Oh yes. They knew we were coming. The 82nd Airborne had been dropped the day before. They fought their way back to the beach.They did not know that the landings would be delayed because of a little bad weather. I'll bet they were outraged beyond anything I could imagine, wondering how they were supposed to hold their objectives without the backup they had been promised, to be right behind them. Waiting for the sound of bugles signifying that the Calvary was en route, to the rescue. To say the least,they were upset. They were tired.They were lucky. Let me explain where I'm going with this. People get killed in wars. Soldiers get killed in war. We are not trained to see the whole picture. Our superior officers tell us that we are a small link in the whole chain ,of what the fighting is all about. Don't get negative thoughts regarding your orders.Why are we going to dothis,this way,when it seems so much easier to do it that way? It's not exactly like they issue a rain check to some outdoor activity and everyone isinconvenienced for a few days. This activity has men's lives in the balance.We should not have delayed the landings and sacrificed those men of the 82nd,101st, without a chance of relief as they expected.Somehow I suspect that the delayed landings came about because of some bad inteligence,at the last moments of this operation. I suppose the early jumpers were told to hold their objective and we would get to them as soon as we can. Just as these Divisions carried out their orders without question, we would have done the same and gone ashore on the 5th, in the storm, because we trained to respond to our orders without question and because we were immortal. Men who have never been in a combat situation may think about death, but not about their own. You cannot realize or perceive your own death,that only happens to someone else. Combat changes that. One day you understand. A guy could get killed out here. When you've seen enough bodies of friends or enemies, you stop running for cover when there is shelling from 88s, you get scared of getting out of your foxhole because one of your skittish neighbors is quick on the trigger.You start thinking a little differently.Your existence depends on how good the guy next to you in the field is. He and the others who are still alive, start thinking pretty much the same way. Don't worry about yourself so much, just watch out for your fellowmen, because they are the only thing that is keeping you alive. Here we are, more than 60 years after this event and I defy you to tell me how many casualties the pre-D day invaders suffered. I'm sure that this figure is best kept with the overall population of American and Allied losses.
D Day. First light revealed, an LCT nestled up against the S.S.Picketton the port side,amidships,next to the No.2 hatch. No.2 is the largest hatch on a Liberty ship and contained the heaviest units. The booms on No.2 are rated for 50 tonnes, so the order was to place our tank cargo aboard the LCT along side. The Landing Craft Tank, can deliver its freight by dropping its ramp like bow, right on the beach and tanks are driven off, each with its own driver,one after the other.During the loading process we were taking fire from shore and the bridge of the LCT was hit by an 88 shell from a German gun.We found out later that a Naval Lt.on the bridge was decapitated. The crew was replaced and the LCT cast off,beach bound.The empty spot was taken immediately by another vessel.The action on the starboard side was used for offloading, fuel, ammo and Infantry into LCVPs.(Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel). The SS Morgan went down by the stern, 200 yards off our port side,as the daylight increased and it got lighter. My outfit went ashore via an LCVP coxswain who was out in the open at all times. He brought us safely to the beach without incident, then he dropped the ramp, and we debarked in waist deep water.As soon as we were ashore he backed off the beach to get another load.We landed on Utah beach. 10 hours later I returned to the Pickett to help finish unloading the ship and get our gear. The Naval bombardment destroyed almost every fortification on shore.The Atlantic Wall where we landed, was a myth. Fortunately for my outfit, we were put ashore 1000 yards northwest of our initially assigned area, and it was very lightly defended. There is a Film called "A Walk in the Sun", with Dana Andrews and John Ireland to name a few of the stars,that comes to mind. John Ireland writes letters to his sister about his well being, after the invasion of an island off Italy. All through the movie, he writes or narrates letters to her, optimistically not knowing, if they will ever be read . Their mission is to take a well fortified farm house which is serving as an observation post. Completing their assignment, after a huge loss of life, John Ireland's character under a shade tree, paper and pencil in hand,he grimly muses about the contents of a letter to his sister at the close of the film . "Dear Sis, Today we took a farm house. It was so easy."