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First Wave At Omaha Beach
The Atlantic Monthly ^ | N O V E M B E R 1 9 6 0 | S.L.A. Marshall

Posted on 06/06/2002 7:25:18 AM PDT by g'nad

Edited on 06/07/2005 12:19:13 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

When he was promoted to officer rank at eighteen, S. L. A. MARSHALL was the youngest shavetail in the United States Army during World War I. He rejoined the Army in 1942, became a combat historian with the rank of colonel; and the notes he made at the time of the Normandy landing are the source of this heroic reminder. Readers will remember his frank and ennobling book about Korea, THE RIVER AND THE GAUNTLET, which was the result of still a third tour of duty.


(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Free Republic
KEYWORDS: ddayomahabeach; historylist
Where do we get such men?...
1 posted on 06/06/2002 7:25:19 AM PDT by g'nad
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To: g'nad
The 29th division was the first to hit the beach and they were a NATIONAL GUARD unit.
2 posted on 06/06/2002 7:37:41 AM PDT by 2banana
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To: g'nad
Where do we get such men?...

From the History books. Few and far between today.

3 posted on 06/06/2002 7:38:30 AM PDT by TomServo
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To: TomServo
I am wondering why I haven't heard anything on the TV Channels about D Day...............Is it now politically incorrect to mention that heroic invasion?
4 posted on 06/06/2002 7:52:22 AM PDT by Uff Da
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To: g'nad
a bump for the finest
5 posted on 06/06/2002 7:58:21 AM PDT by ThePythonicCow
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To: 2banana
My moms cousin Joe landed in a later wave and missed the early carnage.

He was killed by a female sniper in house-to-house fighting on the penninsula.

This information was given to his father by a GI who was with him at the time.

6 posted on 06/06/2002 8:03:07 AM PDT by johnny7
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To: 2banana
I am proud to say my Dad was in the 29th and he served his Unit and Country proud that day. He and I talked about that D-Day only once and then not until I returned from Vietnam. On some occasions he would laugh about when he was wounded in other areas of his campaign but he never wanted to talk about June 6 but the one time.
7 posted on 06/06/2002 8:19:15 AM PDT by cav68
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To: g'nad

8 posted on 06/06/2002 8:22:12 AM PDT by Joe Brower
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To: g'nad
Where do we get such men?...

That's the line that always comes into my mind when I read/hear of these events.

I know the line as spoken by the commander (played by Frederich March?) in the film
The Bridges At Toko-Ri; is it actually from some original source?
9 posted on 06/06/2002 8:22:44 AM PDT by VOA
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To: VOA
is it actually from some original source?

I dunno, but it seems pretty damn appropriate...

10 posted on 06/06/2002 8:25:03 AM PDT by g'nad
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To: psyop
Great article, I think you'll find some quotes you can use...
11 posted on 06/06/2002 8:36:17 AM PDT by g'nad
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To: g'nad
THANKS to S.L.A. Marshall and g'nad for such great reading material. The American soldier/airman/sailor/marine is the guarantor of our liberties. God bless them.
12 posted on 06/06/2002 8:44:36 AM PDT by RicocheT
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To: g'nad
My brother-in-law was a Lt. in the first wave (I forget the division--it was prominent in The Longest Day). Just before the ramp came down, the Capt. told him to get to the back of the boat and make sure all the men got out. The Capt. was killed along with a great many of the men immediately by machine gun fire. My BIL survived the carnage, the Battle of the Bulge and capture by the Germans. Came out a Major and was highly decorated (when he came back from the war, the NY Times even had a picture of him getting off the plane).

On June 6, 1994 (50th Anniversary) I sent him a big flower arrangement in commemoration of his buddies that still lie there.

13 posted on 06/06/2002 8:55:15 AM PDT by Pharmboy
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To: g'nad; johnny7
Where do we get such men?...

I don't know, but my uncle was one of them too.

My uncle was in the 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One, which was among those in the first wave, and he survived (in fact he lived for 50 more years). They fought their way up the hills there, through the town, and all the way to Paris, where they were among the first soldiers to march through Paris, when it was liberated.

Then they fought their way through Belgium, and marched into Liege when it was liberated. There was also a famous battle at a bridge though I'm not sure which one. Then they liberated a concentration camp in Germany (I'm trying to find out which one though I think it could have been Dachau from what I'm reading, but still not sure). But they were so appalled when they opened up that camp, that after capturing the guards, they marched back into the village nearby and forced the villagers at gunpoint to go into the camp to see what was going on near where they were living.

