The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Columns

June 3, 2008

Several area soldiers took part in D-Day

Sixty-four years ago Friday, the largest amphibious military invasion in the history of the world got under way in the English Channel off the coast of France. An Allied armada made up of 700 warships and 2,700 support ships, with 2,500 landing craft, closed in on five landing areas along the Normandy coastline.

American units landed on Utah and Omaha beaches, with British and Canadian units going in on Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. In the first six days of the invasion, the Allies landed 326,000 men, 54,000 vehicles and 104,000 tons of supplies on the beaches.

There were a number of Enid and northwest Oklahomans who were participants in this historic event that signaled the last act in Adolf Hitler’s reign of terror on the European continent. The cost in lost and dismembered lives was awful. Area men who made the later landings remember the bodies of American soldiers stacked on the beaches like cordwood.

A number of soldiers, sailors and airmen from Enid and the surrounding area participated in the historic landings. Some of them gave their lives, and others survived the fighting through the end of the war in Europe nearly a year later on May 8, 1945. Many of those who survived the fighting have now died of natural causes.

The veterans of this huge military operation are fading fast.

Some of those from Enid who survive include James Montgomery, who was a 19-year-old buck private in the 987th Field Artillery. They manned 155 millimeter guns that could fire a 100-pound artillery shell 18 miles. They went in with the British on Gold Beach because the British did not have any big artillery pieces.

They made their landing at 3 in the afternoon, and Montgomery remembers shells exploding and the air being full of tracer bullets as he hunkered down in the landing craft.

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