June 6, 2006

D-Day.

There is something unseemly -- a reader reminds me -- about all this talk of 666 and the Devil when it is also the anniversary of D-Day.

12 comments:

AlbieNYC said...

As one whose birthday is today, I find the 06/06/06 thing kinda cool, as I did the 6/6/66 thing. While the "Damien" references got old fast, I do take pride in sharing the date with D-Day. Take the good with the bad, and dont sweat the trivial.

SippicanCottage said...

Saving Private Ryan was a lousy movie. But we're forever in the debt of Spielberg for the first ten minutes of it. It really appeared to capture the essence of that beach in Normandy.

A truly heroic day in world history.

The Drill SGT said...

sip,

I agree, bad movie, amazing 10 minutes.

I have stood on that beach and looked up, and been up on the Pointe du Hoc and looked down. The heroism of those guys was incredible.

For the rest of you: In saving Private Ryan, the hero is a Captain in the Ranger BN, one of 2 inserted on the very right of the Omaha Beach to take the guns on top of a 100 foot cliff. But the rest of the soldiers on that beach are National Guard. Yes, the 29th Division from Virginia and Maryland. They are the Blue/Gray Division and wear interestingly a blue/gray shoulder patch.

There was a tidal current that day that swept all of the troops to the left, but one company on the extreme right flank landed by skill or bad luck exactly where it was supposed to. But all the support that should have landed around it, was off to the left. A Company 116th Inf, 29th Div from Bedford Virginia.

That is the strength and weakness of the Guard. particularly the small town citizen Guard. When things go well, fine, but when things go badly, it destroys a town somewhere in middle America. Or in this case rural Virginia. A/1/116th suffered the most casualties of any small unit in any war that America has ever fought and did it in a few minutes. They landed as the first infantry wave. Because none landed around them, a whole section of German defenders cut them to pieces. Steven Ambrose wrote:

German defenders virtually wiped out isolated Company A of Bedford, Va., in 15 minutes. Wrote Ambrose: "Of the 200-plus men of the company, only a couple of dozen survived, and virtually all of them were wounded."

That is what you see in the first 10 minutes of SPR.

God Bless you all!

Dadgum said...

Thank you for your thoughts, Sarge.

The Drill SGT said...

Here's Patton's D Day speech. Can't imagine a general saying these things today.

http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/jjmeyers/patton.html

what a simpler time

Joe said...

Speaking of Ambrose, his Citizen Soldiers tells the story from June 7, 1944 to the end. Amazing stories, a horrible winter, suffering we can hardly believe today.

Elizabeth said...

That 10 minutues allowed me just a little insight into my father's enduring silence about his war experiences.


Speaking of Stephen Ambrose, the D-Day Museum in New Orleans is worth a trip to the city. I believe it is now the National WWII Museum, after extending its holdings over the past couple of years. The oral histories alone are a national treasure.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Sip, Drill, you're breaking my heart! Flawed, yes, but lousy? I must respectfully disagree.

Here is one big flaw. In the original screenplay, Miller leads the assault at Point du Hoc, but Spielberg changed it. It's an amazing read. I simply cannot believe that flesh and blood human beings actually did that. It's the stuff of mythology. But they did. My guess is Spielberg changed it because he wanted to redefine the classic beach-landing scene we had seen in films past.

Regarding the 666 business and D-Day. I see a correlation. 666 is a symbol of evil. D-Day reminds us that the main thing that stops evil from always winning is good men (and women sometimes) with guns.

Also, to Drill and all the other good men and women with guns out there: Thank you for your service.

The Drill SGT said...

OK, Johnny, not bad. but not what it he could have done. Imagine a "Band of Brothers" style movie set on D-Day. Well in some ways that was done with "The Longest Day", which was a great book and an enjoyable movie though dated now and too corny for todays audience.

Thanks to your father Eliz and others like him.

I've been told this quote is Orwell, but it sure sounds like it could have come from Kipling 50 years earlier, and sums up how I feel about those guys on that beach that day.

Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf

MadisonMan said...

One thing I liked about Charles Schulz and Peanuts is that he usually mentioned D-Day in his strip on the 6th. I didn't notice any mention today in any strip. Rats.

Dean said...

My dad was a 19 year old on an LST. Relatively sheltered from the hell on the beach perhaps, but he also never spoke of it.

Elizabeth said...

Yesterday, the D-Day museum held a ceremony to mark the occasion. It was apparent how hard that generation was hit by Katrina and its aftermath. Consider this a request to say a prayer, or just have moment of sobering thought about the fate of so many of the Greatest Generation here in New Orleans. Of those who stayed for the storm, and drowned in their homes, many were elderly. Some were just too frail, or too stubborn, having survived so much in their lives, to evacuate. Of those who evacuated, their health was too frail to put up with the stress. By far the majority of those who perished, some 1570 people, were elderly, of the WWII generation.

Here's a short bit for local reporting on yesterday's service:

“Everyone’s displaced all over the country,” said Jim Weller, a tank driver in the Army’s 62nd A.F.A. battalion, who served in the invasion of Normandy. “We’ve still got some out that we don’t know what happened to them. They’re just gone.”

One of those whose fate is known was Walter Zumpe. A former pilot in the Army’s 419th Night Fighter Squadron, Zumpe survived countless air raids and being shot down and imprisoned in a German stalog. He drowned in Katrina’s floodwaters at his Gentilly home just east of the mouth of Bayou St. John.

National Guardsmen from Massachusetts found Zumpe’s body weeks after the storm, then posted a sentry outside the residence until his remains were removed.