Saturday, June 6, 2015

Seventy-One Years Ago

Large landing craft convoy crosses the English Channel on 6 June 1944.
(US Coast Guard Photo)
From now until the end of time I will not be able to understand how they did it.

Charging off of a landing craft, onto a beach, under machine gun, rifle and artillery fire. No cover. No time to get one's bearings. No time to even think.

Moving forward, under heavy fire. They eventually prevailed.

But the price was high.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
By Taueres - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
(Source)

I thank my God for those who went before.

Those who paid for my freedom.

I will remember them always.

And forever.

After the break is the beginning of the beach scene from Saving Private Ryan. I first saw this film in the Netherlands, in a theater full of GIs, active duty and retired. There were very few dependents that night.

It was a very quiet and thoughtful crowd leaving the theater after the final credits had rolled.

Warning, this film clip is not for the squeamish.




I am in awe of the men who went in that day. I always will be.

44 comments:

  1. why is nothing ever said about the stonewall brigade the first wave at Omaha? ive always thought its an anti southern thing they don't want to give us any credit.my uncle joe was wounded at Omaha his grand father fouht for stonewall Jackson I still honer him one of my heros your friend truckwilkins

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    1. I think the problem is that many people just don't associate the Bedford Boys and the 29th ID with the Stonewall Brigade. Of course, part of that is because most people seem to get their history from TV and the movies.

      Those men from Bedford and the other GIs that landed that day will always be remembered and honored. A good article is here and there have been books written about those men from Virginia.

      Anyone who knows anything about American history knows that the great state of Virginia has provided thousands of fighting soldiers since the Revolution. Some of them wore butternut and gray, no dishonor there.

      If you ever see any anti-Southern bias here Mr. Wilkins, let me know and I'll fix it. I don't want to slight any American, no matter where they're from, who did their duty as they saw it.

      Your Uncle Joe and your Grandfather were heroes to many. I honor their memories.

      Thanks for stopping by, Mr. Wilkins.

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  2. The "Stonewall Brigade" formed part of the 29th Infantry Division at Omaha Beach (and still does, the 29th is part of the Virginia National Guard). If you find yourself near Bedford, Virginia (where a good number of the 29th came from) visit the National D Day Memorial. It's worth it. The Brigade lives on.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in Cap'n, good information.

      I've got a draft post lurking somewhere about the Stonewall Brigade, I think I need to dust that off, finish it and publish it. An excellent fighting unit.

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    2. Captain Steve/

      Didn't they just dedicate a new memorial/sculpture wall to them a couple of years ago? IIRC it was very impressive.

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    3. I've seen some photos of a memorial to the Bedford Boys, I think I have a post that needs to be updated and published.

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    4. One of my most cherished memories is the day I took my Father and Uncle to Bedford. Daddy went ashore at Normandy at D+3/4 as a medic for the 120th Infantry, 30th ID Old Hickory Division made up mostly of National Guard units from North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. He and his "Band of Brothers' met every summer until the remaining few were just too old to travel. For his unit a lot were boys from the surrounding area where he grew up. He would met with them thru the year at the VFW, which the state alcohol rules allowed them to have 'the hard stuff' to drink. AS I've stated may times I DO NOT pass one of these WWII vets pass without thinking them I ran into one at Balboa Naval Hospital on Wednesday. (That day I was surrounded by him, a Vietnam, Desert Storm, and for sure the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.) A quiet unassuming man, my Dad just did what his country needed him to do, came home and lived his life as best he could, providing for his family to have a good life. These WWII vets were, and are, heroes ever one.

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    5. VX--oh wait, that's a particularly nasty chemical weapon ;- 0 --starting over, Virgil X: Yes they did, and yes it is. Bonus: It's in one of the prettiest areas of the Old Dominion.

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    6. I need to get back to Virginia to see that.

      Soon.

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    7. Some people think Southern hospitality is just a saying, has no meaning.

      I'm not one of them.

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  3. Al Vella was a Normandy invasion Combat Engineer I met in Brighton, CO. If you remember the scene in "The Longest Day" where the engineers blow a gap in a seawall, that was Al's unit. His unit evolved into the engineer company I served in Germany circa 1965. Al passed last year. I'm grateful I got to know him.

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    1. Those men who landed that day are passing from the scene. A man who was 17 that day would be 88 now.

      I was honored to have known a few WWII vets, three in my own family. We should treasure the memories of men like Al Vella and remember them always.

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  4. Given this era of PC attempts to insist women are fully equal to men in combat units I would suggest everyone visualize an all-female effort to scale the cliffs at Point du Hoc under heavy fire, successfully engage in heavy hand-to-hand combat with the Germans and then get back to me on the advisability of this PC concept.

    Signed: Sexist Pig..

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    1. Hell, why limit the scenario to Point du Hoc? How about an all-female invasion force? (In for a dime in for a dollar..)

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    2. Anyone who claims that is a bit of a fool, right? Of course, we knew that.

      There's a lot of men who couldn't have done what those Rangers did that day.

      The goal of the PC crowd confuses me, is it to destroy our civilization? Or are they just abysmally stupid? I'm betting it's a combination of the two.

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    3. Anybody wanna volunteer to jump into Mr Peabody's Wayback Machine (were it possible) to test out the feminist PC concept proffered by our intellectual betters with Western Civilization on the line?

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    4. Oh, one more thing, Virgil. I'm betting you're an old school gentleman, holds doors open for ladies, believes in "ladies first," things like that.