He said later that up to that point he had been feeling conflicted about shooting at the Germans, as he was himself a 2nd generation German-American (his grandparents had emigrated at least 80 years before) and was worried that he had been shooting at cousins. But after that camp experience, he no longer cared about that, and no longer felt German in any way. He felt American.

My uncle would almost never talk about it, though my sister was able to get only a small amount out of him. And some I've learned just by reading about the history of the Big Red One. He died just a few years ago.

14 posted on 06/06/2002 8:58:02 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: Pharmboy
On June 6, 1994 (50th Anniversary) I sent him a big flower arrangement in commemoration of his buddies that still lie there.

Wish I could have done the same for my uncle, he died just a year before that anniversary.

15 posted on 06/06/2002 9:01:15 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: g'nad
Here's an interesting website about the First with some quotes from it. (And I see I'm wrong about the march through Paris! They didn't make that one.)

1st Infantry Division

On D-Day, June 6,1944, the Big Red One stormed ashore at Omaha Beach. Soon after H-Hour, the Division's 16th Regiment was fighting for its life on a strip of beach near Coleville-sur-Mer that had been marked the "Easy Red" on battle maps. Within two hours, the decimated unit huddled behind the seawall. The beach was so congested with the dead and dying, there was no room to land reinforcements. Col. George Taylor, commander of the 16th Infantry Regt., told his men, "Two kinds of people are staying on this beach! The dead and those who are going to die! Now, let's get the hell out of here!" Slowly, the move inland got underway.

A German blockhouse above the beach became a command post named "Danger Forward."

The Division moved through the Normandy Hedgerows. The Division liberated Liege, Belgium, and pushed to the German border, crossing through the fortified Siegfried line. The 1st Inf. Div. attacked the first major German city, Aachen, and after days of bitter fighting, the German commander surrendered the city on Oct. 21, 1944.

The Division continued its push into Germany, crossing the Rhine River. On Dec. 16, 24 enemy divisions, 10 of which were armored, launched a massive counterattack in the Ardennes sector, resulting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. On Jan. 15, 1945, the First Infantry attacked and penetrated the Siegfried line for the second time and occupied the Remagen bridgehead. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, the Division marched 150 miles to the east of Siegen. On April 8, the Division crossed the Weser river into Czechoslovakia. The war was over May 8, 1945.

At the end of World War II, the Division had suffered 21,023 casualties and 43,743 men had served in its ranks. Its soldiers had won a total of 20,752 medals and awards, including 16 Congressional Medals of Honor. Over 100,000 prisoners had been taken.

Following the war, the First Division remained in Germany as occupation troops, until 1955, when the Division moved to Fort Riley, Kan.

16 posted on 06/06/2002 9:04:22 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: cav68
He and I talked about that D-Day only once and then not until I returned from Vietnam.

My dad served on the USS Maryland in the Pacific and it was the same here. He never talked to me about it until I got back from Viet Nam. Some of the things he told me were pretty horrific, guess he figured I could handle it then. Too bad he is gone now I would like to talk to him some more about it.

17 posted on 06/06/2002 9:04:32 AM PDT by ladtx
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To: g'nad
May we never forget!


18 posted on 06/06/2002 9:05:43 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: g'nad
I read about the men who landed there. When asked if they were heroes, they responded, "No, but I served with heroes."
19 posted on 06/06/2002 9:05:49 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
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To: *History_list
Bump list
20 posted on 06/06/2002 9:07:32 AM PDT by Free the USA
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To: g'nad
Where do we get such men?...

Look around you. They are everywhere, just waiting for leadership. They are just ordinary men who muster the courage to do an extraordinary job.

21 posted on 06/06/2002 9:09:04 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
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To: TomServo
>>Few and far between today<<

Of course that is true. When I look at my son and his High School buddies, I think, "How could these kids ever take Omaha"?

But do remember-in 1938, when the blond beasts of the SS were marching into Vienna in triumph, in 1939, when they overran Poland, in 1940, when Paris fell, our Army was tiny. The future heroes of Omaha Beach were schoolkids, grocery clerks, farmhands, and a few college boys. Among them, there were surely more than a few typical American goofballs. No one who could have, by magic, seen the boys of Baker Company together in 1939 at home would have picked them over the Wehrmacht.

America is stronger than you think. It's stronger than I think.

And it's way, way stronger than the Muslim hordes can even effin' imagine.

22 posted on 06/06/2002 9:10:01 AM PDT by Jim Noble
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To: Blood of Tyrants
When asked if they were heroes, they responded, "No, but I served with heroes."

It's left for us to call them all heroes.

23 posted on 06/06/2002 9:11:05 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: Jim Noble
America is stronger than you think. It's stronger than I think.

