June 6, 1944: A Hallowed Day | Beaufort County Now | It was discreetly referred to as Operation Overlord - the final push into Fortress Europe through the inflexible sea wall, built by the Nazi overlords, just a spare few miles from the free shores of Great Britain, where the entire United States Expeditionary Force was stationed.

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    It was discreetly referred to as Operation Overlord - the final push into Fortress Europe through the inflexible sea wall, built by the Nazi overlords, just a spare few miles from the free shores of Great Britain, where the entire United States Expeditionary Force was congregated awaiting deployment. Later it would de revered as D-Day - the "longest day," when Allied forces grasped a toehold on the beaches of Normandy in the Nazi occupied nation of France, and Vishay France to the south of the landing zone.

    It was the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The Allied forces: United States and Great Britain, and in lesser numbers; Canada, Norway, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands and Free France stormed the beaches of Normandy and unleashed the maelstrom of Allied might that within 11 months crushed the spine of the German Wehrmacht's western front.

    The combined Allied forces stormed the Normandy beaches, divided into four sectors: Gold, Juno, Sword and Utah, with the fifth sector, Omaha Beach, just the American soldiers. It was the bloodiest fighting of the day, with the Americans suffering nearly 5,000 casualties out of the overwhelming force of 50,000 brave soldiers that withstood the withering fire from entrenched Wehrmacht positions high above the sand and foam, stained to a scarlet hue from the blood of these bravest and best of all Americans, anywhere, that drew breath that June morning.

    The fighting from as much as 30 miles deep behind the Nazi sea wall, some of it quite heavy, was left to the well-trained young men of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions, who airdropped amidst hellacious anti-aircraft fire from below in the pitch black of that near moonless eve of that infamous Longest Day.

    It was a day long, exhaustive fight, whereby the Allied forces made their way ashore on the continent of Europe's mainland. It was also a day that must always be remembered for the ultimate sacrifice that so many young men so willingly gave, and by their supreme effort, preserved our freedoms that we still enjoy today. Should we ever forget their selfless sacrifice, we, as a free American people, do no longer deserve that gift of freedom that is continued by their unwavering courage that fateful day.
    Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower speaks to his airborne on June 5, 1944: Shown here with the storied 101st Airborne: Above. Even though this picture appears out of focus, I love this image. Soldiers, components of the U.S. Army's 1st Division (the "Big Red 1"), and one frightened photojournalist, embarking onto the shores of a 5 hour "Hell on Earth" at Omaha Beach: Below.

    I close with this poignant message from the Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight Eisenhower, delivered as these young American soldiers braved the hell that was Omaha Beach:

    "Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

    Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened, he will fight savagely.

    But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man to man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our home fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to victory!

    I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory!

    Good Luck! And let us all beseech the blessings of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

    Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

   Can you imagine yourself, enjoying the tranquility of your favorite beach on a beautiful June morning, juxtaposed against the irrepressible dread that seized into a terrible, tight knot within the hard, flat stomachs of these brave young American soldiers, as they make ready to storm the Hell that was bloody Omaha Beach? These young men are our collective fathers of this great land of liberty - the United States of America - and they are our "Greatest Generation:" Above.

   On June 7, 1944, the perished lives of so many fine American young men, that June day, culminated into this fissure into the great sea wall of Adolf Hitler's Fortress Europe, whereby over 250,000 men and material poured through this crack in just a mtter of days: Below.

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( June 6th, 2016 @ 1:52 pm )
Without a doubt in my mind, our problems today pale in comparison to those of that generation when the fate of the world was in their young hands. They are mostly gone now but will live on for as long as we chose to remember their sacrifice.
( June 8th, 2015 @ 12:35 pm )
Thanks Wes.

71 years ago today, the Allied troops were all over the beaches of Normandy, dug in, creating huge docks, moving huge amounts of material into Fortress Europe, taking coastal towns, and preparing to move into the infamous Hedgerows, to rid western France of Nazis, in their bloody push into Paris.

