There are not many of them left with us from that “Great Generation” but we will forever be grateful to all of them for saving our generation. Each year I honor them and try to picture what it was like to be in that Expedition Force that landed in Normandy, France in the early morning of 6 June 1944.
Omaha was the most heavily defended beach. It was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division. They faced the German 352nd Infantry Division rather than the expected single regiment. Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or caused them to be delayed. For fear of hitting the landing craft, American bombers delayed releasing their loads and, as a result, most of the beach obstacles at Omaha remained undamaged when the men came ashore. Many of the landing craft ran aground on sandbars and the men had to wade 50-125 yards in water up to their necks while under fire to get to the beach. In spite of the rough seas, DD tanks of two companies from the 741st Tank Battalion were dropped 5,000 yards (4,600 m) from shore, and 27 of the 32 flooded and sank, with the loss of 33 crew. Some tanks, disabled on the beach, continued to provide covering fire until their ammunition ran out or they were swamped by the rising tide. Casualties were around 2,000, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above.
Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to provide fire support so landings could resume. By late morning barely 600 men had reached the higher ground. By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives for Omaha were accomplished by D+3 (June 9, 1944).