All About D-Day
By: Marissa Garceau and Mandalynn Seaton
On June 6, 1944 U.S. troops invaded multiple beaches in Normandy. Two of the most famous beaches include Utah beach and Omaha beach. American had 73,000 forces total to take over these various beaches. At Utah Beach, there was 23,250 troops, and at Omaha Beach, there was 34,250 troops. America also had 15,500 airborne troops.
The 101st Airborne was an American infantry division trained for air assault. They were given the mission of "anchoring the corps' southern flank and to eliminate the German's secondary beach defenses." This would allow the American ships to continue inland. When the planes approached the French coast, they encountered bad weather and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the pilots to break formation. The paratroopers from both the 101st Airborne Division and the 82nd Airborne Division missed their landing zones are were scattered over wide areas. The struggle for these soldiers was to find their unit, and eventually 1,500 soldiers from the divisions were killed or captured.
Thomas Valence was one of the many soldiers that fought at the beaches. He was a rifle sergeant and remembers how the Germans were firing rapidly with small arms. The water was knee high and they had been trained to move forward, crouch and fire. He didn't know where to fire but attempted to fire back anyway. Thomas didn't know what was happening around him. In the end, he abandoned his equipment (which was very heavy) and tried to get off the beach. He was shot in the hand and was determined not to die on the beach. He was also shot in the left thigh and had a broken hip, but lived. He still remembers the bodies washed up on shore and how he was alive and surrounded by many dead bodies.
Ralph Jenkins was a 24 year old pilot, more specifically he was the squadron operations officer of the 510th based at Christchurch (west of Southhampton). He thought Germany had a skimpy navy and wouldn't have any resistance to the invasion. Early on June 6, he was summoned by intelligence officers and was briefed on a mission for that day. He went over the English Channel and searched for the German Navy. Ralph said it was boring and they didn't see any submarines. They did see a large ship that was headed for the Contentin Peninsula, and once they got closer, the sky was filled with antiaircrafft fire coming from the ship.
Allen W. Stephens
He remembers waking up at 2 a.m. on June 6th to go on his 21st mission. Take off was at 4:20 a.m. and it was raining steadily. He could barely see the lights of the airplanes ahead of him, and that's after clearing the runway. When the airplanes broke out of the cloud bank in the sky, they could see B-26s and other types of planes as well circling around. They went across the English Channel and were the first aircrafts to hit the invasion target. The planes moved toward the beaches and got a good view of the battle. They witnessed one large ship go down, one B-26 Marauder explode in midair, and saw all the parachutes that had been thrown off by paratroopers. Allen also remembers seeing a tremendous wall of smoke along the shore where the bombs and shells were exploding.