At that time my father, Robert Earle Deatherage, was finishing up his first year of NC State (they raised boys to be men back then), awaiting his 18th birthday (his mother would not sign for him at 17 to join) so he could join up, in August, 1944, to aid his nation at war.

My father would go to the Pacific Theater, help clean up the Philippines and Saipan, and then hit the beaches at Okinawa way before his 19th birthday. By the time they were preparing for the Invasion of Japan, Robert Earl was a Buck Sargent, with a platoon in his care, and not yet 19 years old.

These men were great heroes, flawed as humans as we all are, but determined to win the peace for their families, their nation that they loved as if it was a gentle mother, a kind uncle.

For me, our soldiers, our patriots, those that give back to their communities are the real heroes.

Not the false symbols in today's POP America.

When we forget D-Day, Pearl Harbor, Inchon, the repulsion of the Tet Offensive, the successful Surge in Iraq, and, ultimately, then the Democrats' surrender of Iraq, we lose our nation in pieces, and then in large chunks.

When the He/She Caitlyn Jenner is today's great hero, rather than observing the victory of Operation Overlord, as we witness now in POP America, some may make the argument that we have lost our nation ... for now at least ... until our patriots take it back.
( June 8th, 2015 @ 12:12 pm )
Would it be possible we could ever raise a generation without any of them having to go to war, my friends???
( June 8th, 2015 @ 11:32 am )
Very well done, Stan. These heroes were our fathers, uncles and grandfathers. Those who survived this and all the other battles to preserve freedom came home to resume lives in our communities and, for my generation, were our teachers and role models. I have learned so much from the members of the Greatest Generation. Unfortunately, we are losing them at a rapid rate…and we will not see their equal when they pass. God bless them all, and God bless America!
( June 6th, 2015 @ 6:48 am )
I wrote this as a response to civilians asking what it was like to ride a chopper into a battle zone. It may be similar to what those heroes of D-Day experienced in a much more destructive war when it was certain that they were stepping into hell.

"There is an eerie calm that descends on young men when they wait for the disembark order. In just a few seconds, you will meet either your maker or your enemy. You are highly trained, well practiced, fully supplied, and motivated. There is no noise among the brothers to your right or left. They like you are lost in their thoughts of home, girlfriends, or whatever. I would be tempted to say that there is loneliness in the crowd, but that would not be accurate. There is a lifetime ahead if you are lucky to be lonely. There is only a sense of purpose and one final equipment check, and then they flip the switch. It is similar to stepping from total darkness into bright sunlight or stepping in to total darkness from bright sunlight. All the planning and preparation give way and you are dependent on a few eighteen to twenty year olds who you may not ever have liked in civilian life but today you put your hands in their hands and vice a versa. Here you meet your destiny. The only reward for this is that you will survive to do it all over again.
God bless those souls both living and dead for their willingness to partake in perhaps the highest game of chance with the highest stakes. If you lose, the consolation prize is a white stone barely one foot by one foot. They all look alike with the exception of a few words but they each have a story and a dream ended short of completion. As I write this, seventy one years ago the time is 11:48AM on the beaches and the outcome is unclear but the die is cast and they must persevere."
( June 6th, 2015 @ 5:15 am )
What a great way, Stan, to start a special weekend! May we BOTH seek to meet in the middle and continue to appreciate one another as I do you, my friend.
( June 6th, 2015 @ 4:58 am )
'What do you know?' We have something that we agree on.
( June 6th, 2015 @ 4:52 am )
The complexity of that day boggles the mind. "The Longest Day" movie is about as close a depiction as could be put on film. I am glad The History Channel is putting together newly discovered archival film and some of it is in color.

What impressed me most about D-Day was the American ability to innovate when plans were not working and men were dying. The Germans were a top-down command structure so constraining their troops that they could not change quickly and, therefore, lost the battle.

By the Grace of God we succeeded on that day. To have failed meant German horrors and intrusion on other nations could have led them to the shores of the US. According to all the public comments by the German leadership that day, they won.
( June 7th, 2011 @ 8:09 am )
Thank you for this poignant message about a day that should never be forgotten.

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