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80th Anniversary of D-Day


“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…” With these words, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the “Order of the Day” just before the 1944 Allied assault on Normandy Beach. It’s been 80 years since that historic day, and less than one percent of Americans who served in WWII are still alive. However, the impact of their service and sacrifice will live on forever.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the “Order of the Day”

Code named Operation Overlord, planning for D-Day began after France fell to the Nazis in 1940. It involved Allies from several countries and was the largest amphibious invasion in military history. As H-Hour approached (5:30 a.m. local time) on June 6, 1944, demolition teams had already blasted out underwater obstacles planted by German forces. Rangers were already scaling the cliffs to knock out coastal guns, and American and British airborne divisions had been dropped in hedgerows behind the beaches overnight. Soon, the first waves of Infantry would hit the beach.

Leonard T. Schroeder, Jr. served in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry, Fourth Division, where he was the commanding officer of Company F. 

Leonard T. Schroeder

He has the distinction of being the first man ashore at Utah Beach, the first beachhead, landing fewer than 60 seconds after H-Hour. Recalling the day, Schroeder said that Allied aircraft had bombed the beach heavily, creating craters that could be used as cover. Some of those craters were offshore and hidden by water. When Schroeder’s landing craft pulled ashore, he jumped off and into a water-filled crater six feet deep. He came up sputtering and struggled to rush ashore. Working his way up the beach, he was wounded by shrapnel but continued to fight. He commanded his company for three hours before collapsing into unconsciousness. He woke up at an aid station and was later evacuated to England. Schroeder received the Silver Star.

Carlton W. Barrett

Pvt. Carlton W. Barrett served in the 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division and participated in the Normandy Invasion. His unit was in the third wave of Allied soldiers to come ashore at Omaha Beach, landing at about 10:00 a.m. Germans had planted mines on the beach about a foot apart, and the beach was strewn with bodies of soldiers. Barrett landed under heavy enemy fire, wading through neck-deep water. He noticed fellow soldiers around him floundering in the water and rushed to save them from drowning. Once on the beach, Barrett carried dispatches back and forth along the exposed beach while under heavy fire. He also carried wounded soldiers to an offshore evacuation boat. For his dauntless courage, Barrett was awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Allies landed over 160,000 troops on June 6, 1944, with an estimated 10,000 casualties, more than half of which were American. Today, a visit to the Normandy American Cemetery is the final resting place for 9,387 Americans and a sobering reminder of selfless service and the ultimate sacrifice made 80 years ago. To learn more about D-Day, search Fold3® today.


  1. Margaret Arwood says:

    May we never forget these soldiers nor those of passed and future soldiers. Because of their bravery, courage and love of country the USA still stands. Without our brave soldiers we will collapse.

    My father was in the Navy in WWII, my father-in-law was at Pearl Habor and another father-in-law was on 101st airborne. They all fought and came home. They are gone now but never forgotten.

    • Msm Esq says:

      Margaret: Beautifully expressed thoughts. Thank you for sharing and gratitude to your late father and father in law for their gallant service to our country.

  2. Linda Pickle says:

    My dad was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne 502 company C

  3. Thank you for this touching tribute. My father was one of those brave men. He always said the heroes were those who didn’t come home, but he will ever be my hero.

  4. Jo Ann (Holmes) Chadwick says:

    My uncle was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne 502 company C – Have never found out much about what happened to him I do have his Purple Heart but somewhere the information has never been found from my Grandmothers estate

    • Jannell Lewis says:

      Contact the military regional office where he signed up at. Give them all the information that you have on him. They may be able to locate some more information out for you.

  5. Beth Clifton says:

    Thank you for the story. My dad was 4 weeks shy of his 27th birthday when he landed on Omaha Beach. He did not talk much about the war. He was in the 29th Division, 111th Field Artillery. He loved our country and always told us how precious our freedom is and never forget those who went to war since 1775, fought and died for us. Every time he heard our National Anthem and saw our flag, he had tears in his eyes. He was so proud to be an American. We must never forget all who have “given their all” for us. God Bless America!

