Posted by: SJS | June 3, 2019

D-Day 75th Anniversary on June 6th

On June 6th we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy.  The massive amphibious operation was a pivotal moment in turning the tide of WWII.  The impact of that historic day continues to reverberate in our nation and across the world.  For those of us who grew up as the children and grandchildren of the men and women who served in the US Armed Forces during the Second World War, the success and horrors of the Normandy Invasion are aspects of American History that touch very close to home.

In 1998, the movie Saving Private Ryan was released and it quickly became one of the most influential films ever made. The combined genius of director, Steven Spielberg and actors Tom Hanks and Matt Damon (among others) resulted in a work that immediately seared itself into the consciousness of viewers.  For many WWII veterans, the effect was overpowering, deeply emotional, and–in some cases–traumatic.

My sister, Marguerite, accompanied our father, George “Red” Stahley, to a showing of the movie in late 1998.  I recall her telling me that dad didn’t make past the true-to-life rendering of the invasion on the morning of June 6, 1944.  The battle scenes do not spare the viewer any images of the gruesome horrors that greeted the American soldiers as they made their way on to the beach under unrelenting enemy fire and bombardment.

The portrayal turned out to be just too much to absorb.  My father and sister had to leave the theater in the aftermath of that scene. My father was badly shaken for days and it was difficult to keep his emotions in check.

In the early part of June 1944, Red was finishing up his PT training and would soon embark for the Mediterranean PT bases in North Africa where the Americans were preparing to support the English and French forces as they geared up for the invasion of Southern France later that summer.  The war in Europe was raging–especially in France–and Red and his mates knew how intense and dangerous the fighting had become.  The Nazi war machine was not giving up ground easily and Red was fully aware that he would soon find himself on the front lines, and all that implied.

About a year after his experience with Saving Private Ryan, my father passed away in late 1999.  How I wish we had had the opportunity to talk more about his experiences in the European theater.

The photos above are public domain pictures featuring the American forces on June 6, 1944.


Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing, Poor Red had seen a lot.

  2. Lest we forget his service and those of his shipmates.


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