"The ship made it out to the transport area, 10 miles from the beach, taking water slowly. Our emergency pumps could
not keep ahead of the water. The wounded and dead were transferred to the transport by cargo boom." LCI (L) 85
capsized and a demolition crew set charges to her hull, sending the ship to the bottom of the English Channel
about 10 miles from Omaha Beach.
Remembering A Friend
Lt. j.g. J. Russell Davey Jr., a young medical officer in the 6th Naval Beach Battalion, remembered his friend, Lt.
j.g. Hagerty, in a letter he wrote to Mrs. Hagerty shortly after D-Day. "The greatest blow that I got on D-Day, or
thereafter, was when Johnny Kincaid ... late that evening told me of Jack's contribution to our success," wrote Dr.
Davey. "At first, I just didn't believe it, and my emotions at that time are not expressible - save that my first
thoughts were for you.
Of all the men we left in France, Jack's death symbolizes most for all of us, the great
sacrifices of war.
Virgil Weathers, of Shelby, N.C., a lieutenant junior grade and a beachmaster on D-Day, said he lost several men from
his platoon during the invasion, but the death of one officer affected him greatly. "Well before noon on D-Day, soon
after arriving on shore, I learned that we had lost Jack Hagerty. He was one of the closest friends I had in B
Company. I felt his loss more than any of the other losses. He was platoon commander and beachmaster for B-5
(indicating B Company, 5th Platoon) and I was the same for B-4. He was one of those people you almost instantly
felt like you'd known all your life. I don't think he ever said an unkind word about anybody."
During the invasion, the 6th Naval Beach Battalion lost four officers and 18 enlisted men and had another 12
officers and 55 enlisted men wounded, for a more than 20 percent casualty rate.
Another Navy officer remembered LT. j.g. Hagerty's optimism.
"I remember that Jack's wife was pregnant at the time of the invasion, and he was so definite that everything
would be all right and that he would return to the states to be with his family," said Karl Hein, of Rockford,
a fellow beachmaster with the 6th Naval Beach Battalion. "He had good communication skills and was a fun-loving
person." Lt. j.g. Hagerty's wife gave birth to a daughter, Jackie Ann, in September 1944.
The French government awarded the 6th Naval Beach Battalion the Croix de Guerre with palm for its efforts on Omaha
Beach. However, because of a paperwork snafu, the battalion was not honored by the U.S. government until 2000,
when it finally received the Presidential Unit Citation for the "extraordinary gallantry, heroism and determination
that contributed materially to the capture of Omaha Beach
Lt. j.g. Hagerty's body was first buried in the American Military Cemetery at Brookwood, England, and was returned
to Beardstown in July 1948 and laid to rest in Beardstown City Cemetery.
The greatest monument to Lt. j.g. Hagerty's life can be found near where he gave his life - Omaha Beach. High above
the windswept sands of Omaha Beach, there stands today a concrete and granite memorial to the men of the 5th Engineer
Special Brigade, to which the 6th Naval Beach Battalion was attached.
Below an inscription that reads: "In honor of the valiant Americans of the 5th Engineer Special Brigade who gave their
lives in the assault on this beach on 6 June 1944," is found the name Lt. j.g. Almond L. Hagerty.
A plaque specifically recogmizing the 6th Naval Beach Battalion was added to the memorial June 5, 2001. At the
plaque's dedication, former beachmaster Vaghi quoted President Franklin D. Roosevelt when he said: "The quality
of our American fighting men is not all a matter of training, or equipment, or organization, it is essentially a
matter of spirit. That spirit is expressed in their faith in America." In closing, Mr. Vaghi added: "That was the
faith we had then, and the faith we have today. Thank you. May God bless America."
The reunion of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion "was a chance to connect with the men that served with Jack and, in a
small way, to complete the story about Jack Hagerty and his role in D-Day," said Dr. Daniel. "I have been to Omaha
Beach, seen the white crosses at the cemetery, and even talked to the enemy himself that was there on D-Day. This
former German soldier, Franz Gockel, was stationed on Omaha Beach, and it is very possible that he fired upon the
men of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion and LCI-85. I should add that he gave me a copy of his memoirs (written in
German) inscribed with a quote from Beethoven: "Written in the hope that all men will be brothers."
One week before going overseas, the 30 December 1943 photograph was taken at the Hotel Piccadilly located at 45th
West of Broadway in New York City. Seated left to right is 6th NBB medical officer Dr. Ralph Hall, Marcelia Hall,
Edna-Mae Hagerty, Beachmaster Jack Hagerty and Helen Etzl, wife of Dr. Mike Etzl. A number of the Navy officer's
wives, including Edna-Mae Hagerty, became pregnant before their husbands left for the ETO. Karen Beard and Steve
Daniel are remembering their Uncle Jack Hagerty at the 2002 Atlanta, GA reunion. Wearing the USN red amphibious
patch with a gold eagle, tommy gun and anchor is Pharmacist's Mate Dave Bronson, who represents the 6th NBB in
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