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Old November 13th, 2002, 03:55 PM
N.I.C.E. Labs N.I.C.E. Labs is offline
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I know that Veteran's Day is passed, but I also know of the military presence we have among the members of the board. To them I wanted to say that you have my highest respect. My father was honored this past holiday because of the service he gave to his country. He wrote a speech for the occasion and to honor him and to honor you, I'd like to share it:
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D-Day. June 6th, 1944, when the invasion into German occupied France began at the Normandy beaches by the Allied Forces after two years of planning and preparation.

I was part of that invasion force. Trained as a heavy machine gunner and rifle sharpshooter, I was with the Initial Assault Force “O” of the 16th Regimental Combat Team of the First Infantry Division. We loaded onto a LCT, a landing craft designed to carry tanks, and left from Portland Harbor, England at 3:45am, June 5th, 1944. I spent all day and all night seasick, cold, and wet as we waited for the High Command to give the go-ahead for the morning of June 6th. We were given a cup of soup as our only meal for the day, extra ammunition and hand grenades, and then we bowed our heads and prayed.

We felt the vibrations and heard the sounds from the air and naval bombardment and at H-Hour-plus thirty minutes when we approached our assigned area to touch down there was confusion. The light tanks that were to hit the beach first had been knocked out, the combat engineers had been killed or pinned down before they could clear the mined barricades, and the Landing Ship Infantry had been hit on it’s port side as it pulled in to unload and the water was running red with blood.

We moved East to the junction of Easy Red and Fox Green sectors and made a run for the beach through a cleared area the engineers had made at low tide while the obstacles were still visible. We hit a mine, but still made a dry landing. About this same time I saw three or four small boat loads of infantry coming in to the east, which was on our left and another boat came in on our right, but they did not have the armor protection from small arms fire that we had. We unloaded and took our four half-tracks (M-16 Gun Motor Carriages, each with four .50 caliber machine guns) inland, firing as we went until we were stopped by the 4 1/2 to 5 ft. rock shingle. We had no protection from mortar drops and very soon the Germans had direct hits on the #1 and #3 M-16s, killing or wounding all of both crews. I kept firing #2’s guns until I ran out of ammunition then we unloaded and became infantry.

I will not report on any particular second, minute, or hour which still causes bad dreams, but I will say I was wounded with a penetrating mortar fragment into my left hip area that took too field dressing bandages to fill the hole and control the bleeding and get me back to the job I had to do--the command post. We hadn’t been able to knock it out with our machine guns or even a destroyer strike from offshore.

I crawled east a few yards through the grass and brush until spotted by a rifleman who put a hole in my gas mask that was strapped to my side. I quickly rolled into a latrine that served the German soldiers from the ridge above. Filthy, yes, but it was also the safest ready-made foxhole for me on the beach from which I could use my rifle grenades and rifle. After about ten to fifteen minutes I crawled out and moved east a little further for a clearer direct shot at the snorkel type periscope when it was raised up for a look out of the underground concrete observation/fire command post. The post was still 150 yards away, but when the periscope came up I squeezed off a shot from my M-1 with a solid hit that knocked out the scope. Without the scope the command post could not tell the the artillery and mortars where to aim so they fell silent. When they finally did resume firing they were far less accurate.

Late morning I was seeing a few men from the 16th RCT moving in above me from the east Fox Green landing, and I had heard that some light tanks had landed on the east part of Fox Green. They had the high ground and that was a good sight to see for at that time we had lost twenty-three men and one officer from our combat force. I had been hit twice and couldn’t go on past the first pillbox bunker, my last objective. I waited for the medics and the next day, D + 1, a return trip to England in the late afternoon. After three surgical operations and convalescing for a time I returned to serve in many engagements throughout the War in Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge.

I witnessed the killing or wounding of hundreds of men that D-Day on Easy Red (which was more blood red than easy) and Fox Green sectors of Omaha Beach, Normandy, France. There are those who served and served well in war as administrators and support personnel, but there are also those whose service was experienceing war in combat, up close. These soldiers will tell you “War is Hell”. Don’t forget it!

Thomas M. Macdonnell ASN 17132441
2nd Plat. Battery A: 467AAA AW Bn, S.P.

PFC on D-Day....S/Sgt when discharged
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-Now I lay me down to bed. Darkness won't surround my head, I can see by infrared. How I hate the night.
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