“The evening of June 5th, the harbor came alive. I could see one ship signaling to the other that this was it. We would hit the beach the next morning at 6:30 a.m., June 6, 1944, to be called “D-Day.”
Those are the words of Harold Baumgarten, then a 19-year-old infantryman from Bronx, N.Y. when he stormed the beach at Normandy.
This from Joseph Dragotto, a member of the first wave of the invasion: “When we hit the beach, I knelt down and kissed the dirt, whispered ‘Thank you God.’ I then looked around and saw many dead in the water and on the beach. My company was being held up by machine gun fire from the hill then Col. Peynold, regimental commander, said, ‘If we have to die, let’s die on the hill.’ We moved on and took the hill, and gave the Allies a foothold in France.”
Each of them carried nearly 100 pounds in supplies and weaponry as they slipped into the frigid waters of the English Channel to face the Germans machine guns, 88-millimeter shells and sandbars booby-trapped with barbed wire.
General Dwight Eisenhower said of the day: “We will accept nothing less than full victory.”
With over 5,000 ships, 13,000 supporting aircraft and 100,000 troops, victory was had. It would become the shift of the tide for World War II.
More than 9,000 soldiers were killed that day, almost 70 years ago. Take a moment to visit www.army.mil/d-day to see news articles, photos and hear a spoken account from those who were there. Take a moment to remember.