And it's way, way stronger than the Muslim hordes can even effin' imagine.

So true, so true. And when people complain that this country is failing, and will soon fall, I say our best days are ahead. And truly believe that.

24 posted on 06/06/2002 9:14:07 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: texasbluebell
Sorry to hear that he passed before the 50th. I'm sure he knew you always appreciated his outstanding heroism and service to this great country. Just consider the flowers I sent to my brother-in-law Mike to cover your uncle as well.

GBA.

25 posted on 06/06/2002 9:14:28 AM PDT by Pharmboy
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To: texasbluebell
>>My uncle would almost never talk about it<<

I'm a doctor, it's been my good fortune over the past 30 years to have a few European Theater vets as patients.

A few years ago, a man was admitted to my service for abdominal pain. No complaints, no calls to the nurses, told every student doctor, "Oh, it's nothing".

When I saw him, he was obviously suffering a lot.

My first question to him, "You were in the Army, weren't you?" Answer: "Yes".

Second question, "Were you in combat in Europe or the Pacific?" Answer: "Europe"

Third question, "Why didn't you tell the nurses or doctors how much pain you were having?" Answer: "Infantrymen only talk to infantrymen."

26 posted on 06/06/2002 9:16:41 AM PDT by Jim Noble
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To: Jim Noble;TomServo;Blood of Tyrants
And it's way, way stronger than the Muslim hordes can even effin' imagine.

Damn straight, brother!

When I said "Where do we get such men?", I wasn't bemoaning the current generation... I was marvelling at the resourcefullness, determination, and bravery of the American spirit in times of crisis. I've lead men in combat...men who in other times would have been labeled "goofball" or "loser"...all performed magnificently under fire or when it mattered...I never cease to be amazed at the courage, endurance, and tenacity of the American fighting man...

27 posted on 06/06/2002 9:24:48 AM PDT by g'nad
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To: Jim Noble
Answer: "Infantrymen only talk to infantrymen."

And it sounds like so many who just would not complain, doesn't it? No whining, no moaning, just quiet suffering.

28 posted on 06/06/2002 9:31:50 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: Pharmboy
Just consider the flowers I sent to my brother-in-law Mike to cover your uncle as well.

Thank you! That brings a tear to my eye.

29 posted on 06/06/2002 9:33:43 AM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: g'nad
"Watching him made men of us."

Ah, the eloquence.

30 posted on 06/06/2002 9:35:10 AM PDT by Taliesan
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To: johnny7
I have and uncle who was one of "Merrill's Maruaders".
31 posted on 06/06/2002 9:57:26 AM PDT by LetsRok
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To: g'nad
Bump!!!!!!!!!! Thanks..........a GOOD read. God bless those men.

My dad (who died three years ago) was in the Pacific Theater on a mine sweeper clearing the approaches to the beaches for "island-hopping".

32 posted on 06/06/2002 10:07:42 AM PDT by DoctorMichael
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To: DoctorMichael
One has to wonder if Ike had allowed 8th Air Force to bomb the landing zone area from 1AM to 5AM...if all these lives would have been lost. The surprise would have still existed and the Germans could not have brought in more troops in just four hours. So many of these bunkers would have been destroyed and the threat neutralized. But I guess being a armchair coach doesn't help in this situation. We are where we are....and we walked boldly upon the beaches. No German say otherwise.
33 posted on 06/06/2002 10:34:26 AM PDT by pepsionice
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To: Jim Noble
But do remember-in 1938, when the blond beasts of the SS were marching into Vienna in triumph, in 1939, when they overran Poland, in 1940, when Paris fell, our Army was tiny. The future heroes of Omaha Beach were schoolkids, grocery clerks, farmhands, and a few college boys. Among them, there were surely more than a few typical American goofballs. No one who could have, by magic, seen the boys of Baker Company together in 1939 at home would have picked them over the Wehrmacht.

That is exactly right. The Nazi's fully believed that their Hitler youth would best our Boy Scouts, who were percieved to be soft. But along the way the Everyman defeated the Superman.

