Thursday, June 05, 2014

Honoring the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Seventy years ago, on June 6, 1944, my late father, Edward Adelbert Slavin, Sr. was in St Mere Egelise, Normandy with the 82nd Airborne Division. It was the first town in France that was liberated from the Nazis. In his honor, we fight for freedom daily here in America. And in the words of Hans Blix, like any good diplomat, "we won't take no for an answer." (My late friend Stetson Kennedy, who infiltrated and reported upon the KKK in Georgia and Florida, called me a "freedom fighter.")

From Military History Online:

Ste Mere-Eglise
Ste Mere-Eglise stood in a pivotal location between Cherbourg and Caen whose capture fell to the 82nd Airborne. Unfortunately, sections of two planeloads of parachutists (2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 505th Parachute Infantry) were dropped directly over the village. To make the decent even worse, a farmhouse had caught fire either from tracers or the preceding aerial bombardment and illuminated the entire surrounding sky - making perfects targets out of the descending paratroopers. Many were killed on their way down, at least two were drawn into the fire itself, and many more were killed by the Germans after becoming entangled in trees and roofs. The few who did make it alive to the ground were almost immediately taken prisoner. After the initial excitement, curiously, the Germans went back to bed after the immediate threat subsided.

The commander of 3rd Battalion, 505th, Lt. Col. Ed Krause, had landed one mile west of the village and quickly began gathering stray men. Within an hour, he had managed to round up around 180 men and began heading straight into the village. As mentioned above, after all the immediate paratroopers were either killed or captured, and the fire had been put out, the German garrison went back to bed. Krause entered the town unhindered and was shown the German billets by a local Frenchman whom they ran across. 30 Germans were captured and about 10 were killed - while others fled to the nearby woods. By 6 A.M. Krause had secured the village and thus, cut off German communication and the main route between Cherbourg and the rest of the German Army.

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