Friday, June 06, 2008

D-Day really began on 05 June 1044

So today for me is D-Day. Now before everybody jumps all over me for being historically challenged and telling me that most folks celebrate this great day on 06 June instead of 05 June, I must tell you that I was a member of 2 Commando, Canadian Airborne Regiment so for me the real invasion began with a massive airborne assault on the night of 05 June. The assault consisted of the two Airborne Divisions of the United States Army (82nd and 101st), the British Airborne Division, with a small Polish unit attached and the First Canadian Parachute Battalion.

Their collective mission was to disrupt the German command and control centers, cut communication lines to the beaches, seize and hold all bridges for the breakout and tie up and delay German reinforcements. The American part of the jump was scattered and almost disastrous due to ground fire, lost planes and a lack of pathfinders on the ground marking the drop zones while the British and the Canadians had much better luck and managed to take all of their objectives without much fuss.

In the morning, troops from the US, Britain and Canada stormed their respective beaches (Within the 2 lead Canadian divisions there was also a British brigade of Royal Marines) and after a horrific day of fighting took the beach head and moved inland anywhere from a few hundred yards to 10 miles (the deepest penetration of the day). With the exception of one lone Canadian infantry battalion nobody reached their objectives and for a period of a few days it was in serious doubt it the Allies could hold their grip on continental Europe but they did and as we know from history and some fantastic Hollywood productions such as the classic “The Longest Day” from which the former Canadian Airborne Regiment took it’s marching song to the more recent “Saving Private Ryan” which not only gripped us all with the opening scene showing the horrors faced by US soldiers landing under fire but also showed us how the brave Airborne troops that expected to be relieved after 3-4 days were still holding on two weeks later waiting for help.

In the aftermath of WW II, D-Day has been judged a great success mainly because at the end of the day regardless of the tactical mistakes, the tremendous loss of life or the sheer luck that Hitler was asleep and his aides refused to wake him prematurely ensuring that an entire SS Panzer Division wasn’t moved into the fight until heavy equipment was ashore, we won the day and eventually the Normandy beach head became the Normandy breakout and led down the road to winning the war in Europe.

So to all those who have decided Iraq and Afghanistan are failures I suggest that it’s very difficult to judge a war in the middle of a battle. Had the current liberal media had today’s modern tools of communication and witnessed and reported on D-Day and those precarious couple of weeks after the landings, I wonder how the rest of the war would have been reported or perceived by the US public not to mention, the Battle of the Bulge and several other setbacks during the road to victory.

Today’s Democrats working with a very left leaning anti-war movement have driven the American spirit closer and closer towards being one of pessimism believing that any delay in victory or set back along the way means we have failed or are losing and must come home immediately.

While no one can dispute in hindsight that every war could be fought better, with less loss of life and perhaps even quicker it’s only the fool who in the middle of the battle declares either victory or defeat. While both Afghanistan and Iraq have a ways to go, they are safer and freer than they’ve been in decades and are moving in the right direction just like that amazing collection of Allies that slowly began working their way towards Berlin 64 years ago today.
To those who landed on 05-06 June 1944 by parachute or landing craft thank you for being brave enough to fight for all of us.

To those who fight the war on terror today thank you for volunteering to follow in the footsteps of great and noble men and woman and for doing so capably and honorably.

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