Seventy years ago today, approximately 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of the French coastline on the beaches of Normandy to wage battle against the Nazi Germany forces.
June 6, 1944 — D-Day — marked the invasion of Europe and featured in excess of 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft, which allowed the Allies to gain a foothold in Normandy by day’s end. The Allies then marched across Europe to defeat Adolph Hitler’s German forces during World War II.
“It still stands as the largest amphibious landing in history and probably one of the greatest joint operations we’ve ever had,” said James Masters, Brown County Veterans Service Officer. “The services hadn’t practiced it because they were separate and had their own interests at that time. With General (Dwight) Eisenhower being the SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) commander there, that pretty much did it. There’s a lot of caveats that go on to that. A beach landing is nothing more than a frontal assault. Then it gets dicey from that point.”
While many veterans from Brown County served in the United States military during one of the most pivotal battles in world history, the number who are still alive continues to dwindle over time.
“We’ve been casting about because we do a program over at our VFW to recognize them, but we just don’t have any anymore that can get up and get around,” Masters said. “We’ve been looking into that, and oddly enough we’ve found more Pacific war folks around than European folks these days.”