#MilitaryMonday

Military thank you

Military Monday is a weekly feature honoring the Military of the United States and its Allies.

1959, the ‪#US Navy‬ and the US Postal Service deliver the first official missile mail when USS Barbero (SS 317) fires a Regulus I missile with 3,000 letters 100 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla., to Mayport, Fla.

Letter carrier Noble Upperman places the first guided missile letters in his mail bag as other postal officials look on. Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield is to the right of Upperman holding the bag. The Regulus Missile fired from USS Barbero (SS-317) landed at Mayport, Florida. US Navy Photo Collection

Letter carrier Noble Upperman places the first guided missile letters in his mail bag as other postal officials look on. Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield is to the right of Upperman holding the bag. The Regulus Missile fired from USS Barbero (SS-317) landed at Mayport, Florida. US Navy Photo Collection

Reporters and photographers patiently wait the removal of the first Missile Mail from Regulus. The missile was fired from USS Barbero (SS-317) and landed Mayport, Florida. US Navy Photo Collection

Reporters and photographers patiently wait the removal of the first Missile Mail from Regulus. The missile was fired from USS Barbero (SS-317) and landed Mayport, Florida. US Navy Photo Collection

USS Barbero (SS 317) underway during the late 1950s with Regulus Missile. US Navy Photo Collection.

USS Barbero (SS 317) underway during the late 1950s with Regulus Missile. US Navy Photo Collection.

Philatelic Cover from USS Barbero (SS 317) commemorating the first Missile Mail. The missile was fired from USS Barbero (SS 317) and landed in Mayport, Florida. Courtesy of the National Postal Museum, Smithsonian.

Philatelic Cover from USS Barbero (SS 317) commemorating the first Missile Mail. The missile was fired from USS Barbero (SS 317) and landed in Mayport, Florida. Courtesy of the National Postal Museum, Smithsonian.

1944, the construction of artificial harbors and sheltered anchorages, also known as Mulberries, begins off the Normandy coast. The artificial harbors were required as the Germans continued to control port cities for the most of the remaining month.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. "Phoenix" caissons being emplaced as breakwaters for a "Mulberry" artificial harbor off the Normandy invasion beaches, 14 June 1944. Photograph credited to SHAEF-OSS. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. “Phoenix” caissons being emplaced as breakwaters for a “Mulberry” artificial harbor off the Normandy invasion beaches, 14 June 1944. Photograph credited to SHAEF-OSS.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The End of Mulberry "A" Dwight C. Shepler #161 Watercolor, 1944 88-199-FI Below the bluff of the Omaha beachhead, the twisted relic of the fabulous artificial harbor of Mulberry filled the sea. The row of concrete caissons paralleling the shore finally disintegrated on the third day of the great storm of June 19-22, 1944, letting the seas though to break up the floating piers.

The End of Mulberry “A”
Dwight C. Shepler #161
Watercolor, 1944
88-199-FI
Below the bluff of the Omaha beachhead, the twisted relic of the fabulous artificial harbor of Mulberry filled the sea. The row of concrete caissons paralleling the shore finally disintegrated on the third day of the great storm of June 19-22, 1944, letting the seas though to break up the floating piers.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. "SeaBee" mobile repair shop on a large pontoon, used to support the "Mulberry" artificial harbor off the Normandy beachhead in mid-1944. Note the "USS 'Can-Do'" emblem, tent, quonset hut, tattered U.S. Ensign and Jeep on the pontoon, plus crowd of shipping in the distance. Photograph was released for publication on 27 December 1944, in preparation for the "SeaBees" third anniversary onj 28 December. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. “SeaBee” mobile repair shop on a large pontoon, used to support the “Mulberry” artificial harbor off the Normandy beachhead in mid-1944. Note the “USS ‘Can-Do'” emblem, tent, quonset hut, tattered U.S. Ensign and Jeep on the pontoon, plus crowd of shipping in the distance. Photograph was released for publication on 27 December 1944, in preparation for the “SeaBees” third anniversary onj 28 December. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Mulberry at Work
Dwight C. Shepler #159
Watercolor, June 1944.

