June 6th D-Day

June 6th -_ D-Day

156,000 soldiers landed on Omaha, Utah, Gold, Sword and Juno beaches to reclaim Europe from Nazi Germany on June 6th, 1944. Thousands would give their all on this day, Canadians, British, French and Americans. It was the one day in the early part of June that had clear enough weather the Allies could actually attempt the landing, and an attempt it was. The Germans had built up the beach defenses to an extreme and though the Allies were fairly sure they could hold some of the beaches it really was done on a hope and a prayer. The landings were preceded by parachute drops and the resistance causing as much havoc as they could. The landing, requested by the Russian, did succeed however and it was the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.

How to celebrate – Remember all those who served in World War 2 (there aren’t many left). Visit the beaches where many of the wrecks have been left reminding us of the day. Read a book written from those who survived the day.

August 16th National Airborne Day

In 2001, President George W. Bush created the National Airborne Day to honor our soldiers that strike from above. Organized prior to America’s entry into World War 2 their first jump came on August 16th, 1940.

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Their most famed jump came on the evening before D-Day, June 5th, 1944. Their job was to jump in behind enemy lines, with limited supplies and light weapons, hold roads and bridges, and cut off reinforcements from reaching the beaches where the rest of the army would be coming ashore. When the actual invasion began, they received light reinforcement from glider troops, also considered airborne, but had to hold against all odds. Badly out numbered, scattered by winds and mistaken landmarks, the few able to fight did hold until troops from the landings reached them. These men of the 82nd and 101st Airborne performed well above expectations.

They would be called upon again during Operation Garden Market and then at the Battle of the Bulge, each time proving their worth and value. The “All American” and “Screaming Eagles” were among some of the most decorated soldiers of World War 2.

airborne_posterSince World War 2 the 82nd and 101st have added the 173rd to their brotherhood, serving in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. Their units are made up of Airborne,

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Rangers

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and Special Forces.

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They have earned their wings and the right to be called, “Death From Above”.

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How to celebrate – Read up on our Airborne forces. See if you can find a exhibit on the Airborne in your area. Watch “The Longest Day” a movie that includes stories about the Normandy invasion.

 

June 6th D-Day

D-Day was the beginning of the end of Hitler’s Europe. It started long before the actual invasion when spies and intelligence groups began trying to persuade Hitler that the invasion was coming somewhere else at a different time. Months were spent using known German spies in the UK, feeding them false information and a little useless truth mixed in for good measure, that they then reported back to Germany.

Long believed the Allied forces best General, George S. Patton, was given command of the 1st US Army, which did not really exist. Rubber tanks and trucks were made to look real from the air to confirm the lies being fed to the German spies.

Then, on the day planned to launch the attack, the weather turned bad and the attacked had to be postponed. For a while, it looked like the invasion might have to wait for as long as another month giving the Germans a chance to discover the real plans for invasion. But one day presented itself as a possibility, June 6th, and Eisenhower, the supreme commander, decided to chance it. The target was Normandy and close to 5,000 ships set sail during some very rough seas.

First in, were the men and women of the French Resistance already on the ground. Their job was to blow up bridges, railroad tracks, and hamper any movement towards the beaches. Next came the Airborne forces from Canada, Britain, Free France, and the US. They were dropped behind the front lines to hold key cross roads, take out artillery and cause confusion. They did their jobs well.

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At dawn, the German sentries got to see what they were up against. Over 160,000 soldiers in an armada the likes of which had never been seen before. There were six beaches to be taken. Pointe Du Hoc was to be taken by the 2nd Ranger battalion, US.

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It was their job to go up the side of some very sheer cliffs and take artillery positions believe to be there. They scaled the cliffs only to find the guns had been removed. They did find them later, a short distance from where they were believed to be and destroyed them.

Free French and British troops tackled Sword Beach.

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Gold Beach fell to British Assault.

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Juno was taken by the Canadians.

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Utah and Omaha Beaches fell to the Americans after some heavy fighting.

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By the end of the day, all the beaches had been taken and Hitler’s wall had fallen. Had the Germans called up their full troops the entire invasion could have failed, but Hitler, still not believing this was the real assault held them back.  There were over 10,000 casualties to allied troops on June 6th, some 4,414 confirmed deaths.

How to celebrate: Just remember the day that so many sacrificed for. Read a book about the landings. Watch “Saving Private Ryan” – which many who were there said the movie was a little too real for them.