QATSPY SPORT PAGE
By Charles W. Boatright
D-Day Operation Over Load the 6th of June, 1944 at 06:30 Hours on Omaha Beach
The 6th of June at Omaha Beach did not offer the visitors any insight to what they could expect upon their arrival at the start of the Longest Day, D-DAY. Plans and extensive preparation had to be done in advance, but nothing could prepare these men for what they would experience, within hours of their landing on Omaha Beach.
Words could not describe what was about to happen within minutes of arriving at Omaha Beach. Their story would have been lost to history would it have not been for a movie that exposed the secrets these men left behind on the beaches of Omaha. It was only with the recreation of Steven Spielberg’s movie Saving Private Ryan that most of us final got a chance to discover what these men buried deep in their conscious.
Saving Private Ryan Open a Door into a Soldier’s Past
I had an uncle in the 29th division that landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, with the first wave. Omaha Beach had the most casualties with 2,500. This was basically all we knew about what Charles, my uncle, would talk about. Until Saving Private Ryan, I thought uncle Charles simply didn’t want to talk about that day. But the reason was more to do Repression than simply not wanting to talk about what we refer to as D-DAY, until something triggers their experiences.
Such was the case with Uncle Charles until the summer of 1998. I finally talked him into joining us to see Saving Private Ryan. It took a tremendous amount of persuading. I knew this would be the only time I could get Uncle Charles’ to share his story. During the movie you could see Uncle Charles hands trembling and sweat rolling down his forehead of a man that who tough as nails.
At the conclusion of the movie, Uncle Charles had his head bent over buried in his hands, as he was weeping. A man that I never saw cry, from the old school, was weeping. As the people filed out of the theater, over seventy came by and placed their hand on his back and said a simple Thank You! Even a young lady came by and placed a red rose in my uncle’s hands.
At the dinner, my uncle began to open up for the first time like the landing took place yesterday, right down to the sand and obstacles that they had to face. With rapid fire coming from the German’s MG-42s, he made it off the beach after being pinned down for hours.
I asked Uncle Charles if the landing was the most emotional experience for him during the war. He replied, “That was emotional, but nothing strikes fear in you like a German Tiger Panzer. I confronted my first Tiger Panzer on D-Day plus two.” What happened?” My uncle replied, “The Panzer was hit by artillery that our unit called in to support us.”
My uncle continued his story, “Ever since then, the traversing and that high pitch squelching sound has never left my mind. Every time a train comes to a stop at a crossing, that squelching sound runs cold chills down my spine.”
The Red Rose of Brittany
He ended his story by detailing what the red rose did to him. “What was amazing was the appreciation from the people about what we did on D-Day.” I recounted, “Uncle Charles, there were over seventy people that said think you.” I asked Uncle Charles about the red rose, “What about the red rose that the young lady gave you?” My uncle replied, “In Brittany a young French girl was handing roses to us after we arrived at the port of Brest.”
This is why History is so important to teach in schools to allow others to realize what the price of Freedom and Liberty cost. D-Day was one operation of many in the European and the Pacific Theaters during WW-2 that took place. D-Day is highlighted because it liberated a Continent and was the largest amphibious landing in history, with over 156,115 men landing on D-Day.
Note: There was 10,500 killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner. Omaha had the most loses with 2,500 killed. Ten percent casualties for the Operation Over Lord was dramatically less than the 20 to 30 percent predicted.
I would like to acknowledge all those that have served and are serving in the Arm Services, especially those that served during World War 2. We can’t say thanks enough, but we can remember and tell your story that saved an entire world from tyranny and oppression without Freedom and Liberty.
To read more accounts and a story about my Boy Scout Leader go to the link: THE EXCALIBUR, THE TRUE METAL OF THE GREATEST GENERATION.