Worth noting: the Royal Navy’s constructors insisted that all planned fastenings and moorings be completed and tested before moving crgo. The SeaBees and their CEC engineering staff insisted the specs were way over-engineered and did enough to get cargo moving ashore. The storms of June 19 destroyed the Omaha Beach Mulberry, leaving the British one at Arromanches to take the load. The American Mulberry was destroyed and hundreds of ships and thousands of supplies sunk by fierce storms in a few weeks after D-Day. The British Mulberry was heavily damaged.

1944, the Allied forces land troops on Normandy beaches for the largest amphibious landing in history — Operation Overlord (D-Day) — beginning the march eastward to defeat Germany and ultimately destroy the Nazi regime on May 7, 1945.

Assault Wave Cox'n Dwight C. Shepler #141a Watercolor, 1944 88-199-EN The landing craft coxswain was the symbol and fiber of the amphibious force. Exposed to enemy fire as he steered his craft to shore, the lives of thirty-six infantrymen in his small LCVP were his responsibility. If he failed in his mission of landing these troops, the strategy of admirals went for naught; the bombardment of a naval force alone could never gain a foothold on the hostile and contested shore. Prairie boy or city lad, the coxswain became a paragon of courageous determination and seamanship.

Assault Wave Cox’n
Dwight C. Shepler #141a
Watercolor, 1944
88-199-EN
The landing craft coxswain was the symbol and fiber of the amphibious force. Exposed to enemy fire as he steered his craft to shore, the lives of thirty-six infantrymen in his small LCVP were his responsibility. If he failed in his mission of landing these troops, the strategy of admirals went for naught; the bombardment of a naval force alone could never gain a foothold on the hostile and contested shore. Prairie boy or city lad, the coxswain became a paragon of courageous determination and seamanship.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day", 6 June 1944. Note helmet netting; faint "No Smoking" sign on the LCVP's ramp; and M1903 rifles and M1 carbines carried by some of these men. This photograph was taken from the same LCVP as Photo # SC 189986. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching “Omaha” Beach on “D-Day”, 6 June 1944. Note helmet netting; faint “No Smoking” sign on the LCVP’s ramp; and M1903 rifles and M1 carbines carried by some of these men. This photograph was taken from the same LCVP as Photo # SC 189986. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

The Tough Beach Dwight C. Shepler #147 Watercolor, June 1944 88-199-EU This is what the Allied forces in Normandy called the Omaha beachhead. All day the landing waves suffered terrible attrition from the stubborn, enfilade German fire which raked the shore. A coast studded with beach and underwater obstacles, mines, and German fortified positions and pillboxes, it proved deadly to many American soldiers and sailors on June 6, 1944.

The Tough Beach
Dwight C. Shepler #147
Watercolor, June 1944
88-199-EU
This is what the Allied forces in Normandy called the Omaha beachhead. All day the landing waves suffered terrible attrition from the stubborn, enfilade German fire which raked the shore. A coast studded with beach and underwater obstacles, mines, and German fortified positions and pillboxes, it proved deadly to many American soldiers and sailors on June 6, 1944.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Landing ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944. Among identifiable ships present are USS LST-532 (in the center of the view); USS LST-262 (3rd LST from right); USS LST-310 (2nd LST from right); USS LST-533 (partially visible at far right); and USS LST-524. Note barrage balloons overhead and Army "half-track" convoy forming up on the beach. Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944. Landing ships putting cargo ashore on one of the invasion beaches, at low tide during the first days of the operation, June 1944. Among identifiable ships present are USS LST-532 (in the center of the view); USS LST-262 (3rd LST from right); USS LST-310 (2nd LST from right); USS LST-533 (partially visible at far right); and USS LST-524. Note barrage balloons overhead and Army “half-track” convoy forming up on the beach. Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

90 percent of combat aviators who served at the Battle of Midway earned their wings through Navy Reserve Aviation programs.

After completing training, Naval Aviation‬ Cadets served three years on active duty before being commissioned as Ensigns in the US Navy Reserve. These U.S. Navy Reserve pilots became the nucleus of the U.S. Naval Air Forces that would fight in WWII‬.

Naval Reserve Aviation Cadets receive navigation instruction in front of a Vought OS2U aircraft, circa 1942-43. Note four varieties of uniform worn by the cadets, including khaki working uniforms with flight cap and parachute, aviation working "greens," service dress "white" and service dress "blues." Instructor is wearing a fleece-lined leather flight suite. ( US National Archives 80-G-K-16145)

Naval Reserve Aviation Cadets receive navigation instruction in front of a Vought OS2U aircraft, circa 1942-43. Note four varieties of uniform worn by the cadets, including khaki working uniforms with flight cap and parachute, aviation working “greens,” service dress “white” and service dress “blues.” Instructor is wearing a fleece-lined leather flight suite. ( US National Archives 80-G-K-16145)

Martin BM-1, of VT-1S, take off over the stern of the USS Lexington (CV 2) on May 17, 1934.  USN Photo Collection.

Martin BM-1, of VT-1S, take off over the stern of the USS Lexington (CV 2) on May 17, 1934. USN Photo Collection.

Stearman N2s-3 "Kaydet" training planes on the flight line during World War II.  (US National Archives 80-G-K14044)

Stearman N2s-3 “Kaydet” training planes on the flight line during World War II. (US National Archives 80-G-K14044)

Floyd Bennett Field NY Reserve Squadron Aircraft, 1932.  USN Photo Collection.

Floyd Bennett Field NY Reserve Squadron Aircraft, 1932. USN Photo Collection.

The Battle of Midway begins in 1942. The battle is a decisive win for the U.S, bringing an end to Japanese naval superiority in the Pacific.

Battle of Midway, June 1942. Ensign George H. Gay at Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital, with a nurse and a copy of the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" newspaper featuring accounts of the battle. He was the only survivor of the 4 June 1942 Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) TBD torpedo plane attack on the Japanese carrier force. Gay's book "Sole Survivor" indicates that the date of this photograph is probably 7 June 1942, following an operation to repair his injured left hand and a meeting with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives Collection.

Battle of Midway, June 1942. Ensign George H. Gay at Pearl Harbor Naval Hospital, with a nurse and a copy of the “Honolulu Star-Bulletin” newspaper featuring accounts of the battle. He was the only survivor of the 4 June 1942 Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) TBD torpedo plane attack on the Japanese carrier force.
Gay’s book “Sole Survivor” indicates that the date of this photograph is probably 7 June 1942, following an operation to repair his injured left hand and a meeting with Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, U.S. National Archives Collection.

The Battle of Midway Robert Benny #7 Oil on Canvas, circa 1943

The Battle of Midway
Robert Benny #7
Oil on Canvas, circa 1943

Air Attack on Japanese Carriers Griffith Baily Coale #31 Charcoal & pastel, circa 1942

Air Attack on Japanese Carriers
Griffith Baily Coale #31
Charcoal & pastel, circa 1942

Battle of Midway, June 1942. Diorama by Norman Bel Geddes, depicting the explosion of depth charges from USS Hammann (DD-412) as she sank alongside USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the afternoon of 6 June 1942. Both ships were torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-168 while Hammann was assisting with the salvage of Yorktown. USS Vireo (AT-144) is shown at left, coming back to pick up survivors, as destroyers head off to search for the submarine. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Battle of Midway, June 1942. Diorama by Norman Bel Geddes, depicting the explosion of depth charges from USS Hammann (DD-412) as she sank alongside USS Yorktown (CV-5) during the afternoon of 6 June 1942. Both ships were torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-168 while Hammann was assisting with the salvage of Yorktown. USS Vireo (AT-144) is shown at left, coming back to pick up survivors, as destroyers head off to search for the submarine.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

1934, USS Ranger (CV 4), the first U.S. Navy ship designed from the keel up as a carrier, is commissioned at Norfolk, Va. During WWII‬, she participates in Operation Torch and Operation Leader.

USS Ranger (CV 4) underway in Hampton Roads, Va., 18 August 1942. Note partially lowered after elevator and flight deck identification letters "R N G R" still visible just ahead of the ramp. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives

USS Ranger (CV 4) underway in Hampton Roads, Va., 18 August 1942. Note partially lowered after elevator and flight deck identification letters “R N G R” still visible just ahead of the ramp. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives

Grumman F3F-1 Fighters of Fighting Squadron Four (VF-4) from USS Ranger (CV 4) In flight over the Southern California coast. Photo is dated January 1939. Plane in the foreground is Bureau # 0261. Original photograph is in the collections of the Aviation History Branch, Naval Historical Center.

Grumman F3F-1 Fighters of Fighting Squadron Four (VF-4) from USS Ranger (CV 4) In flight over the Southern California coast. Photo is dated January 1939. Plane in the foreground is Bureau # 0261. Original photograph is in the collections of the Aviation History Branch, Naval Historical Center.

Sailors stripping ship aboard USS Ranger (CV 4), in anticipation of action off Morocco, circa early November 1942. Paint has been chipped from the bulkheads and overheads as a precaution against fire. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Sailors stripping ship aboard USS Ranger (CV 4), in anticipation of action off Morocco, circa early November 1942. Paint has been chipped from the bulkheads and overheads as a precaution against fire. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

North Africa Operation, November 1942 - testing machine guns of Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters aboard USS Ranger (CV 4), while en route from the U.S. to North African waters, circa early November 1942. Note the special markings used during this operation, with a yellow ring painted around the national insignia on aircraft fuselages. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

North Africa Operation, November 1942 – testing machine guns of Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters aboard USS Ranger (CV 4), while en route from the U.S. to North African waters, circa early November 1942. Note the special markings used during this operation, with a yellow ring painted around the national insignia on aircraft fuselages. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

"Battle of Midway, 3 June 1942" by Claudus Rodolfo, Oil Painting This painting shows a lone Japanese airplane downed in front of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. The artist took liberties in many aspects of this painting. He claims that this image shows June 3, 1942; however, the battle did not begin until June 4. Also, the aircraft carrier in the image is USS Yorktown (CV 10), but that particular Yorktown was built in 1943 and is currently on display as a museum ship at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, South Carolina. USS Yorktown (CV 5) was the ship lost at the Battle of Midway.

“Battle of Midway, 3 June 1942” by Claudus Rodolfo, Oil Painting
This painting shows a lone Japanese airplane downed in front of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.
The artist took liberties in many aspects of this painting. He claims that this image shows June 3, 1942; however, the battle did not begin until June 4. Also, the aircraft carrier in the image is USS Yorktown (CV 10), but that particular Yorktown was built in 1943 and is currently on display as a museum ship at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, South Carolina. USS Yorktown (CV 5) was the ship lost at the Battle of Midway.

1917, during ‪‎WWI‬, USS Jupiter (AC 3), transports the first contingent of U.S. ‪‎Naval Aviators‬, the First Naval Aeronautical Detachment, to Pauillac, France. The men are commanded by Lt. Kenneth Whiting. USS Jupiter is later converted into the Navy’s first aircraft carrier USS Langley (CV 1).

Five of the U.S. Navy's early aviators, at Pensacola, Fla. Circa 1915-1916

Five of the U.S. Navy’s early aviators, at Pensacola, Fla. Circa 1915-1916

USS Jupiter (Fuel Ship # 3). Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 16 October 1913. USN Photo Collection

USS Jupiter (Fuel Ship # 3). Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 16 October 1913. USN Photo Collection

US Naval Air Station, Pauillac, France. U.S. Navy sailors working on extending the railroad for the A&R Shop, circa WWI. USN Photo Collection.

US Naval Air Station, Pauillac, France. U.S. Navy sailors working on extending the railroad for the A&R Shop, circa WWI. USN Photo Collection.

US Naval Air Station, Pauillac, France, Barracks, Warehouses, and offices, circa WWI. NHHC Photograph Collection, L-File, US Naval Air Stations, Overseas.

US Naval Air Station, Pauillac, France, Barracks, Warehouses, and offices, circa WWI. NHHC Photograph Collection, L-File, US Naval Air Stations, Overseas.

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#DDay71: June 5, 1944

DDay Normandy

‪#‎HonorTheFallen‬ ‪#‎HonorTheSurvivors‬ ‪#‎RememberDDay‬ #DDay71

June 5th, 1944 – the Allies prepare for D-Day.

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On this day in 1944, more than 1,000 British bombers drop 5,000 tons of bombs on German gun batteries placed at the Normandy assault area, while 3,000 Allied ships cross the English Channel in preparation for the invasion of Normandy — D-Day.

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The day of the invasion of occupied France had been postponed repeatedly since May, mostly because of bad weather and the enormous tactical obstacles involved. Finally, despite less than ideal weather conditions—or perhaps because of them—General Eisenhower decided on June 5 to set the next day as D-Day, the launch of the largest amphibious operation in history.

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Ike knew that the Germans would be expecting postponements beyond the sixth, precisely because weather conditions were still poor….

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Crash Course: Little Known History – Operation Unthinkable

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

Winston Churchill. Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

The big secret behind World War II.

In the closing days of WWII, Winston Churchill came up with an ambitious plan for a joint French-British-American attack on the USSR. When he told the French, they reminded him about the fate of Napoleon’s Grande Armee and the Wehrmacht, the British PM quietly backed off.

March 1945 : When Winston Churchill learned in the spring of 1945 that the Americans were going to halt their advance on Berlin from the west and leave Hitler’s capital to the mercies of the Red Army of the Soviet Union, he was furious. Russian behavior was worsening by the day as Stalin’s all-conquering men rolled up the countries in the east and made them satellites of Moscow, in defiance of agreements made by the heads of state at the Yalta conference only weeks earlier. Many in the Allied ranks even knew that the D-Day was invasion to stop the Soviet influence in continental Europe rather than to defeat Nazi Germany who were at the point on the brink of defeat.

Churchill’s top secret plan to attack the Soviet Union was scheduled for 1 July 1945. British, US, French, Polish and German (Former Wehrmacht) forces were to attempt to liberate East Germany, East Prussia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. After liberating those forces the new allied forces would drive towards Moscow. The War Cabinet listed out the total allied strength in Europe on June 1st, 1945 : 64 American divisions, 35 British and Dominion divisions, 4 Polish divisions, and 10 German divisions.

The German divisions were purely imaginary because after the mauling they received, the surviving soldiers were in no hurry to fight. At most, the allies would have mustered 103 divisions, including 23 armored ones. Against this force were arrayed 264 Soviet divisions, including 36 armored. Moscow commanded 6.5 million troops – a 2:1 advantage – on the German border alone. Overall, it had 11 million men and women in uniform. Captured General Halder warned the Americans that war against Russia was certainly not a walk in the park just like he warned Hitler in 1941.

The Allied War Cabinet said it was beyond the capabilities of the 103 divisions of Allied troops in Europe to do what Napoleon and Hitler had failed to do. As Alan Brooke noted in his diary, “The idea is of course fantastic and the chances of success quite impossible. There is no doubt from now onwards Russia is all-powerful force in the world.”

