Men of D-Day


    
 Troop Carrier
Michael N. Ingrisano
Robert E. Callahan
Benjamin F. Kendig
John R. Devitt
Arthur W. Hooper
Ward Smith
Julian A. Rice
Charles E. Skidmore
Sherfey T. Randolph
Louis R. Emerson Jr.
Leonard L. Baer
Robert D. Dopita
Harvey Cohen
Zane H. Graves
John J. Prince
Henry C. Hobbs
John C. Hanscom
Charles S. Cartwright
 
 82nd Airborne
Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr.
Marie-T Lavieille
Denise Lecourtois
Howard Huebner
Malcolm D. Brannen
Thomas W. Porcella
Ray T. Burchell
Robert C. Moss
Richard R. Hill
Edward W. Shimko
 
 101st Airborne
John Nasea, Jr
David 'Buck' Rogers
Marie madeleine Poisson
Roger Lecheminant
Dale Q. Gregory
George E. Willey
Raymond Geddes
 
 Utah Beach
Joseph S. Jones
Jim McKee
Eugene D. Shales
Milton Staley
 
 Omaha Beach
Melvin B. Farrell
James R. Argo
Carl E. Bombardier
Robert M. Leach
Joseph Alexander
James Branch
John Hooper
Anthony Leone
George A. Davison
James H. Jordan
Albert J. Berard
Jewel M. Vidito
H. Smith Shumway
Louis Occelli
John H. Kellers
Harley A. Reynolds
John C. Raaen
Wesley Ross
Richard J. Ford
William C. Smith
Ralph E. Gallant
James W. Gabaree
James W. Tucker
Robert Watson
Robert R. Chapman
Robert H. Searl
Leslie Dobinson
William H. Johnson
 
 Gold Beach
George F. Weightman
Norman W. Cohen
Walter Uden
 
 Juno Beach
Leonard Smith
 
 Sword Beach
Brian Guy
 
 6th Airborne
Roger Charbonneau
Frederick Glover
Jacques Courcy
Arlette Lechevalier
Charles S. Pearson
 
 U.S.A.A.F
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
 
Civils
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
 

 

James H. Jordan
Pfc, 1st platoon, L Co, 3rd Bn, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division

On June 6, 1944, I was a 22-year-old Private First Class who was a member of the First Division, 16th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, L Company, 1st Platoon. I was on the first wave of the assault and landed on Omaha Beach.

At about 4:00 A.M. on the morning of June 6th, we began boarding the landing crafts (ours was designated an LCA) that would take us to the shore. Each had thirty men on board. For the assault, I carried thirty pounds of TNT, twenty clips of ammunition, a combat vest, pills, K-rations, special clothing in case of a gas attack, a shovel, and a lot of other equipment that I can no longer remember. In all, the gear weighed about 75 pounds while I weighed 170. We were told we would have to run across three hundred yards of open beach while under machine gun and artillery fire, and we knew that casualties would be high. I was a member of a demolitions squad consisting of five soldiers and our assignment was to destroy the concrete bunkers built into the beach from which German machine guns fired.

Once on board, our LCA was lowered into the water, which was very rough. One of the LCA's from our ship capsized just after it entered the water and six of the men were drowned. Once our boat was in the water, we proceeded to the staging area where we circled for about an hour or more, until all of the landing craft were ready for the assault.

Once all landing crafts were on line, the order for the invasion to begin was given and we headed for the beach. To both my right and left and as far as I could see, landing crafts were headed at full speed to the Normandy coastline. With the sun rising, it was a remarkable sight. Almost immediately, we came under fire.

Within minutes, for some reason, our boat started to take on water and we began to lag behind the other landing crafts. About seventy-five yards from the shore, with our boat sinking, our Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Kenneth Klink, gave the order to abandon ship. Just as he gave the order, we took a direct hit by an artillery shell to the middle of the craft, killing a number of men instantly. The ramp was dropped and those who were able began to get out. Several more men were killed or drowned as they exited the front of the boat. Some men climbed over the side. I had been seated in the back of the boat and attempted to get out the front. In order to make it to the exit ramp, I had to step over the bodies of my fellow soldiers and friends who were now lying dead on the floor of the boat. As I got close to the ramp I was hit by a large wave that knocked me all the way to the back of the boat. Again, I made my way to the front and managed to leave the boat just as it was sinking behind me. I was the last man off.