  6. Sharon says:

    My father was there, and was awarded the purple heart. Unfortunately my brother was left this and lost it. I have tried to get a copy of it. Now they the army, say the building will all the records were buried in a big warehouse fire. I know that he was there. I have a picture of him and 2 buddy that was in the death march. Any one have any idea about how I can proceed with this.

    • Bob Babcock says:

      What unit and what beach was he on? I’ll help if I can,

    • MollysNene says:

      Check with the Veteran’s Agent in your town. They do have access to some records and are usually a lot of help

    • Loreen Silvarahawk says:

      Contact the American Legion, DAV or the VFW. Someone from one of them will steer you in the right direction.

    • Cecil Wayne Austin says:

      Yes go on-line and purchase a duplicate of a Purple Heart medal at about $15 dollars each. That is not as good because the paperwork is missing but you can do a write up and print it out to the best of your knowledge and put all this inside a display wooden box with a glass front.
      My Father in law in the Northern African Theater was wounded 6 times and taken prisoner of war by the Germans. His eldest son took all the medals and left the rest nothing so we set about purchasing and rebuilding the memorabilia. I have a copy of his discharge papers showing all the medals. You may also be able to get the discharge papers. There is a store in Pigeon Forge Tennessee that sells all those medals at a reasonable price and you can purchase them from there too.
      Cecil Wayne Austin
      Madison Alabama

    • Dale Holley says:


      Check your local,County records office most filed
      DD-214 records of service with when came home.

      Also VFW/American Legion either can assist you with the medals and possibly paperwork .

      Other options are, college,work employment
      Lastly the National Archives in Washington DC
      It’ll probably take some time, but we’ll worth it
      For you and your kids, grandkids

      Dale Holley DSV 90-91(Veteran)

    • Frances Leveille says:

      My father’s records were also burned in that warehouse fire. I know he was in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He retired a Lt. Colonel in 1959 at Ft Eustis, Va. He was the 714th Transportation Commander.
      Good luck with your search.

  7. Carol Ackerman says:

    The united effort of the Allied forces, the parting of the weather to allow the assault on the 6th instead of the 5th ( as planned); and the continued valor of the advancing troops despite their being picked off by the Germans in bunkers above the beaches… all deserve our lasting remembrance and solemn respect. We show respect by telling our children and grandchildren the importance of this special day. How dear a price our liberty!

  8. Natalie McLain says:

    My father was a member of the 741st Tank Batalion, Headquarters. He was part of the second wave that came in about a week after D-Day. I wish I could find more information about the second wave. Does anyone have any ideas or know about any books about it?

  9. Sandra says:

    In San Diego, CA, my father attended Browns Military School. US Army, 103rd Infantry. He was a Paratrooper jumping on D-Day. Captured and spent the next nine months in prison camps. Purple Heart, Silver Star. I wish I knew more about his story. God Bless all ❤️

  10. Dale Holley says:


    A Veteran, here you can get your relative’s records
    By contacting your local VFW, they will help you get his Medals and records that are available.

    If all else, fails contact the National Archives in Washington DC it be a process either way paperwork, but worth it to your family

    Dale Holley DSV 90-91

    • Dale Holley says:

      Also check your father’s county of records, most
      Veterans filed a DD-214 on record with county records office or local college as they earned
      Their education benefits too. Other choices
      Might be files at the job he was employed by
      Afterwards returning home.

  11. Mindy says:

    My Dad served in the Army in WW2. He was a Staff Sergeant in Patton’s 3rd Army, 88th Engineers Battalion. He built pontoons across the Rhine River. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. He received the Croix de Guerre medal, the French Medal of Honor for bravery, which I have in my possession.

    Most of what I just wrote about him was told to my family by my mother. You see, the men who served in that war, those in the “Greatest Generation”, never spoke about the war when they returned home. They lived out their lives in silence. They were humble and proud.

    It was the actor, Charles Durning, who was a decorated WW2 Army soldier, who broke that silence. With tears in his eyes, he recalled the horrors that he endured. Read about it here.

