This year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, which was the beginning of the end of the Axis’ strangulation hold on the rest of Europe. More than 156,000 Allied forces participated in the crossing of the English Channel to begin to chip away at the stalwart German defenses.
The landings along the French coast were not easy. The Allies faced obstacles such as stakes, land mines, barbed wire, high tides, tank traps, loose sand, while, at the same time, being fired on by enemy artillery and machine gun fire.
Most feared was the iconic MG-42, which at its highest rate of fire, could fire about 25 rounds per second. To put this in perspective, one soldier targeted by one entrenched MG-42 could have 100 rounds thrown at him every four seconds. Considering there were 85 MG-42 machine gun nests on Omaha Beach alone, this put the amount of opposing firepower directed at Allied forces in unimaginable proportions.
D-Day alone saw more than 12,000 Allied casualties.
But, the Allies clawed their way through the defenses, often clearing them bunker by bunker or house by house until, on June 12, 1944, all of the beachheads were linked and reinforcements and supplies were brought forward to help deliver the knockout blow to Nazi Germany.
The war lasted in Europe until Germany surrendered in April of 1945 and signed an unconditional surrender shortly thereafter.
As veterans, family members and survivors of veterans who have fallen or passed on, we must never forget the sacrifices and bravery of the men and women who answered America’s call.
We are losing more members of the “Greatest Generation” each day and it is incumbent on us to mark these important anniversaries in our history as veterans. Their contributions to our freedom, and later their leadership and service to our organization, changed the world for the better.
I urge us all to take a brief moment of silence on this 70th anniversary of this historic undertaking and remember those who came before us.