Remembering Operation Overlord

“I know the sorrow this message has brought you and it is my hope that in time the knowledge of [his] heroic service to his country, even unto death, may be of sustaining comfort to you.”

A half day of heroism seventy years ago today put that sentence in 2,500 heart-wrenching War Department letters to wives and mothers across our great country. Nearly two thousand families in Britain and Canada received similar missives.

June 6, 2014, marks the seventieth anniversary of Operation Overlord, more commonly known as D-Day.

Men died in many ways on and before D-Day. Some fell during cliff-climbing exercises on the southern coast of England in the weeks leading up to the invasion. Others died early that morning parachuting in behind enemy lines.

Offshore, heavily armored “swimming tanks” sank. According to one soldier, “Them poor guys, they died like sardines in a can, they did. They never had a chance.”

Then there were the courageous souls aboard the flat-bottomed boats. The watercrafts, designed by Louisiana entrepreneur Andrew Jackson Higgins, were invented to save Mississippi River flood victims. As their ramp doors lowered off the coast of Normandy, the boats did anything but save.

Infantrymen, many grossly seasick from the choppy ride across the English Channel, hopped into frigid, waist-deep water under ominous overcast skies. German machine gun, mortar and artillery fire welcomed them into the water and onto the shore.

“There were bodies floating around, no end of them,” one survivor recounted.

Another remembered, “You couldn’t lay your hand down without touching a body. You had to weave your way over top of the corpses.”

Lt. Col. William Friedman: “Rank had nothing to do with anything on that beach… Not by unit, not by role, everybody individually…did what they had to do… [Men] started yelling, God*****, get up, move in. You’re gonna die anyway, move in and die!”

Void of self, many moved in and died. God rest their souls.

A comrade recalled the scene: “I walked by, oh God, the guys that died that day — all those beautiful, wonderful friends of mine, the day before, the night before, kidding and joking.”

Why did so many have to die?

In short, so that 130,000 infantrymen and 20,000 airborne troops could land safely after them.

In medium, so that a continent could be liberated from a madman.

And, in long, so that you and I could have the freedom to say, write and do what we want.

Lt. Gordon Osland of Michigan was one hero who fell that day. Three days earlier, he had written to his pregnant wife for a final time. He describe her as Sweetheart, Darling, Honey, precious and beautiful. He acknowledged the mission before him but seemed not overwhelmed by it. “I am very calm and not the least bit nervous.”

In a P.S., he asked for her help on one matter: “If anything should happen to me, please pay H.J. the $25 I owe him.” An odd request given the weight of the moment, but also an inside look into a soldier’s honor.

Maybe H.J. stood by her side when the Adjutant General’s letter came two weeks later. I’m quite confident he at least considered the debt paid in full – paid not by U.S. currency but by the blood of a patriot on a beach called Omaha.


Kevin Thompson writes weekly for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. Follow him at

17 Responses to “Remembering Operation Overlord”

  1. 1 jessestroup June 9, 2014 at 15:50

    I am a generation removed from the D Day Soldiers, yet your remembering those soldiers who gave their lives gives me great pause and brings moisture to my eyes. Great having some of yours with us this past weekend. Jesse

    Jesse R. Stroup Director of Spiritual Care Lifeline Chaplaincy 511 N. Akard suite 202 Dallas, TX 75201

  2. 2 July 4, 2014 at 11:28


    In the event recipients of this most valuable Document of Freedom have not yet received it this year, I recommend that you study this bulwark for understanding and discussion with other Patriots. GSC

  3. 3 July 7, 2014 at 22:26

    Excellent!Sent from Xfinity Connect Mobile App

  4. 4 July 8, 2014 at 17:55

     I well remember this true account when I was in the Naval Air Corps years ago.

  5. 5 September 10, 2014 at 21:18

    This will touch your sensibilities and you will enjoy watching to the end. Lucy and I were fortunate enough to attend a live regular presentation by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir one Sunday morning while in Salt Lake City, years ago. GSC

  6. 6 September 15, 2014 at 20:41

    I have been concerned about the Balkanization of our country should the immigrants not want to truly become Americans. Unless we make this a requirement, we will certainly become another European and Balkan Area with the continuing problems.

  7. 7 October 8, 2014 at 10:55

    While we could possibly avoid this pestilence should we respond effectively, it is thought by many that Ebola will ultimately be the thing that destroys the greatest civilization .

    On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 8:49 AM, Bill Chaffin wrote:

  8. 8 October 9, 2014 at 10:58

    Atrocities are moving rapidly into our world, and unless we are prepared to confront this reality, this group of Islamists will take over.

  9. 9 December 1, 2014 at 17:48

    Think. Just who should bear the blamed for the disconnect in this Christmas shopping scene?

  10. 10 December 3, 2014 at 21:40

    Until these unfortunate people rid their leadership from the likes of their present “reverends”, it will require another 150 years to become stabilized.

  11. 11 December 21, 2014 at 21:24

    At 92 years, I have followed the freedoms we enjoy in our country, but never before have I felt that we could lose these freedoms unless we keep close tabs on our leaders. GSC

  12. 12 December 23, 2014 at 11:11

    Uppermost in the minds of patriots is the continuing urge to preserve our freedom. At any time that this determination is lost for any reason, then bondage shall surely ensue. The account presented represents merely the reaction to be expected from the majority of our countrymen should any tyrant attempt to gain control over us. GSC

  13. 13 February 21, 2015 at 15:48

    Our country remains despite these actions. GSC

  14. 14 April 24, 2016 at 09:47

    Unfortunately, most people go through life failing to understand reality.

  15. 15 April 27, 2016 at 09:12

    I would modify the Constitution, if required, in order to be elected.

  16. 16 April 30, 2016 at 16:46

    Did Jimmy Carter actually beat Obama? Not a commendable reflection on the academicians participating.

  17. 17 May 29, 2016 at 09:48

    It isn’t often that one receives objective reporting from the media and this posting further supports this contention.

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