    Also so much about the men who served in WW2 will never be known. In 1973, in St Louis, Missouri, there was a tremendous fire in the National Personnel Records Center where all the Army and Air Force records were kept. Of course this was before the digital revolution, so almost all of those paper documents sadly went up in flames. A very small portion were saved. Read about it here.

    I have his DD number and have been in touch with the National Archives. But unfortunately, there are no records. I did get some very basic info through this wonderful website, Fold3, about his Army branch and where he enlisted.

    Most notably, he was a Jew who fought against Hitler.

    With heart, thank you, Dad, rest in peace, and blessings to all who served.

  12. Nina Lee Soltwedel says:

    On D-Day, my 22-year-old brother, 1st Lt. Charles M. Lee, was a P-51 pilot, stationed in England. He was later KIA on August 8, 1944., while strafing a Nazi artillery supply train in France. He “came home” in April 1949, where he now rests and where, many years later, Dad and Mom were buried in our Wisconsin hometown’s cemetery.

  13. ROBERT David Lipscomb says:

    Truly the greatest generation! I shudder to think how different things would be today had these brave men and women had not served so valiantly.

  14. stuart brown says:

    Thanks for publishing this . We must be reminded every day that freedom is not free. There is always some people or countries that want to get rid of us for there power over us . we must continue to fight them, hopefully without bullets.

  15. Jeffrey Blalock says:

    My Dad was a paratrooper with the 82nd and jumped into France at Sainte-Mere-Eglise.

    Was lucky because he landed in one of the fields flooded by the Germans.

    • Jim Carmichael says:

      Read General Gavin’s book On to Berlin. He talks a lot about the 82nd in Normandy along w other battles.

    • Marjorie Simpson-Rousseau says:

      I’m an American, living in Normandy. We were just in Ste Mère Église today. Have you ever been here? If not, you should come sometime. It’s still as moving to me as it was the first time I witnessed for myself in person the way the French people honor and respect our veterans, now 80 years later. They remember, and they pass the information down from generation to generation, so no one forgets what happened. Even school children are taught and know what their families and ancestors endured, and died from. It’s humbling and beautiful to see our now very elder heroes be recognized and lauded for their courage and actions of so many years ago. The awe and wonder on their faces is a sight to behold, when they realize that they are the ones being applauded, revered, and thanked for their service. Many cry, many are speechless. All are deserving. God bless our veterans and God bless our country. May we never forget either.

  16. Sue Pointon says:

    Hello – I am looking for information on Lt Benjamin Riley who landed on Utah Beach with the 70th Tank Brigade.

  17. Sue Pointon says:

    Sorry – 70th Tank ‘Battalion’!

  18. Bruce Berst says:

    My father was in the Navy during WW2. A youngster once called him a hero. To which he replied” I am not a hero, I just did my job!!

  19. Pam says:

    My father was in The Big Red One, first wave in on D-Day. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and spent 4 years in the European Theatre. He told us many stories to us kids, but I never truly realized what they went through until I watched Saving Private Ryan at the insistence of my war buffs, my husband and son. I was horrified! When asked if he’d watch it he replied, “Why would I, I lived through that hell.” He’s been gone for 20 years. It warms my heart seeing how they are still being honored. Brave men.

  20. George says:

    To Sharon:

    A lot of family stories get muddled with time and telling. Before you attempt to get records, (such as they are), be sure of the theatre of operations where your ancestor served, branch of the military, etc.

    You mention a photo of him with two friends who were also on the “death march,” but also indicated that he was at D-Day. The “death march” of Bataan usually refers to the 75,000 service men who were captured in April of 1942, when the Japanese conquered the Philippines. Those soldiers were interned in the Pacific and usually spent the war there, although their stories contain just as much suffering, heroism and pain. I doubt that he would have been captured in Bataan and then somehow was involved in D-Day two years later.

    You might see if you can determine some basic information before spending a lot of time on a wild goose chase.

  21. P. Kalk says:

    When I read about the sacrifices that soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen, have made for our country I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby, when he wrote: “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom”.

