Marines at Normandy...

.... In the run-up for the 60th Anniversary of the Allied landings at Normandy, Blackfive asked the Milbloggers to tell some personal stories about people we knew who were involved... but, none of my family were present during the invasion... my Grandfather was indeed in the US Army, but he arrived a few weeks later.... he has told me many stories about the courage, sacrifice, and hard-times that he and his mates had crawling through Belgium... and France.... in the end, he was captured... early in the morning of December 14th... wounded and freezing in the Ardennes snow... manning his 81mm mortar with his section... during the Battle of the Bulge... Stalag 12A was his final destination... weighing 196 pounds when coming ashore in June.... and... 98 pounds when the Russians liberated his camp... that was my Grandfather....

... the rest of my family served in either the US Marines, or Navy... Great Uncle J.R. was not too far from the flag when it was raised over Suribachi... Great Uncle Rob was a Seabee on Peleilu.. Great Uncle George was an Army cannoncocker for Macarthur... and, so the list goes... all Pacific Theatre..... but, when it comes to Europe... there is only Grandpa.... so, I thought that I would focus this post in a slightly different area... D-day being one of the US Military's Finest Hours.... I immediately asked myself... as one tends to do.... "where were the Marines?"...

... as it turns out, while researching this per Blackfive's request, I have found out about quite a few incredible individuals that I hadn't heard about before.... and, yes... there were a few Jarheads present during the landing at Normandy.... the Naval armada during the invasion was incredible... ships as far as the eye could see... all manner of ships... military, and civilian..... and, among the Capital ships, the cruisers normally had at least 80 Marines onboard to man their 5-inch guns... and, among the battleships, a cadre of 200 Marines.... so, yes... some of my Brothers were indeed there during the Allied penetration of Europe... but, also... Marines were present in the planning of Operation Overlord... most notably, General Harold D. Campbell, USMC.... he was an advisor to the British Staff of Combined Operations... he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his help in planning the amphibious assault.... Marines had been landing troops by sea in some of the bloodiest battles on the Pacific... so, their grim expertise was put to good use...

... one of the Men that I had a chance to read about in my quest for ETO Marines, was Col. Peter J. Ortiz, USMC... he wasn't at Normandy.... but, he was one of 51 US Marines who served with the OSS in Europe... seriously... follow this link, and read the whole page... he was one impressive Legionnaire AND US Marine... and, this article tells of various USMC exploits in the ETO... including D-day.... hearing of USMC sharpshooters during the invasion.... climbing onto the highest point of their ships, and exploding surface mines with well-aimed rifle fire... well, that just harks back to the Birth of the Corps.. quadrafoil and all... but, back to my point...

... the Men of D-day were all together... back then, we were all together in this.... putting the skills of Soldier... Sailor... Air Corpsman... Coast Guardsman... civilian.... and, Marine...to good use... the brotherhood of a common cause welded them together... and, a beach was taken, people.... the valor... and, sacrifice... of those incredible Human Beings that day.. well, it is an example to us all...

... so, on this 60th Anniversary of the Invasion of Europe... I would like to thank all of the people involved... if you had failed... if you had lacked the courage... we would not be here today... living as comfortably as we are... thank you... you are remembered...

by Eric on June 03, 2004 | Bullshit (5) | Military Stuff
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Sixtieth Anniversary of D-Day
» Marine Corps Moms links with: Marines at Normandy
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Bullshit So Far

Like you, I don't know anyone who was directly involved in D-Day. My father missed it, I think he was over in Scotland in 1945 if I recall correctly, but that's the closest I get.

Thanks for the stories and the link! It seems everyone was needed and no one failed to step up. That's why we won. I echo your thanks to those men and women who worked to make D-day a success.

Bullshitted by Teresa on June 3, 2004 11:26 PM

My Dad also was in the Pacific, among other things he made that long walk through the surf at Tarawa, though my uncle was in the Army Air Corps. He flew the Jug, the P-47 Thunderbolt as a fighter-bomber. During D-Day and before and after he flew as many missions as the ground crew could fuel, repair and rearm his Jug, strafing and bombing everything that moved toward those beaches. On June 8, 1944 his plane was shot up so badly he had to crashland into the surf just off the beaches, every flat spot he flew over on Allied held land was too crowded with men and machinery. Five days later he was back in England uncrating a new Jug, back in action within ten days.
I never knew that until I read the citation for the DFC while helping the family box up old papers after his death.
I'd seen the scars from the plexiglass shards in his face and arms all my life and knew they'd come from getting hit with antiaircraft fire but never knew the details. He just said that he'd been lucky that day.

Bullshitted by Peter on June 4, 2004 12:36 PM

Eric - thanks for posting this one.

Peter - That just made me smile. Those war heroes and their damnable modesty - "just doin' my job".

God Bless 'em.

Bullshitted by Harvey on June 4, 2004 01:44 PM

Regarding Marines at D-day-There is a book that came out a few years ago called "Spearheading D-Day:American Special Units" that had a small chapter on the Marines present at D-day. Yes, they were present at D-Day on the large Capital U.S. Navy ships offshore. Not too much to report that hasn't already been reported before except that there was an interesting little blurb about how during the fighting on the heights at the top of the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc where the Army Rangers were just barely hanging on after having successfully scaled them under fire, An enterprising Marine Officer was trying to form a scratch unit of Marines from the ship's companies to make a hurried landing and reinforce the Rangers. Unfortunately, the old Army-USMC rivalry made an appearance and the local Army commanders turned down the offer and dug in waited for help coming overland from Omaha Beach in the nexr couple of days.
It would have made an interesting postscript to the battle if they had landed and fought there.

Bullshitted by Alan Wika on July 1, 2004 01:09 AM

Eric, My dad landed on Omaha beach. He was a member of the Big Red One. He started out at Oran and fought through Algeria, and Tunisia. He was field commissioned at El Guettar after everyone else had got killed by an 88 battery and he came to and got the radio to work and directed counterbattery fire that destroyed the German battery. Congratulations, you are now a forward observer! Sicily, then Normandy. He was dumped in eight feet of water and couldn't swim a stroke. Refused to die. Obviously stayed alive through the bocage, the Hurtgen, Aachen, the Bulge, ad infinitum. I consider myself lucky to have been born. He was a hard act to follow and I had to pry the stories out of him as I'm sure you would guess. I never got any stories about Easy Red out of him, though. I think they were just too grisly. He did say that the MG 42 machine guns sounded just like a Singer sewing machine. To think that the Fox Green representation in "Private Ryan" was considered not as bad as easy red. I left the theater in tears of shame at every act of disrespect I had ever sent his way. Jerry

Bullshitted by jerry dodge on August 26, 2004 08:37 PM