34 posted on 06/06/2002 10:50:29 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: g'nad
A nice tribute. My father was with the 79th Infantry in the second wave at Utah Beach. While not quite the meatgrinder of Omaha Beach, there evidently were quite a few casualities there as well. Dad wouldn't talk about it either, until one day when I guess he thought I was ready to hear it, and then only said, in response to my queries about what it was like and what he saw there, that is was just nothing but "debris and bodies". I am not and never will be the man he was in terms of courage and honesty and sense of duty to country and family, but I will keep him in my heart and honor his memory, and that of those like him.
35 posted on 06/06/2002 11:13:27 AM PDT by chimera
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To: chimera
Well said!
36 posted on 06/06/2002 11:29:49 AM PDT by donozark
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To: g'nad
Outstanding piece. I've read many accounts of that written by everyone from Ryan to Stephans. None of them came close to that description. Thanks for the ping
37 posted on 06/06/2002 12:11:10 PM PDT by PsyOp
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To: KC_Conspirator
...But along the way the Everyman defeated the Superman.

A nice summation. I recall another account of the overall effort in the ETO which described the impression of the American soldiers from the German perspective. In prior wars and battles, the Germans had faced the French, who went into battle singing. They had faced the English, who charged into battle cheering as if at a soccer match. The Americans did none of this, they just fought, took their lumps, and won out. The Germans didn't quite know what to make of this grim, silent, determined fighting man, other than to respect him in the end for his determination, in the face of mounting casualities in many battles, to obey his orders and do what was necessary to achieve his aims.

38 posted on 06/06/2002 12:24:22 PM PDT by chimera
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To: johnny7
French Sympethiser?
39 posted on 06/06/2002 1:04:13 PM PDT by Dead Dog
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Comment #40 Removed by Moderator

To: chimera
My father was with the 79th Infantry in the second wave at Utah Beach. While not quite the meatgrinder of Omaha Beach, there evidently were quite a few casualities there as well.

I'm sure it was bad enough there. A photo from Utah Beach. Other photos of the day at this link

The Normandy Invasion

SC 190366 Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to other members of their organization whose landing craft was sunk by enemy action off the coast of France. These survivors reached Utah Beach, near Cherbourg, by using a life raft. Photographer: Weintraub, 6 June 1944

41 posted on 06/06/2002 2:33:22 PM PDT by texasbluebell
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To: g'nad
"They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we shall remember them."
42 posted on 06/06/2002 2:51:35 PM PDT by voiceofreason4344
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To: all
Late nite vanity BUMP!
43 posted on 06/06/2002 6:12:01 PM PDT by g'nad
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To: g'nad
God Bless our fathers!
44 posted on 06/06/2002 7:35:17 PM PDT by RaceBannon
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To: RaceBannon
God, please bless all of them and our troops in Afganistan Question that has bothered me for 35 years.....Why wasn`t there more naval gunfire during the invasion and how many fighter planes were supporting the troops? By 1944, the "west coast" Navy and Marine Corps had figured that out. Comments please
45 posted on 06/07/2002 1:05:55 AM PDT by bybybill
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To: RaceBannon
Semper Fi bump!
46 posted on 06/07/2002 4:37:38 AM PDT by Coop
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To: bybybill
no idea!! I guess the surprise factor meant too much, but at least firebomb the place 2 hours before or something...
47 posted on 06/07/2002 6:49:22 AM PDT by RaceBannon
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To: Coop

BUMPING!


48 posted on 06/06/2004 10:55:15 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy

The Initial Assault Wave
Ninety-six tanks, the Special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry (1,450 men), landing just before and after 0630, were to carry out the first assault missions (Map No. V).

On the right, the 743d Tank Battalion brought in all its tanks on LCT’s. Company B, coming in directly in face of the Vierville draw, suffered from enemy artillery fire. The LCT carrying the company commander was sunk just of shore, and four other officers were killed or wounded, leaving one lieutenant in Company B. Eight of that company’s 16 tanks landed and started to fire from the water’s edge on enemy positions. The tanks of Companies C and A touched down to the east at well-spaced intervals and without initial losses. In the 16th RCT one, only 5 of the 32 DD tanks (741st Tank Battalion) made shore; of Company A’s 16 standard tanks, 2 were lost far off shore by an explosion of undetermined cause, and 3 were hit and put out of action very shortly after beaching. The surviving third of the battalion landed between E-1 and E-3 draws and went into action at once against enemy emplacements.

The Army-Navy Special Engineer Task Force had one of the most important and difficult missions of the landing. Their chances of clearing gaps through the obstacles in the half-hour allotted were lessened by accidents on the approach to the beach. Delays in loading from LCT’s to LCM’s and in finding their way to the beaches resulted in half of the 16 assault teams reaching shore 10 minutes or more late. Only five team hit their appointed sector, most of them being carried eastward with the result that Dog Beach (the 116th RCT one) received much less than the effort scheduled. As a further effect of mislandings, at least three teams came in where no infantry or tanks were present to give protective fire.


49 posted on 05/25/2009 1:10:30 PM PDT by Phaser54
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