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On this day in 1944, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the go ahead for the largest amphibious military operation in history: Operation Overlord, code named D-Day, the Allied invasion of northern France.


By daybreak, 18,000 British and American parachutists were already on the ground. At 6:30 a.m., American troops came ashore at Utah and Omaha beaches. At Omaha, the U.S. First Division battled high seas, mist, mines, burning vehicles and German coastal batteries, including an elite infantry division, which spewed heavy fire. Many wounded Americans ultimately drowned in the high tide. British divisions, which landed at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, and Canadian troops also met with heavy German fire, but by the end of the day they were able to push inland.


Despite the German resistance, Allied casualties overall were relatively light. The United States and Britain each lost about 1,000 men, and Canada 355. Before the day was over, 155,000 Allied troops would be in Normandy. However, the United States managed to get only half of the 14,000 vehicles and a quarter of the 14,500 tons of supplies they intended on shore.


Three factors were decisive in the success of the Allied invasion. First, German counterattacks were firm but sparse, enabling the Allies to create a broad bridgehead, or advanced position, from which they were able to build up enormous troop strength. Second, Allied air cover, which destroyed bridges over the Seine, forced the Germans to suffer long detours, and naval gunfire proved decisive in protecting the invasion troops. And third, division and confusion within the German ranks as to where the invasion would start and how best to defend their position helped the Allies. (Hitler, convinced another invasion was coming the next day east of the Seine River, refused to allow reserves to be pulled from that area.)


Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, commander of Britain's Twenty first Army Group (but under the overall command of General Eisenhower, for whom Montgomery, and his ego, proved a perennial thorn in the side), often claimed later that the invasion had come off exactly as planned. That was a boast, as evidenced by the failure to take Caen on the first day, as scheduled. While the operation was a decided success, considering the number of troops put ashore and light casualties, improvisation by courageous and quick witted commanders also played an enormous role.
 

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Thank God for the men of that generation. Because of them we do not speak German today.

On the other hand......

Shame on the younger generations. Because of them we have the president that we have today.
 

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As I sat on the couch last nite I watched a few hours of videos on D-Day.
Watching these 20ish yr old men made me sit in awe of what they had to be thinking of in the seconds before they had to jump off of the boats and walk ashore into a hail of gunfire.
I thought of how much courage it took to fight for the freedom of another country, and for so many of those young men, they made the ultimate sacrifice.
I thought about the families back home who would sit and wait, not knowing if their loved ones were alive,injured or dead. How it must have felt when the Western Union letter showed up by carrier at the front door with the news that their son or husband had given his life for the freedom of strangers.
They have been called "The Greatest Generation" and on this day I hope all of us take a moment to reflect on what the world would be like today if these young boys,who became men, hadn't given everything they had to let freedom prevail...
 

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Amen, brother.
 

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Jumping is easy. Landing is hard. Especially for a 93 yo.
 
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The Greatest Generation!!!

I stand in awe of the men of that generation. They saved the world for liberty and freedom. In my lifetime, I have been privileged to know three such men:

-My father, who signed up for the Army Air Corps two days after Pearl Harbor. He repeatedly requested combat duty in the European theater and he was denied. It seem that the Air Corps though him training B-17 pilots was more important the personal ambitions!! So for the duration, he trained bomber pilots, hundreds of them. Lord knows how many bomber sorties my father was indirectly responsible for!!! He remained in the service after the war, retiring a Brigadier General in 1970.

-My father-in-law, was a "Naval Aviator" (they get pissed if you call them pilots!). The Navy physical requirements for flight training were that the cadet had to be at least 5' 6" (he was 5' 6 1/2") and weigh at least 110 lbs (he ate bananas and drank milk shakes for two weeks before his physical and weighed in at 110 1/4 lbs). He went through basic flight training flying the AT-6 Texan and then transitioned to the TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber and learned carrier operations. He flew many missions in the South Pacific, flying off the light (escort) carrier U.S.S. San Jacinto, CVL-30. These included the Marianas Turkey Shoot (where in one day, American Naval Aviators shot down over 600 Japanese planes) and missions supporting the invasions of Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. One of his squadron mates became somewhat famous after the war.......Lt George H. W. Bush!!!

The 50th reunion of the San Jacinto's torpedo squadron was to be held at Pensacola Naval Air Station, in Florida, where the squadron was created. Invitations were sent and RSVPS were received. Two weeks later, new invitations were issued. These proudly stated that: "For security reasons, the location of the reunion has be changed to Andrews Air Force Base, outside Washington DC. The President of the United States will be attending"!!


-Last of all, while I attended college, I worked part time in a home improvement center/lumber yard in South Florida. The manager of the lumber department was a gruff old guy named Harold Wheeler. He had a few tattoos on his forearms, in particular a pair of anchors. It seems that Mr. Wheeler was a gunners mate aboard the battleship U.S.S. Nevada, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor!!! He held the young men that worked for him entranced when he told stories of fighting off the attacking Japanese planes with whatever weapons they could get ammunition to. The Nevada was the only battleship to get under way during the attack. However, it was so badly damaged by bombs and torpedoes that the captain ordered her run aground, so that his ship would not sink and block the main shipping channel in Pearl Harbor. She was recovered, re-fitted and sent back to sea to help avenge Pearl Harbor. Gunners Mate Harold Wheeler served aboard for the duration of the war.

I thank all of the members of the Greatest Generation, but I am extremely proud to have known these three men. Each was a hell of a man!!!
 
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