The British generals were furious when a cable arrived from US President Harry Truman, saying there was no chance the Americans would offer help – let alone lead an attempt – to drive the Russians from Eastern Europe.

The Unthinkable file was closed.

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#RedFriday: WWII Veterans Receive French Legion of Honor Medals

French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

Six World War II veterans were honored with French Legion of Honor medals. The medal is the highest French distinction.

The medals were bestowed upon the veterans by French Consul General Gregor Trumel. A ceremony was held on Thursday at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The Legion of Honor Medal was created by Napoleon in 1802 to acknowledge services rendered to France by persons of exceptional merit and accomplishments. French representatives expressed their gratitude and appreciation for their contribution to the liberation of France during World War II.

Medals were bestowed upon:

  • Mr. Ralph J. Bertheaud (Posthumous),
  • Mr. Louis Bradley(Plaquemines Parish, LA),
  • Mr. Aubrey H. Covington (Metairie, LA),
  • Mr. Leonard J. Kuckelman (Atchison County, KS),
  • Mr. Ubert J. Labat Jr (Slidell, LA),
  • and Mr. Lampton C. Terrel (Bush, LA),

The six were named Chevaliers de la Légion d’honneur, Knights in the order of the Legion of Honor.

Last month: Charles Bruns recipient of French Legion of Honor

Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns

Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns

WWII Veteran Charles ‘Chick’ Bruns of Champaign IL was selected and appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction. Through this award, the French government pays tribute to the soldiers who did so much for France 70 years ago.

Charles Bruns served with the 3rd Division, 10th Engineer Battalion throughout WWII and was active during the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Southern France. He ended military service in August, 1945 at the rank of Technical Sargent. During his service, Chick kept a diary, took photographs and collected postcards. This along with the letters he wrote home to his parents is being shared in the most complete daily account of a solider during WWII on the Website: 70yearsago.com

Presented by Vincent Floreani, Consul General de France a Chicago, “you gave your youth to France and the French people. Many of your fellow soldiers did not return but they remain in our hearts”. The French National Order of the Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. American recipients include Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Michael Mullen. Today there are approximately 93,000 Legion of Honor recipients.

American veterans like Chick who risked their lives during World War II and who fought on French territory qualify to be decorated as Knights of the Legion of Honor. Veterans must have fought in one of the four main campaigns of the Liberation of France: Normandy, Provence, Ardennes, or Northern France.

Veteran Charles F. wrote a diary during the second world war which is now being published by his son. He served in North Africa and Europe until the war ended.  John Bruns, his son, has re-purposed the diary into a website called http://www.70yearsago.com . The website is updated daily.

He argues that it is his father who is blogging from the past.

Chick Bruns, 94 used to sell clothes at Joseph Kuhn & Co in downtown Champaign before he volunteered to join U.S. Army.

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#MilitaryMonday: US Army’s Mighty 8th, Savannah, GA

In the month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the US Army’s 8th Air Force is established in Savannah Georgia.

It has seven men and no planes.

Less than a year later it is tasked with defeating the most powerful Air Force in the world – the German Luftwaffe.
This is their story in six high-definition videos…
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#MilitaryMonday: Late June 1944 – Normandy, France

A glimpse into what was happening in Normandy, France 70 years ago…

National Ensigns fly proudly as a pair of landing craft hits the beach somewhere in Normandy. Overhead barrage balloons protect against dive-bomber attack. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

