Summary: The price that was paid for our freedom from sin.
On June 6, 1944, 55 years ago today
A force of 176,000 Allied soldiers from the U.S., Great Britain, and Canada
Stormed the beaches of Normandy in northern France
D-Day or Operation Overload, was the largest seaborne invasion in history
The invasion at Normandy took the Germans by surprise
Because they expected an invasion to come from farther north
Near Calais, the narrowest part of the English Channel
"Omaha" was the code name for the second beach from the right of the 5 landing areas
It was the largest of the assault areas, stretching over 6 miles
A 10-foot high seawall backed the western third of the beach
And the whole beach was overlooked by cliffs 100 feet high
There were five exits off the beach to the bluffs above . . .
The Germans under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had built formidable defenses
The waters and beach were heavily mined . . . covered with Rommel’s asparagus
A collection of obstacles (Belgian gates, log posts, log ramps and hedgehogs)
Placed on the low tide beach . . . to destroy the landingcrafts and stop gliders . . .
There were 12 strong points called Widerstandsnester . . . blockhouse/bunkers
Numerous other fighting positions dotted the area supported by a trench system
Omaha was a killing zone . . .
The beach was assaulted at 0630 hrs and from the beginning everything went wrong
Special "DD" tanks (duel drive amphibious Sherman tanks)
Sank in the choppy waters of the Channel
Only 2 of the 29 tanks launched made it to the beach
With the exception of Company A, no unit landed where it was planned . . .
Strong winds and rough seas carried the landing craft from right to left
Making the men sea sick, many of them vomiting in the boats
Throughout the landing, German gunners poured deadly fire into the invading Americans
The German soldiers in their cement bunkers, trained their machine guns
On American landing crafts killing the troops before they can leave their boat
This was a common occurrence for the first wave of American infantry at Omaha
Bodies lay on the beach or floated in the water
Wounded men are screaming out in pain for their mothers as they lay dying
Men sought refuge behind beach obstacles
Pondering the deadly 300-400 yd sprint across the beach to the seawall
Which offered some safety at the base of the cliff
By 0830 hrs all landing ceased on Omaha, the men on the beach were on their own
Slowly, and in small groups, they scaled the cliffs
Meanwhile, destroyers steamed in blasted the fortifications at point-blank range
By 1200 hours, German fire was noticeably decreased
As the defensive positions were taken from the rear
Attacking heavily fortified positions, they suffered 2,400 casualties at Omaha that day
Utah-300, Omaha-2,400, Gold-400, Juno-1,200 and Sword-630
In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks)
Survives the American landing at Omaha Beach in World War II
Captain Miller is then given a new mission: to find and extract Private James Ryan
The youngest of 4 brothers, the other 3 of whom have been KIA . . . Fritz Niland
As Captain Miller’s squad moves inland to search for Private Ryan
They enter a decimated French village, where they encounter a German sniper
Farther inland, they witness the disarray of the paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st
Whose off-target drops on the night of June 5-6
Threw much of the first week of the invasion into confusion
They meet CG-4 pilot who tells a harrowing story of crashing his overloaded glider
The squad attacks a radar site . . .
The men engages in a brief skirmish with a German squad on a half-track
Where they find Private James Ryan
Ryan refuses to leave his fellow soldiers . . .
Telling Captain Miller, tell my mother I’m with the only brothers I have left
They defend the bridge from overwhelming odds as reinforcements arrive
But it is too late for Captain Miller and his squad, all but 2 are dead
James Ryan is now an old man standing in a Normandy cemetery with his family . . .
He reflects on sacrifice that was paid for him . . . 6 lives were sacrificed to save him
Falling to his knees at the cemetery cross of Captain Miller
Crying he says to his wife, “Tell me I’ve lived a good life!” “Tell me I’m a good man!”
All the way home I could not stop thinking about the movie
I thought about the price that was paid, the lives that were lost . . .
I thought about Private Ryan’s closing comments, I heard God saying; You’re Private Ryan
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.