Old Sarge: The Day Freedom Slammed into Hitler’s Atlantic Wall

June 6, 2015

Forrest L. Gomez, affectionately known as ‘Old Sarge,’ is an author, historian, Vietnam veteran, and dear friend. This is his contribution to, commemorating D-Day, 71 years ago.



Many historians call it the most pivotal and most important battle in the history of the human race. Today, we observe the anniversary of D-Day, the sixth of June, 1944, when the fate of the free world hung in the balance, as about 180,000 Americans, British, Canadians, and Free French slammed themselves against Hitler’s Atlantic Wall and the most disciplined and ruthless army in history.

Some of you have heard the story I am about to tell, so if you’re bored, by all means go read the postings of others. But I am always moved to share my memories of a priceless documentary I watched on television on June 6, 1964, twenty years after the D-Day landings.

The world was quite different then than what we see now. The nation was still mourning the loss of a president from the demented actions of a failed Marxist, and the Gulf of Tonkin Incident had not yet turned our very young lives upside down. Before you jump in, I am asking the conspiracy buffs out there to please keep your assertions to yourself, for that is not the direction of my particular thoughts this day.

The documentary I am referring to was a black and white presentation, with former President Dwight D. Eisenhower walking on Omaha Beach with Walter Cronkite. Keep in mind that this was four years before Cronkite would be the first well-known American to surrender in Vietnam.

President Eisenhower, who was commander of Allied forces in World War II in Europe (as most of you know), talked forcefully and enthusiastically about that day twenty years before, and it made me feel like the battle had just happened. But the main thing I remember is how he explained how the forces on Omaha Beach were pinned down by some of the greatest firepower encountered by an attacking force in the history of warfare. Eisenhower then went on to explain how it was the sergeants, corporals, low-ranking officers and individual privates and privates first-class who got others up off the ground and moving up the incredibly steep and fire-swept heights. These heights would cost one American life for every foot advanced.

The thing that stands out in my mind is that President Eisenhower took no credit for his own constructive leadership, nor for the intricate staff planning prior to the invasion. All credit and glory was for the guys with the boots on the ground on the invasion beaches that incredible day. A thinking person is forced to compare the narcissistic and self-indulgent president we have now, as well as Bill Clinton before him, who makes all public and political events about himself, with the help of the media. One would think in retrospect that Obama led the attack on Osama bin Ladin’s hideout personally, all things considered.

There are more than twenty sets of twins, more that thirty father and son pairs, and more than fifty pairs of brothers buried in the Normandy cemeteries. Others who had been poets, writers, and specialists in their fields lay there as well, a beautiful place for their remains to spend eternity. Brothers and sisters, please don’t let their sacrifices be forgotten, I beg you! It doesn’t take much thought to remember all of the things their courage and valor bought for us and the future.

May the Prince of Peace be with all of you all the days of your lives, my brothers and sisters, and may He help settle troubled hearts and heal those of you who are sick or injured.

Shalom to our Jewish brothers and sisters! –

The Sarge

Reposted with permission of the author on  6/6/15

**Eds Note: Graphic Content** American and German soldiers who paid for the invasion of France with their lives lie on the French ground covered with sheets, awaiting burial on June 12, 1944. (AP Photo/Pool/Acme, Brandt)

(AP Photo/Pool/Acme, Brandt)

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