      That's not sexist. On the one hand you're a realist, on the other you have manners. Just being old school I'll bet.

      Signed: A Fellow Dinosaur

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    5. Intellectual betters? - where?

      Oh, those that claim to be smart but in reality are not.

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    6. @Sarge/

      BOTH!!! Sarge, you get the cupie doll, We got a WINNAH!!! :)

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    7. "...holds doors open for ladies..."

      With the younger crowd these days you can be sure that no good deed 'ere goes long UNPUNISHED as far as politeness & manners are concerned--a tip--stay FAR away from college campii... :)

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    8. You never disappoint us Virgil!

      :)

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  5. When I was doing pre-marital counseling as Pastor of Family Care, the hardest part of the "open the door for her" thing was to get the lady TO WAIT for the gent to do the deed. Nowadays I think that polite, door-opening men are considered to be "line cutters" just to get to the door first. Looking back at life it's fun to see some differences between the sexes. I wonder what the thumb-clicking crowd are going to reminisce about fifty years from now (aside, of course, OS 34.3.1)

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    1. I wonder at times, with some trepidation, what the future holds in store.

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  6. I agree with all the sentiments written of here.
    Here's a little posting from my blog that was written a couple of years ago.
    Be sure to check out the link to an article written in "The Atlantic" magazine . . . it'll humble you.
    http://jmawelsh.blogspot.com/2011/07/07-jun-09.html

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    1. . . . PS: it's a long read.

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    2. It is a good read.

      I think we all wonder how we'll behave, should the moment arise.

      To step off the landing craft (or out the door of a C-47) or spend the rest of our lives wondering...

      The men of D-Day don't have to wonder.

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  7. Actually, I'm over-generalizing, Sarge. Two vignettes from the late 90s during the "grunge" phase and beginnings of feminista lesbo action on college campii (LUGs--Lesbians Until Graduation.) a) one local neighborhood bar I frequented (in the era of age 18 drinking in Louisiana) had a frequent male student patron w. long hair and painted fingernails, the total "anti" everything" look, yet who was actually an ardent patriot who admired the military. b) one nite, in a late-nite session at another pub on St Charles, Ave, I engaged a group of feminista's in a "spirited" discussion which saw them finally leave in disgust declaring me a "NAZI." While my little "discussion" was going on I couldn't help but notice this mid 20s something guy standing in the hallway on way to back bathrooms leaning on the doorway taking it all in. He looked like your typical grunge type--long stringy hair, boots, black jeans, white shirt and black/gray "duster". "I don't know if you noticed, but I couldn't help but hear the conversation" he intoned after the feministas left (all dressed in de regurre frilly print flouncy printed skirts and Doc Martin boots) "You were really egging them on, weren't you?" he said. "You were really enjoying yourself." I allowed that this was largely true and no apologizes, to which he replied: "I agree with everything you said. What a bunch of witless air-heads." LOL! "Never judge a book by its cover."

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    1. Just so, Virgil. Once went into a local deli. In the parking lot, when I pulled in, were a Harley Hog and a Plymouth station wagon. Inside the store were two other customers . . . one was big, hairy, and wearing a leather vest. The other was slim, dressed in jeans, wearing one of those Lacoste polo shirts . . . moccasins too.
      Immediately I pegged the big, hairy guy for the Harley rider, and the other one for the family-friendly station wagon. I was wrong. The slim guy left the store and a moment later he rode off in a cloud of dust on that Hog. The big, hairy . . . bought some milk and eggs and drove away, sedately, in the wagon. There you have it.

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    2. I had a post (somewhere) about a long haired guy in Denver, treated a bunch of us new airmen to a good afternoon at a bar loaded with vets.

      Guy had hair down to his waist and an ID indicating that he had been a Marine Lieutenant, disabled IIRC.

      I try hard not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes I don't succeed, but it can be worth it.

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    3. Good stories Virgil and Snuffy.

      Ya never know!

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  8. Something else happened on this day albeit 60 years ago. Creeped me out to be wished happy birthday on Google.

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    1. No kidding.

      Happy Birthday Juvat!

      Now that I know...

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  9. For some reason the D-Day image that has always haunted me is of the Canadian soldiers falling on Juno Beach. Four hale and determined young men charge out of the surf; in the blink of an eye the one in the rear is dead, the third from the rear wounded. More than 2,700 Commonwealth troops -- mostly Canadian -- died on that beach that day. About the 1:02 mark https://youtu.be/z3AjcQZg_DM

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  10. I'll take an angry, militant lesbian over a whiny professional victim any day. And there's an overabundance of whiny pro-vic's in a certain sector of society which heretofore hasn't been known for whining.

    Bring on the lesbians!

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  11. thank you for the post.my uncle joe was quite a man after the war he worked for the phone company in Williamsburg back when the phone company owned the phone in your house he was still climbing poles in his sixtys.just a great man.i am a viet nam vet and four of my kids have served in these last two wars.thank god none of us was killed this time around.only one wounded all disabled to various degrees.lots of praying and late nite calls.your friend truckwilkins

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    1. Your's is an honorable family Mr. Wilkins. Praise God you all got home.

      I hope you read Sunday's post. It's about the Stonewall Brigade and the Bedford Boys.

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  12. They had the example of their fathers and uncles who went over the top in France again and again and again. They had nothing to prove but they had an example to live up to. Good men.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)