly waves coming in. 

My time there was far too short, not much of an afternoon, and of the two things I had as "have to do" that day,only one was done, and that far briefer than I dreamed or planned.  My goal is to return, to spend the time that is proper and right along that shore.  To spend a day or more at bloody, Bloody Omaha.  I care not when I go, just that return I must.  If any care to join me, give a yell, and we will visit that which once was hell. 

Omaha, bloody, Bloody Omaha.  Thank God for those that fought and died on you.