As I stepped off, another large wave hit me and I went completely under the water. With the weight of all the gear on my back, I began to sink fast and knew that I was about to drown. Fortunately, I was able to get my pack off and reach the surface of the water. I then swam to shore. As badly as things had begun for me, once I made it to the beach, it got worse.

The entire beach was a killing field. Artillery and machine gun fire were exploding all around me. Men were lying dead and wounded on the beach. Since I had lost my rifle along with my gear, I picked up a rifle lying on the beach and began running forward with the aim of reaching a three to four foot high sea wall about two hundred yards inland. Because I no longer had the heavy pack on my back, I was able to cover a lot of ground fast. As I was running across the beach, machine gun bullets began whizzing past me and hitting the ground just inches from my feet. Thinking that a German machine gunner had me as a target, I hit the ground. I laid there motionless, hoping the German machine gunner would think he had killed me and stop firing in my direction. It must have worked because the bullets that had been landing right next to me stopped. After a few seconds on the ground, I got up and continued running. Just as I got to within about twenty feet of the sea wall, an artillery shell passed over my head and landed about fifteen feet behind me. As I heard the shell pass over my head, I immediately hit the ground again. The shrapnel from the explosion passed over me but hit five men who had just reached the sea wall in front of me. Two of the men were killed instantly and three were wounded, including our company commander, Captain John Armellino, who subsequently lost his leg as a result of the explosion. I got up again and ran the remaining distance to the sea wall and the minimal shelter that it offered. Somehow I had made it across the beach. Of the thirty men from my landing craft, only twelve were now left. The invasion had been underway for about an hour.

I then discovered the rifle I had picked up from the beach wouldn't fire, probably due to being clogged with sand. I picked up a second rifle that was on the beach close to the sea wall. This one wouldn't fire, either. After the third rifle I found wouldn't fire, I realized I would have to clean it in order to have a functioning weapon. So, while still behind the sea wall, I stripped down the M-1 and cleaned the trigger housing with a toothbrush that I still had from one of my pockets. That one worked.

Lieutenant Klink, who had also successfully crossed the beach, took charge of what was left of our platoon and we began climbing a hillside in an attempt to accomplish the mission. After proceeding a short distance, we had to retreat back to the beach because the hillside was on fire and there was no way forward. As we were returning, I pointed out an area to Lieutenant Klink where I had seen Lieutenant Montieth's 2nd Platoon, also of L Company, go to get off the beach. (Lieutenant Montieth was to be killed a few hours later. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism that day.) Lieutenant Klink decided that we would proceed in the same direction.

As we started to climb the hillside, we were blocked from advancing by a heavy mass of barbed wire. I went back down to the beach where I was able to find a bandoleer torpedo and returned with it to our position. We then used the torpedo to detonate the obstacle and, with our path cleared, continued our advancement.

Soon after we began to move forward again, we became engaged in a hand grenade battle with the Germans at the top of the ridge. Because of the steepness of the hill, most of the grenades the Germans were throwing would roll down the hill past me before exploding. Unfortunately, one didn't. One grenade rolled to within less than ten feet of me and the explosion blew me completely off the ground. I was thrown about five feet in the air and landed hard on my back. As I was getting up, I heard Lieutenant Klink give the order to fix bayonets. We then continued up the hillside and a short time later knocked the Germans out and secured the area. It wasn't until then that I realized I had been wounded by shrapnel in my left leg from the grenade. A medic treated my wounds and that night I was evacuated off the Normandy beach to a hospital ship.

At the start of the day, my company consisted of one hundred and eighty-seven men. By nightfall, only seventy-nine were left. For me, the day had been frightening, exhausting and painful in many ways. Yet, I was more fortunate than many others - I had survived.

James H. Jordan     (March 28, 2003)

P.S. To Patrick Elie: Thank you. I am honored that someone from France would take the time to inquire of my experiences that day. -- James H. Jordan

Note from Jackson H. Jordan: For his actions at Normandy on June 6th, 1944, my father was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. In July 1944, after recovering from his wounds at Normandy, he rejoined his unit at St. Lo, France where he was again wounded, this time severely. He was evacuated to England and eventually back to the United States where he spent approximately one year recovering in a hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Today, he lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Submitted by Jackson Jordan, March 28, 2003)