  22. Mary Shields says:

    Honoring my brother Frank McGorman, Minnesota, who at age 18 was part of the Normandy Invasion. The 2nd Armored Division landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy on 9 June 1944, three days after the initial Normandy landings, and operated in the Cotentin Peninsula, later forming the right flank of the Operation Cobra assault. Later he was injured in a battle in Conches France, and was shellshock (PTSD) the remainder of his life at age 60. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

  23. John Morgan says:

    The all black combat unit the 320th landed on Omaha on D Day – written out of history. My uncles served in Europe during WW2. Being an Afro-American Vietnam Era veterans, I’m upset about all groups that fought in WW2 not being honor.

  24. My uncle died on Utah Beach that day. He was in Company B, 237th Combat Engineers.

  25. Jimmy Kerr says:

    At last we have not forgotten the US Merchant Marine who carried cargo, human and other, across the seas and sacrificed much. They were designated Veterans for service from 1941 to 1945.

  26. Alec Butler says:

    There never seems to be very much said about the part that the Navy played in the D-Day Landings.
    My Dad was in the Navy aboard HMS Rodney, and it was there to support the D-Day Landings on Sword Beach, by bombarding the battery of Bénerville as well as several German positions in the area of Carpiquet and Caen.

  27. Brice Freeman says:

    This 80-year anniversary of D-Day reminds me again of how very much the families of veterans look forward to Fold3’s release of the WWII Morning Report collection. These Company records provide a unique day-to-day accounting of activities and are essential for tracing and placing our family members through their WWII journey, and for critical accounts of such things as the landing in Normandy.

    Fold3, please prioritize this collection and work with urgency to make these critical files available to your members.

  28. Tom Connor, now 93 yrs young says:

    Yes, D-Day was extremely important!!
    However, their were very important battles in North Africa preceding before D-Day!
    My Uncle W Sharon was in those battles along with the British fighting German Tank Corp w/ General Rommel, Allies were winning (under Now General Paton), chasing Rommel into Sisily & then into the Toe of Italie’s Boot, continuing north until about 1/2 way up, they were replaced by The American Japanese Army! My uncles unit ( associated w/ now tank commander General Paton)

    , moved to southern Spain & on D-Day entered Spain, moved north until meeting the D-Day troops, joining them to turn east into Germany! Equally important were the crews that had to build temporary bridges (via floating pontoons) to cross at least one River (Rhine?) My Uncles unit ended up in what is now Yugoslavia, capturing one of Germanies concentration camps. Telling me how starving people in there ‘ran out w/ joy’ but soon returned as did not know where they were!
    Also, had younger uncle who may have been in D-Day. Soon, was wounded & presumed dead until another passing unit person heard him moan! Stopped, found him w/ sharpnel (sp) in his brain leaving him paralayzed on his right side. His partial recovery story is another story!
    Also, The final history of General Paton is also very intriguing = at least one book has been written about him = look up this (these)
    Tom Connor

  29. Sherry (Burton) Jones says:

    My Dad was drafted into the Army at the age of nineteen a farm kid from Oklahoma, and came home a man. He was in Company B 146th Engineer Combat Battalion. The Army Engineers landed with the United States Navy Seabees. Dad continued fighting on through Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. On their way they liberated a concentration camp. Dad never forgot the looks of those starving men or the wounded and dead he helped carry off Omaha Beach. He never wanted to return to Normandy. He said he saw it once and never wanted to see it again. I always sent him flowers on D-Day to remind him how much I appreciated his sacrifice.

  30. Ray Merriam says:

    About the photo used at the top of this page:

    The photograph of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower speaking to 1st Lt. Wallace Strobel of Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on the eve of D-Day, June 5, 1944, remains one of the most compelling and iconic images of World War II.

    Strobel survived D-Day and World War II, and was discharged from the Army May 1, 1946. He returned to Saginaw where he married his high school sweetheart, raised a family and was a successful businessman. Before his death on Aug. 28, 1999, Strobel prepared an article for the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historical Park in Denison, Texas, about the famous photograph of him talking with Gen. Eisenhower at Greenham Common Airfield in England on June 5, 1944.

