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In three days we will commemorate the 78th anniversary of D-Day, June 6,1944, the greatest amphibious assault ever attempted. While ALL military operations are dangerous and heroic, landings such as these are < to me, the most extreme example of placing one’s country ahead of one’s self. The soldiers that day came from all the Allied forces. The beaches were Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah, and (the bloodiest of all) Omaha. The Germans had fortified the entire French coast with their Atlantic Wall. Over 150,000 soldiers landed that day facing withering fire. Within five days, 326,000 Allied troops had landed.
The estimates for expected casualties were horrific. (Eisenhower had even penned a letter (thankfully never needed) which in the event the invasion failed said “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone”).
The landings on Omaha beach were the worst, and were the basis for the early scenes in the film Saving
Private Ryan. Back in 2017, I posted the below article telling the story of one company in the first boats in the first wave. As we remember the men and women who took part that day, let us thank those cut down in their youth that the rest of us in the free world could remain free.
June 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm #56745
It was 73 years ago today that hundreds of thousands of young men (boys really) climbed down
the cargo nets into the landing craft and sallied forth to the beaches of Normandy to begin the
liberation of Europe. Names previous unknown-Utah, Gold, Juno, Sword, bloody Omaha,
Pointe-du-Hoc, St Lo – became bloody battlefields and later shrines to the memory of those who
made the ultimate a sacrifice at the prime of their lives that others might be free. I feel a lump in
my throats and the burning of tears as I contemplate what those young men might have
accomplished in life had they not been cut short that day. And the heart wrenching pain of the
families back home as they were notified that their sons, husbands, and fathers would not be
coming home (and also the wives and daughters as there were nurses that perished as well).
One of the hardest hit communities was here in Virginia. “The Boys of Bedford” Companh A of
the 116th Regiment of the 29th Onfantry were on some of the first boats on the first wave to hit
Omaha Beach that windswept gray Morning. 35 young men from a town of 3000 people began
their war that day-19 died in the first five minutes! And 3 more during the battling through the
bocage hedgerows of Normandy. 22 men from one small town made the ultimate sacrifice ( and
overall of the 230 men in the company, only 18 men were unhurt by the end of the day.
22 deaths from one small town of 3000-about one of every 135 people. That would be
comparable to my local county of 300,000 people losing over 2200! Bedford is now the home of
the National D-Day museum and well worth a visit if you get a chance.
You can read more about the Boys of Bedford by googling that name. I’ll finish this post with
two things. The first is a quote from the movie “the Bridges of Toko-aria” that paraphrased the
thoughts of myself and many others- “Where so we get such men?•. The other will follow my
sign off below-a poem written by the surviving twin brother of one of the 22 men who died in
In loving memory of those we lost then and in all the wars,
Twin brother farewell
I’ll never forget that morning
It was the sixth of June
I said farewell to brother
Didn’t think it would be so soon
I had prayed for our future
That wonderful place called home
But a sinners prayer wasn’t answered
Now I’ll have to go home alone
Oh brother I think of you
All through the sleepless night
Dear Lord, he took you from me
And I can’t believe it was right
This world is so unfriendly
To kill now is a sin
To walk that long narrow road
It can’t be done without him
Dear Mother, I know your worries
This is an awful fight
To lose my only twin brother
And suffer the rest of my life
Now fellows take my warning
Believe it from start to end
If you ever have a twin brother
Don’t go to the battle with him
(This poem now rests on the walls of Roy Stevens’ Bedford home)
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