National Ensigns fly proudly as a pair of landing craft hits the beach somewhere in Normandy. Overhead barrage balloons protect against dive-bomber attack.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Clearing Normandy beaches of the tricks and devices set up by the Nazis in a futile attempt to prevent or delay an Allied landing, members of a U. S. Navy Beach Battalion uproot the spider-like obstructions intended to rip out the bottoms of our ships. Though visible at low tide, the obstructions were covered with water at high tide. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Clearing Normandy beaches of the tricks and devices set up by the Nazis in a futile attempt to prevent or delay an Allied landing, members of a U. S. Navy Beach Battalion uproot the spider-like obstructions intended to rip out the bottoms of our ships. Though visible at low tide, the obstructions were covered with water at high tide.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Proving the amphibious nature of World War II, these US Navy men are stationed ashore somewhere in France to perform duties which will further the cooperation of land and sea forces. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Proving the amphibious nature of World War II, these US Navy men are stationed ashore somewhere in France to perform duties which will further the cooperation of land and sea forces.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Exhausted from their rapid advance inland from the Normandy beachhead, US soldiers relax for a few minutes outside a French cafe. US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

Exhausted from their rapid advance inland from the Normandy beachhead, US soldiers relax for a few minutes outside a French cafe.
US Navy Official photograph, Gift of Charles Ives, from the collection of The National WWII Museum.

All images courtesy of The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, LA.

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#WarriorWednesday: A Pictorial Perspective of D-Day Then and Now

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June 6, 2018 marks the 74th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military assault in history. This is a stunning comparison of the scenes in 1944 and what those areas look like today.

American soldiers stand in the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, which was liberated by paratroopers of the 501st and 506th Regiments of the 101st Airborne Division:

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Troops of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division land at Juno Beach on the outskirts of Bernieres-sur-Mer on D-Day. 340 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the battle for the beachhead:

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German prisoners are guarded by British soldiers from the 2nd Army on Juno Beach:

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U.S. Army vehicles driving through the runs of Saint-Lo, which was almost completely destroyed by 2,000 Allied bombers:

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A Canadian soldier directs traffic in front of Notre-Dame Nativity Church in Bernieres-sur-Mer, close to where 14,000 Canadians landed at Juno Beach:

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American craft of at Omaha Beach, Normandy, during the first stages of the Allied invasion, which is near Colleville-sur-Mer:

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U.S. troops leaving Weymouth, U.K., to take part in Operation Overloard:

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A French armored column passing through Sainte-Mere-Eglise receiving a warm welcome:

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Ammunition stores in advance of the assault in Moreton-in-Marsh, U.K.:

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British Royal Marine Commandos of 4th Special Service Brigade land on Juno Beach at Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer:

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The paramount courage of the Allied forces who stormed the beaches of Normandy shall not be forgotten; even as the ocean waters lap away the sands of time.

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#MilitaryMonday: #DDay70 – A Final Look

dday Landing ship put cargo ashore at low tide. Beaches are secured by the evening of June 6th. (Photo courtesy of NHHC Photo Archives) #DDay70 dday44 “Say WHAT?!” said Gen. Eisenhower during a review of the crew of USS Quincy (CA 71) in May 1944. Okay, that’s probably not what he said, but in retrospect of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I thought I’d offer you the chance to put words into the mouth of the Supreme Allied Commander as he visited a ship that would engage the enemy on Utah Beach. But wait there’s more! Quincy had a couple more brushes with history on and following D-Day. At 0537, 6 June 1944, she engaged shore batteries from her station on the right flank of Utah Beach, Baie de la Seine. During the period 6 through 17 June, in conjunction with shore fire control parties and aircraft spotters, Quincy conducted highly accurate pinpoint firing against enemy mobile batteries and concentrations of tanks, trucks, and troops. She also neutralized and destroyed heavy, long range enemy batteries, supported minesweepers operating under enemy fire, engaged enemy batteries that were firing on the crews of the ships USS Corry (DD-463) and Glennon (DD-620) during their efforts to abandon their ships after they had struck mines and participated in the reduction of the town of Quineville on 12 June. dday2 Crash

