Commentary

June 6, 2014

This Week in History

Rick Griset
56th Fighter Wing Historian

D-Day: Off the Normandy coast, Soldiers crowded in a landing craft June 6, 1944, await their turn to land on the beach.

June 6, 1944: Operation NEPTUNE (D-Day)

The largest invasion in world history occurred 70 years ago today on the Normandy Peninsula in France, code named Operation NEPTUNE. It is often simply referred to as D-Day.

More than 134,000 men hit the beaches that became world famous by their code names Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, Sword Beach and Pointe du Huc. Another 24,000 paratroopers jumped or glided in behind the beaches.

Allied planning began many months before complete with isolation plans, diversion plans, and fake armies and naval fleets. The Allies had already successfully waded ashore in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

Planners wanted the Germans to think the Allies would land near the Pas de Calais in France. That location was the closest point to England. Instead, planners chose an area about 150 miles to the southwest for the actual landings. The landing beaches ran in a general east-west direction. The invasion fleet landed from the north during a slight break between North Atlantic storms.

Allied airpower’s job for the previous month or so had been to isolate the beachhead. Prior to D-Day, those attacks were made further away from the actual landing zone. The Allies wanted to disguise the invasion’s location so the Germans would continue to think that Pas de Calais was the landing site. But, on D-Day airpower almost completely isolated the landing beaches.

Starting with the landing of the P-47s on the night of June 5, 56th Fighter Group ground crews lived on caffeine, nicotine and adrenalin for the following 48 hours. That night, Wolfpack maintenance crews painted the wide black and white invasion stripes on the P-47s’ wings and fuselage. They made sure the aircraft were preflighted, loaded and after each sortie repaired, so they could return to the air.

For its part, the 56th FG flew seven missions that day. All group missions were north of the landing zones. The task of the first two missions was to intercept the German bombers stationed in Norway if they chose to try to hamper the invasion. The rest of the missions involved working over air-to-ground targets. For the most part, the Luftwaffe did not make an appearance.

However, the next day the Luftwaffe made up for their inaction. June 7 saw plenty of action. Zemke’s Wolfpack flew eight missions that day. While they destroyed 12 enemy aircraft, they lost five aircraft, and three pilots were killed. The Luftwaffe still had some fight left.

There are many books and also a number of movies that cover the events surrounding D-Day. For preinvasion planning and decisions see “Ike: Countdown to D-Day.” Classic films about the landings include “The Longest Day,” “Darby’s Rangers,” “Band of Brothers,” and “Saving Private Ryan.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
5-Heart

Your heart in good hands

An electrocardiogram machine monitors a heartbeat Sept. 9 at Luke Air Force Base. The 56th Medical Operations Squadron Cardiopulmonary Clinic offers diagnostic testing and management of cardio or pulmonary diseases. As one walk...
 
 

Street Beat

The 56th Security Forces Squadron handled the following incidents Sept. 8 through 14: Tickets Security forces issues citations for 14 moving violations and two nonmoving violations. Traffic-related incidents Sept. 8: Security forces responded to a report of a two-vehicle accident near Bldg. 1550. Driver one struck driver two when trying to make a U-turn to...
 
 

September: Suicide Prevention Month — Be a life saver

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business and anyone can help save a life. One of the first steps in preventing suicide is to talk about it. The word ‘suicide’ evokes different emotions in people such as anger, sadness, confusion and anxiety. As a result, people are often hesitant or unable to talk about it and can...
 

 

Air Force News – September 19, 2014

England The first wheelchair rugby game during the 2014 Invictus Games in London went to the United States as they grabbed an early lead and never relinquished it. USA Team beat Australia 14-4 to advance in the tournament. Cameroon Military leaders of 17 African nations and the U.S. gathered for the fourth annual African Air...
 
 

Dollars and Sense

Planning for retirement is like taking a promotion test. Early preparation can improve success, and a strong test score opens doors for your future. It’s never too soon to think about test studying, and it’s never too early to think about retirement savings. Small decisions made in one’s 20s can make huge differences in life...
 
 

People First – September 19, 2014

Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story. AF survey...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin