USN Beach Party
Carusi's Thieves
Sailors Dressed Like Soldiers
Heroism at D-Day
Navy Medicine
Casualty Letters
Lt. Len Lewis KIA
Cox Amin Isbir KIA
Beachmaster Vaghi
Navy Radiologist
D-Day Lessons
Bronze Star
Battleship New Jersey
Dr. Lee Parker
BUMED Interview
Congressional Record
Lt. Jack Hagerty
Albert Seychel
Stamp Unveiled
John Gallagher
D-Day Gap Assault
WWII Memorial D-Day + 60
Dr. Richard Borden
Lawrence Powell
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WWII Memorial D-Day + 60  

The National World War II Memorial
D-Day Plus 60 Years ©

Early in the morning on 6 June 1944, the usual crowd of several hundred gathered outside St. Patrick's Cathedral on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue for the first regular Mass. In New York's Times Square, many Americans first learned from electronic bulletins that D-Day had begun. General Eisenhower announced, "The tide has turned … We will accept nothing less than full victory." Although it had not been rung for over 100 years, the fragile Liberty Bell in Philadelphia began ringing, broadcast throughout the nation over NBC radio. President Roosevelt wrote a D-Day prayer he would deliver on the radio. By nightfall, 75,000 grateful New Yorkers had worshipped at St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Statue of Liberty, darkened since the war's early days, was ablaze again - a full 96,000 watts.

Soldiers and beach battalion sailors were threatened with court-marshal for taking diaries or cameras ashore on Normandy D-Day. Photographs were only to be taken by war correspondents and official Army and Navy photographers. Robert Capa's famous photos taken on the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach were some of the invasion's first. Four days later, the Robert Capa photos appeared in LIFE magazine.

LIFE published their 60th anniversary commemorative issue of D-Day, covering June 6 through August 1944 of the invasion. Robert Capa's Easy Red photos appear just as they were printed more than half a century ago. The introduction states, "The Americans who fought in World War II have been called the greatest generation. If this is so, D-Day - with its epic bravery and sacrifice, its brilliant success - might have been the finest minute, the greatest moment."

Seaman First Class Bob Giguere, featured in a D-Day book for children, was invited by his Laconia, NH bookstore to sign copies of D-Day: They Fought to Free Europe from Hitler's Tyranny. Sixty years ago, after surviving the sinking of the LCI(L) 85, seventeen-year-old Giguere waded ashore Easy Red and joined the infantry assault, contributing the capture of Omaha Beach. Bob won three purple hearts during the war and a Silver Star on D-Day.

On the back of LIFE, The History Channel reminds young Americans, "They were asked to save the world by running into the jaws of hell." Amphibious sailors interviewed by The History Channel for a series of D-Day specials include "Easy Red" Beachmaster Joe Vaghi, Coast Guardsmen Ralph Gault, LCI(L) 88, Elmer Carmichael, LCI(L) 85, bulldozer operator Clyde Whirty, Radioman Red Onines and Corpsman Vince Kordack. S1c Bob Watson, RM3c Torre Tobiassen, RM1c John Gallagher and HA2c Richard Borden traveled to France for the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

While Radioman John Gallagher (upper left) was sending critical shore-to-ship messages for Commander Carusi from the Fox Green sector of Omaha Beach, a vicious German artillery attack commenced. Dr. Davey reported, on D+1, Gallagher "had a 3-cm piece of shrapnel enter his face just below the eye, which passed thru the upper part of the maxillary sinus, entered the orbit to sever the optic nerve, and lodged in the petrous part of the temporal bone."

Still filled with shrapnel and wearing a glass eye, Gallagher and shipmate Dr. Richard Borden (upper right) returned to Normandy, by special invitation of the French government, to receive the prestigious Legion of Honor. Founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, it is the highest honor that France can bestow upon those who have achieved remarkable deeds. John Gallagher died five months after receiving the award.

June 6, 2004 represented, for most veterans, their final ten-year D-Day anniversary. Dan van der Vat's D-Day: The Greatest Invasion - A People's History highlights 6th Beach Battalion veterans with the Introduction by John S.D. Eisenhower. IKE's son graduated from West Point on D-Day and confessed, "I have felt a secret discomfort that West Point's Class of 1944 was savoring its graduation at the same time that boys younger than us were clinging desperately to the cliffs of Normandy or sinking in the English Channel, and yet finally pulling themselves together to launch the beginning of the liberation of Europe."

Old D-Day liberators are pictured above. Boatswain's Mate Herb Goodick bids a final farewell to his C-9 platoon commander, Navy Beachmaster Karl Hein (far left). Herb's wife Ruth proudly observes. S1c John Hanley bids farewell to Joe Vaghi III, Comdr. Vaghi's son. Love and many memories are shared with the younger generation in the 6th Beach Battalion Association. John said his affairs were in order and this would be his last reunion.

The Veterans Affairs Department estimates World War II vets are dying at a rate of 1,056 a day - more than 385,000 a year. Fewer than 4 million of the 16 million people who served during the war were alive when the National WWII Memorial was dedicated in Washington D.C. 29 May 2004. Coxswain Ed Marriott and Albert Rinehimer of platoon C-8 represented the 6th Naval Beach Battalion at the memorial dedication. John Hanley died two days after the dedication, on Memorial Day. Gene Cook and Bob Moore died in 2004 before the 6th Naval Beach Battalion "last call" reunion in Peoria, IL. Shipmate Herb Goodick died several months after attending the reunion.

President Bill Clinton signed Public Law 103-32 on 25 May 1993, authorizing the American Battle Monuments Commission to establish a World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is the first national World War II memorial dedicated to the achievement of this nation. The memorial honors the 16 million who served in the U.S. armed forces during WWII, the 400,000 KIA, and the millions of Americans who supported the war effort.

Shortly before the invasion, small boat repair sections were combined into Salvage Group 4 above for the Normandy landings. Living up to their reputation, "Commander Carusi's thieves" had the task of organizing the beach. They desperately needed an Army amphibious "duck" and subsequently appropriated one from Point du Hoc. Sixty years later, Albert Rinehimer explains Salvage Group 4's invasion role to an Army reenactor at the National WWII Memorial Dedication.

John S.D. Eisenhower, son of the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, emphasized, "While a memorial to war, this edifice is more than a tribute to the men and woman of this country whose bloody struggle loosened the world from tyranny. It marks for all Americans the emergence of the United States as the leader of the Free World in the mid-twentieth century."

During the memorial dedication, President George W. Bush proclaimed, "On this Memorial Day weekend, the graves will be visited and decorated with flowers and flags. Men whose step has slowed are thinking of boys they knew when they were boys together. And women who watched the train leave and the years pass can still see the handsome face of their young sweetheart. America will not forget them either. At this place, at this memorial, we acknowledge a debt of long standing to an entire generation of Americans - those who died, those who fought and worked and grieved and went on. They saved our country, and thereby saved the liberty of mankind."

Ed Marriott reflects on his C-8 platoon commander Joe Vaghi, shipmates and Dr. Davey at the National World War II Memorial Dedication 29 May 2004. Marriott's 6th Beach Battalion C-8 platoon was attached to the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, 5th Engineer Special Brigade. The 37th Engineer Combat Battalion was not forgotten when the late President Ronald Reagan made his famous D-Day address on "Easy Red" Omaha Beach 6 June 1984.

40th Anniversary of D-Day
President Ronald Reagan 1911-2004

June 6, 1984
Omaha Beach, Normandy, France

We stand today at a place of battle, one that 40 years ago saw and felt the worst of war. Men bled and died here for a few feet of -- or inches of -- sand, as bullets and shellfire cut through their ranks. About them, General Omar Bradley later said, "Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach that day was a hero."

Some who survived the battle of June 6, 1944, are here today. Others who hoped to return never did.

"Someday, Lis, I'll go back," said Private First Class Peter Robert Zanatta, of the 37th Engineer Combat Battalion, and first assault wave to hit Omaha Beach. "I'll go back, and I'll see it all again. I'll see the beach, the barricades, and the graves."

Those words of Private Zanatta come to us from his daughter, Lisa Zanatta Henn, in a heart-rending story about the event her father spoke of so often. "In his words, the Normandy invasion would change his life forever," she said. She tells some of his stories of World War II but says of her father, "the story to end all stories was D-Day."

"He made me feel the fear of being on the boat waiting to land. I can smell the ocean and feel the seasickness. I can see the looks on his fellow soldiers' faces -- the fear, the anguish, the uncertainty of what lay ahead. And when they landed, I can feel the strength and courage of the men who took those first steps through the tide to what must have surely looked like instant death."

Private Zanatta's daughter wrote to me, "I don't know how or why I can feel this emptiness, this fear, or this determination, but I do. Maybe it's the bond I had with my father. All I know is that it brings tears to my eyes to think about my father as a 20-year-old boy having to face that beach."

The anniversary of D-Day was always special to her family. And like all the families of those who went to war, she describes how she came to realize her own father's survival was a miracle: "So many men died. I know that my father watched many of his friends be killed. I know that he must have died inside a little each time. But his explanation to me was, "You did what you had to do, and you kept on going."

When men like Private Zanatta and all our Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy 40 years ago they came not as conquerors, but as liberators. When these troops swept across the French countryside and into the forests of Belgium and Luxembourg they came not to take, but to return what had been wrongfully seized. When our forces marched into Germany they came not to prey on a brave and defeated people, but to nurture the seeds of democracy among those who yearned to be free again.

We salute them today. But, Mr. President [Francois Mitterand of France], we also salute those who, like yourself, were already engaging the enemy inside your beloved country -- the French Resistance. Your valiant struggle for France did so much to cripple the enemy and spur the advance of the armies of liberation. The French Forces of the Interior will forever personify courage and national spirit. They will be a timeless inspiration to all who are free and to all who would be free.

Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic people who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace.

From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the post-war world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained the peace has been kept.

Today, the living here assembled -- officials, veterans, citizens -- are a tribute to what was achieved here 40 years ago. This land is secure. We are free. These things are worth fighting and dying for.

Lisa Zanatta Henn began her story by quoting her father, who promised that he would return to Normandy. She ended with a promise to her father, who died 8 years ago of cancer: "I'm going there, Dad, and I'll see the beaches and the barricades and the monuments. I'll see the graves, and I'll put flowers there just like you wanted to do. I'll never forget what you went through, Dad, nor will I let any one else forget. And, Dad, I'll always be proud."

Through the words of his loving daughter, who is here with us today, a D-Day veteran has shown us the meaning of this day far better than any President can. It is enough to say about Private Zanatta and all the men of honor and courage who fought beside him four decades ago: We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

President Ronald Reagan died exactly 60 years to the day after Peter Zanatta and Torre Tobiassen (above) made their 1944 cross-Channel trip to France. The National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. symbolizes President Reagan's unforgettable words on the 40th anniversary of D-Day. "We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free."




National WWII Memorial Registry

BM2c George L. Abbott (KIA)

PM3c Charles L. Abel (KIA)

PM3c George Abood

RM3c Gilford R. Albertson (KIA)

SM3c Henry M. Allison

Lt.(jg) James E. Allison (KIA)

HA1c Donald C. Barnes

Lt. Paul L. Borden, Jr., USA (KIA)

HA2c Richard W. Borden

RM3c Edwyn D. Black (KIA)

PM2c Donald A. Burroughs

PM2c Fred G. Camp

CM3c Gino D. Carlucci

Commander Eugene C. Carusi

HA1c David A. Catallo

RM3c Francis J. Collins (KIA)

RM3c John M. Chase (KIA)

RM3c John K. Daly

Lt. J. Russell Davey, Jr.

J. Russell Davey, Sr.

Lt. Michael M. Etzl

Richard W. Exline, 37th ECB

S1c Harold F. Fish

PM3c Dominic P. Fuda

S2c Rosaire Gagne

RM1c John F. Gallagher

Chief Ralph W. Gault, USCG

S1c Joseph F. Geary, Jr.

S1c Robert A. Giguere

S1c Fred C. Glover, Jr.

SM3c Isadore Goldsmith

Cpl. Douglass E. Goodick, USA (KIA)

Coxswain W. 'Herb' Goodick

Chief Hospital Corpsman Richard Grewelle

Lt. Eugene D. Guyton

Lt.(jg) Almond L. Hagerty (KIA)

S1c Alvin U. Hatch, Jr.

Lt. Karl E. Hein

S1c George G. Higgins (KIA)

PM2c John T. Higney

S1c Calvin H. Hoppes (KIA)

RM3c Edward L. Houseman

BM2c Alton E. Hudson (KIA)

SF3c William F. Hutton, Jr.

Coxswain Amin Isbir (KIA)

Lt. John F. Kincaid, Jr. (KIA)

Lt.(jg) Leonard L. Lewis (KIA)

Coxswain Arthur E. Marriott

RM3c Lawrence R. Merideth (KIA)

Cox Warren J. Moran, USCG (KIA)

PhM1c James T. Mortimer

HA1c Virgil Mounts (KIA)

RM2c John N. Murphy (KIA)

PM1c John T. O'Donnell (KIA)

SM3c Richard H. Onines

Lt. Jack S. Parker, USA (KIA)

Lt. J. Lee Parker

PM3c John F. Peterssen (KIA)

SF2c Howard R. Plunkett

SF2 Lawrence M. Powell

PM3c Morris W. Rickenbach, Jr. (KIA)

SF1c John A. Rienstra

SM3c Harold C. Roderick

MoMM2c John F. Rogers

S1c John D. Shrode

RM3c Thomas I. Simmons (KIA)

S1c Rocco Simone, USCG (KIA)

Coxswain Oscar A. Thibodeau

Ensign Daniel L. Spencer

RM3c Torre Tobiassen

Lt. Cmdr. Joseph P. Vaghi, Jr.

Lt.(jg) George L. Wade (KIA)

HA1c Frank H. Walden

S1c Robert L. Watson

George Woodbridge, 336th ECB

S1c John J. Zadrozny










"Memorial at Night" by Richard Latoff / American Battle Monuments Commission











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