    “He (Eisenhower) asked my name and which state I was from,” Strobel related. “I gave him my name and that I was from Michigan. He then said, “Oh yes, Michigan, great fishing there. Been there several times and like it.'”


    It is my understanding that Eisenhower was just chatting with these paratroopers in an attempt to get their minds off of what was going to happen to them in a few short hours. Some of those in the photo would not survive to see another dawn, others would not see the next sunset. They were as ready as they would ever be at that point, and nothing else Eisenhower could say would change any of that – but he could get them to think about something else for a few minutes.

  31. Helen Meade says:

    Eighty years ago today, my uncle, landed on Omaha Beach as a member of the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, who would be given the task of taking Hill 192 – a crucial step in defeating German forces in Normandy. On July 12, 1944, at 19 years old, he gave his life for the freedom of France and the honor of his country. He was awarded a Purple Heart for his sacrifice.

  32. Curtis Rowe says:

    Remembering Howard Gilmer on D-day

    Our family had a good friend from Wyatt Indiana named Howard Gilmer. He would frequently stop at the farm and my brother John and I would go hunting with him. I knew that Howard was a WWII Veteran but one day he told us his story.

    Howard was a part of the D-day invasion group. He was one of the first to arrive and went in on a glider before the troops landed on shore. He was a sniper and his job entailed to come from behind and to help clear a way for the incoming troops.

    Prior to taking off from England, Howard had sat in the front of the glider. His Sargent got on the plane and ordered him to the back. He said, “If we are going to do this, I want to see what’s going on!” Pretty soon the planes took off and they headed out over the dark English Channel towards the French Coast. Just after they cleared the coast line the gliders were let loose and they landed in the fields of Normandy. When Howards glider landed, it hit a windmill and everyone in the front of the glider was killed, including his Sargent.

    The gliders landed in many different spots but the teams grouped up and they made their way back towards the Atlantic Wall. Howard told us that their strategy was to find the officers and they were the main targets. He explained that in order to have a successful invasion that the command structure had to be disrupted.

    After several very tough days, the troops came on shore and Howard and his team were no longer behind enemy lines. Howard ended up fighting the Germans down through St Lo and then turned east where he was a part of the fight to get them out of France.
    Howard told us that once in Germany that his unit came across a concentration camp. He was a part of liberating it and had the unpleasant job of cleaning it up. There were many dead in the camp. Howard showed us pictures that he had taken.

    Many veterans have a difficult time talking about the things that they had seen and done. On this day, however, Howard was quite open to what had occurred and I’m glad he was able to tell us about it.

    I always appreciated the members of the Greatest Generation and guys like Howard that saved the world from evil.

  33. Scott Chafin says:

    My dad finished his sophomore year in 1942, studying mathematics and physics at Southwestern University (and playing on its football team) in Georgetown, Texas, and he went off to join the U.S. Army. Because of his smarts, after basic training, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Signal Corps and sent to Camp Crowder, Missouri where he learned to operate what was then highly technical communications equipment and the massive generators that made them work. I have a photo of him sitting on top of one of those generators in France as if he was driving an 18-wheeler! Because of all the training he had to undergo, he had boarded the Queen Mary, reconfigured as a troop ship, in March of 1945; the war in Europe was over in two months. He was then ordered to the Pacific, but the war there ended before he could depart, and because he had arrived in Europe so late in the war, he did not get back home to Texas until March of 1946, where he was discharged at the rank of “Tec-3,” the same pay grade as a staff sergeant. He resumed his education at Southwestern, married my mother, who had already graduated, and earned his B.S. in mathematics in 1948. He went on to teach math and coach football in various Texas high schools. Because of his four years of military service, he was allowed to fully retire at the age of 60 in 1983. Like a great many of the men in the American military, he was a life-long smoker; cigarettes were actually included in soldiers’ rations. He had half a lung removed the year he retired, and he died at on his 74th birthday in 1997. Many of the men he taught and coached attended his funeral, and he was buried in the large city cemetery in Georgetown; my mother joined him in 2004. The young men and women who fought in World War II, especially those who gave their lives, deserve our deepest esteem. So were those who survived, not knowing whether they would, or what the rest of their lives would be like. All who donned a uniform to defend our country and advance freedom around the world deserve our endless respect.

