On June 6th, we celebrated D-Day! It was the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. It was on June 6, 1944 that thousands of American soldiers lost their lives in a fight to defend freedom.
Some may know it as the Allied Invasion of Normandy or as it was codenamed Operation Neptune. These were the landings that took place on June 6th in 1944 during World War II. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history, which began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control.
There are many stories that have been told over the years of D-Day. This story is the story of Lt. Col. James Rudder and the taking of Pointe du Hoc from the Germans. Without the success of taking this cliff, thousands more of Americans would have died.
H/T Conservative Tribune:
On this 73rd anniversary of a battle that turned the tide of World War 2, much can be said about the thousands of brave men who secured the bloody beaches of Normandy.
The efforts of a detachment from the 2nd Ranger Battalion are particularly extraordinary. According to Army History, this battalion was critical for the success of the D-Day landings, as the soldiers assaulted a heavily fortified clifftop that overlooked American force landings — both the Omaha and Utah beaches.
Known as Pointe du Hoc, the 100-foot-tall cliff posed a deadly threat to American forces. The cliff, defended by German infantry, was believed to be fortified with bunkers and firing positions, posing a horrific threat to the American forces who were easy targets on the beaches below.
(Photo: Lt. Col. James Rudder)
As such, a force of roughly 225 men from the 2nd Ranger Battalion, under the command of Lt. Col. James Rudder, were ordered to rapidly scale the imposing cliff and silence the guns at the start of the invasion, using special rocket-fired grappling hooks fitted to ropes and makeshift ladders.
In a memoir, a commanding officer recounted the difficulty of the task Rudder and his battalion had been assigned. “No soldier in my command has ever been wished a more difficult task than that which befell the thirty-four-year-old Commander of this Provisional Ranger Force,” wrote Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley in “A Soldier’s Story,” according to Army History.
Despite taking heavy fire from machine guns and grenades, the initial force of Rangers succeeded in capturing the position atop the cliff after about 90 minutes, only to find that the artillery pieces they were after had been moved inland and replaced with dummies. The Rangers quickly found the real guns, however, and destroyed them.
The element from the 2nd Ranger Battalion was supposed to be reinforced by the rest of the battalion and the 5th Ranger Battalion, but only a platoon or two managed to make it, leaving the small force alone to withstand several fierce counterattacks from the Germans.
When they were finally relieved two days after the invasion began, there were less than 75 men in any shape to fight out of the 225 who began the assault.
For their efforts, the 2nd Ranger Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and Lt. Col. Rudder, who was wounded twice in the assault, earned the Distinguished Service Cross, as did 13 other Rangers under his command who displayed heroism through their actions at Pointe du Hoc.
According to Battle of Normandy Tours, the site of this incredible battle was dormant and all-but-forgotten for decades after the war until an increasing number of tourists prompted the French government to preserve the location.
(photo: Pointe du Hoc)
To this day this site remains much the same as when the Rangers took it, with busted bunkers and craters from artillery shells still plainly visible and open for exploration by visitors.
As we celebrate the 73rd Anniversary of D-Day, on June 6th, may we remember the heroes who battled and risked everything to take Pointe du Hoc, the soldiers that stormed the beaches and the largest seaborne invasion in history – the Allied Normandy Invasion, which began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control.
To the many soldiers who risked their lives fighting to defend freedom on June 6, 1944, we salute you. Many of you, like Lt. Col. James Rudder knew like most, the soldiers on that day could not fail. The price of failure could have been the loss of a continent or more, the United States of America, as we see it today. Because of the risks that were made, and the success of Lt. Col. James Rudder and others, Europe would remain free.
On the 73rd Anniversary of D-Day, Americans salute you!
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