#MilitaryMonday: World War II Medal of Honor recipient Walter Ehlers dies

This 2001 photo shows Walt D. Ehlers, of Buena Park, Calif., and recipient of World War II Medal of Honor. Ehlers died at 92. During the historic D-Day invasion of World War II, Ehlers accomplished some of the most awe-inspiring acts of bravery imaginable, earning a Medal of Honor for knocking out two German machine-gun nests and saving countless Allied soldiers' lives. Ehlers died Thursday at a Long Beach hospital of kidney failure, his wife, Dorothy, told The Associated Press on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Jebb Harris)

This 2001 photo shows Walt D. Ehlers, of Buena Park, Calif., and recipient of World War II Medal of Honor. Ehlers died at 92. During the historic D-Day invasion of World War II, Ehlers accomplished some of the most awe-inspiring acts of bravery imaginable, earning a Medal of Honor for knocking out two German machine-gun nests and saving countless Allied soldiers’ lives. Ehlers died Thursday at a Long Beach hospital of kidney failure, his wife, Dorothy, told The Associated Press on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Jebb Harris)

During the historic D-Day invasion of World War II, Walter D. Ehlers accomplished some of the most awe-inspiring acts of bravery imaginable, earning a Medal of Honor for knocking out two German machine-gun nests and saving countless Allied soldiers’ lives.

The 23-year-old staff sergeant charged through enemy gunfire to kill seven enemy soldiers, chase away several others, put a halt to mortar fire and carry a wounded comrade to safety, even after he been shot in the back.

Yet for years, Ehlers rarely talked about those accomplishments; not until word got around that it was his Medal of Honor heroics that were getting him invited to every presidential inauguration since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s.

Ehlers died Thursday at a Long Beach hospital of kidney failure, his wife, Dorothy, told The Associated Press on Monday. He was 92, and his passing leaves only seven surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipients.

Walter Ehlers at 23. The Staff Sgt receives his Medal of Honor

Walter Ehlers at 23. The Staff Sgt receives his Medal of Honor

“He never bragged about it at all,” his wife said of her husband’s wartime heroics, adding he simply told people who commented on his Medal of Honor, “I wear it for all those who didn’t come home.” That included his older brother, Roland.

“He would always tell you his brother, who was killed on D-Day, was his hero,” she said.

The brothers had enlisted in the Army together in 1940 and had taken part in invasions of Africa and Italy before D-Day arrived on June 6, 1944. The day before, their military superiors said they were separating them to improve the odds that at least one would survive.

As the Allied boats arrived under heavy German fire, Ehlers, a staff sergeant, led his group of soldiers onto the sand. His brother, arriving on another boat, was killed.

“I got all 12 of my men off the beach without a casualty, which was the best thing I ever did in my life,” he once told the Orange County Register.

As the soldiers advanced, they came under heavy fire from first one and then another machine-gun nest. Ehlers single-handedly knocked out both, as well as chased away a group of German soldiers firing mortar rounds.

In all, he killed seven enemy soldiers and carried a badly wounded comrade to safety after being shot in the back himself.

“The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness displayed by S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others,” his Medal of Honor citation reads.

After the war, Ehlers returned briefly to Kansas, where he had grown up and where a street is named after him in the town of Manhattan. Soon afterward, he moved to California.

“He wanted to get into the movies,” his wife recalled Monday with a laugh. She added that he did earn one movie credit, playing West Point cadet Mike Shannon in the 1955 John Ford film “The Long Gray Line.”

“He always joked that he graduated from West Point because his character did.”

Instead, the Buena Park resident spent many years working for the Veterans Administration as a benefits counselor.

On the 50th anniversary of D-Day he returned to France, where he joined President Bill Clinton and others in commemorating the event.

In addition to his wife of 58 years, Ehlers is survived by daughters Cathy Metcalf and Tracy Kilpatrick; his son, Lt. Col. (ret.) Walter D. Ehlers Jr.; sisters Leona Porter, Marjorie Gustin and Gloria Salberg; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Walter Ehlers3

Funeral services with full military honors will be March 8 at Riverside National Cemetery.

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