  34. Lee Scruggs says:

    It is an honor to be the daughter of a man, my father, who taught men to fly various planes to help our forces in the European Theater and the Pacific. The men and women who fought or help save our brave soldiers fight for freedom will always be rememebered by me.

  35. Glen Rogers, Jr. says:

    My Dad, Glen Rogers, Sr. was a member of the 35th Infantry Division in Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army.
    He was exempt from the Draft because he was 35 years old and had a family of wife & 4 kids; but he felt that he needed to do his part to defeat the Nazi’s. He was in several Battles; most notably the Battle of the Bulge. His brother, my Uncle Donald was also in the Army in Europe; and they were most fortunate to meet up for a short visit in Nancy, France. I was 16 years old in 1945 when he returned to his home in Springfield, IL

  36. Noel McKeown says:

    My father, now deceased, enlisted and served in the Pacific theater of WWII as an army combat surgeon. “Mash” it was not! No helicopters; so the usual practice was for doctor and a few corpsmen set up shop about 1/2 – 1 mile behind the front lines. The first order of business after setting up a medical tent was to remove or paint over the Red Cross. Dad slept wearing a loaded 45 pistol adjacent to his loaded carbine. Medics or not, on occasion the weapons were used for their intended purpose!

    The Japanese regarded medical facilities as prime targets, not protected facilities. On one occasion, while trying to finish a surgical procedure, dad was a bit slow getting into a fox hole during an air raid and ended up with bomb shrapnel in both feet and legs. One of the corpsmen helped my dad remove what shrapnel they could and put both feet and lower legs in casts. For a month or so dad operated from his knees using a board stretched between two saw horses. Between adverse effects of the remaining shrapnel and “jungle rot” he spent several weeks, if not months, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in DC. Purple Heart? No way. As a captain he was in command of his small medical unit, and after dealing with far worse battle injuries, and deaths, he would not turn in his own name for what he considered minor injuries.

  37. andiej says:

    Reading these stories makes me so proud to be an American and proud of my fellow Americans. No rhetoric, or nasty political comments , just very personal, inspiring, sad, yet courageous stories about the “Greatest Generation”. Telling your stories ensures that younger generations will know the sacrifices made so they may lead the lives they choose in this great Nation. Telling your stories will keep the souls of those we lost alive and remembered with the pride and dignity they so deserve. Thank you.

  38. Ron Oliver says:

    My father in law Carl Doxsie served under Patton in North Africa, Sicily, D-Day, St Lo, Battle of the Bulge- 7 major campaigns, receiving the Bronze Star. He was in artillery so landed late on the 6th after the beach was secure for the guns. He was one of the men who helped equip the tanks to cut through the hedge rows and he came up with a way to hinge two pieces of plywood together as portable shelters during the Battle of the Bulge for some protection against the cold, many of the men being there without winter gear.
    On another note, my one time neighbor Danny Bettger was in the paratroopers landing behind the lines. He received three purple hearts. Just typical men who stepped up when needed and will never be forgotten.

  39. Lorraine Maves says:

    I wish I could wave a magic wand to have D-Day documentaries be a required course in every high school in the United States for 80 more years.
    They were undoubtedly the greatest generation. What those boys (yes, BOYS) did for us and the western world will most likely never be matched, and I pray for this to be true.

    • Emily Jurasovic says:

      I agree with you Lorraine, this day is very important to our national history and deserves to be taught in all parts of education not just high schools for the next 80 years.

  40. Emily Jurasovic says:

    Hi Frances,
    I am sorry to hear your father’s record were burnt. My Great-Grandfather John Lorrain Reddy was involved in WW2 as but it is unclear whether or not he was involved, he was a navigator in the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force). Unfortunately he left no records behind about where he participated.

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