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Premium Member 2006 SLK350
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70 years ago today 150,000 men landed on the French coast to beging the liberation of western Europe from Nazi terror.

Canadians landed at Juno and were the only troops to make their objective inland. The British landed at Sword and Gold; the Americans fought at Utah and Omah.

Thank you and bless you and the families that lost loved ones that day.

Lest we forget.
 

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Indeed. The Canadians at Juno were probably the most successful of all on D-Day. Omaha was nearly a disaster; I've never seen a more perfect fire sack than that beach. Utah was more successful, aided by an off-target landing which sidestepped the strongest German defenses. Gold and Sword had their share of nasty fortifications to deal with, but the troops got ashore in workmanlike fashion and made substantial gains.

There are hundreds of volumes on D-Day, but as a guy with a history degree and a strong interest in the period I'll recommend a few:

For anyone wanting to understand the Canadian experience: Juno Beach, Holding Juno, and Breakout From Juno by Mark Zuehlke. Part of his masterful ten-volume series on the Canadian war in Europe. I am probably one of the few Yanks to own the whole lot.

For the American beaches: Omaha Beach and Utah Beach by Joe Balkoski. Both volumes are exhaustively researched and exceptionally detailed minute-by-minute accounts with copious maps.

For general readers, any of Stephen Ambrose's books. They tend to be a bit florid, are less detailed, and less analytical than other sources. But they are eminently readable. My wife even got through his work "D-Day" before we went to Europe in 2005 to better understand the places we went (spent four days in Normandy; wish I could have spent four weeks!"

For more specialist topics, the field is vast. Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall is a superb account of the development and employment of Hobart's Funnies, the AVREs (Assault Vehicle Royal Engineers). These machines were developed following the tragic raid on Dieppe (Zuehlke has another good book on that engagement), and featured prominently on all the Commonwealth beaches. They were offered to the Americans, who declined their use. Omaha would likely have had a better outcome had the AVREs landed there too.

This barely scratches the surface of the literature available on D-Day, but comprise some of the best works which are readily available. There are a number of personal memoirs which have significant space devoted to D-Day, and regimental and divisional histories as well. All of those, naturally, focus on the more narrow experience of those particular individuals and units. And all are worth seeking out and reading.
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding Member 2006
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Jim Martin, 93, commemorates D-Day by parachuting again
Veteran marks 70th anniversary by jumping over Utah Beach; easier this time



Jim Martin, 93, did a tandem parachute jump from a plane over Utah Beach in France on Thursday, but he wasn’t just checking off something from his bucket list. Martin was commemorating the first time he had made the jump, 70 years ago.

“It didn’t [compare],” Martin told CNN, “because there wasn’t anybody shooting at me today.”

Martin, 23 at the time, was among a few dozen members of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted over Utah Beach into enemy-controlled territory the night before the invasion of Normandy.

As part of the ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, several veterans parachuted over Utah Beach, but Martin was the only one from his generation to jump.

“Everybody [was] scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap,” Martin told CNN about the D-Day mission 70 years ago. “But you just do what you had to do regardless of it. That’s the difference.”

Martin says he fought for 43 days as part of the Normandy campaign before being part of an invasion of Holland and the Battle of the Bulge, according to his Facebook writings.

“We just did what we trained to do,” he told CNN.

On Thursday, jumping from a plane over Utah Beach seemed like old hat to Martin. It was anything but scary.

“To tell you the truth, riding around in the plane is boring,” he said. “It’s when you get off the plane, that’s when it gets exciting…But there’s no fear to it. It’s just something you do.”

Martin admitted to being motivated by ego and wanting to prove he could still parachute at age 93.

“And also I just want to show all the people that you don’t have to sit and die just because you get old,” Martin told CNN. “Keep doing things.”

Mission accomplished, Pee Wee, mission accomplished.
 

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Sadly Gregg has passed away
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I hope that our citizens and politicians would have the courage to sustain such loses and persevere should we ever face the same sort of enemy again. I have no doubt whatsoever that our service men and women would answer the call and be triumphant. They are the very best among all of us!
 
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