June 6th is a very special day to my generation. This is the anniversary, of the very day in 1944, that was the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
In June of 1944, the largest amphibious invasion in world history took place. The allied forces invaded Normandy, France. It was called D- Day, also known by its code name ‘Operation Neptune’. The landings were conducted in two phases, an airborne assault of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French paratroopers and the amphibious landing of allied infantry and armored divisions. There were two airborne divisions, the 101st and the 82nd , numbering 13,000 paratroopers delivered by 12 troop carriers.
Among the beaches in Normandy, Omaha Beach was the most heavily fortified. Hundreds of the invading soldiers were killed. These beaches are still referred to on maps by their invasion code names. Many of the courageous men of that generation, who were part of that fateful day, were either killed in action or have since passed away.
I have the privilege of having a good friend that survived the war and is still in fit condition at the age of 88. His name is Richard ‘Dick’ Saggau. Dick, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, dropped behind enemy lines into Normandy at 1:22AM on June 6th, 1944. He is one of the few paratroopers who survived. He was later recognized for his heroism by receiving the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star as well as other medals.
I hope Americans will always remember and honor men like Dick.
Dick lost his wife a few years ago and has become a regular at the Jamieson dinner table every Monday evening. He doesn’t talk much about D-Day, but I know he remembers it quite well. So, thank you to Dick, and the very few survivors, for the bravery you displayed on D-Day.
This article has also been published on my blog kidswithoutstuff.com