The Uncommon Lessons of The D – Day Invasion of Europe

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It is easy to get lost in the mass of details and statistics surrounding the D-Day invasion on June 6th, 1944.  It was a massive seas-to-land invasion of soldiers, material, preparation, innovation, and secrecy that were gathered in the United Kingdom and on the Atlantic Ocean to make the invasion successful. 

 

As we remember the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, we need to remember the uncommon and unappreciated moments of history that made the invasion a success.

 

  1. The USS Emmons – A Destroyer in A Direct Ground Support Role. The USS Emmons was one of over 30 Destroyers charged with protecting the invasion convoy from the United Kingdom (UK) across the English Channel to France. The USS Emmons initially supported the invasion with gunfire from about 3,000 yards or about 1.7 miles out to sea. In the late morning of the invasion, the USS Emmons lost contact with their gun fire coordination team on the beach. The Emmons, instead of withdrawing, closed to within 800-1000 yards of the beach (less than ½ mile from shore), and began direct firing naval weapons at enemy defenses. This unheard-of support from the US Navy was critical to overcoming initial defenses at the beach landing sites.

  2. The Jedburgh’s – Chaos in The Countryside. Prior to D-Day, Allied planners dropped 5-person teams by parachute into the French countryside with money, weapons, radios, and explosives to sow destruction and confusion in the enemy rear areas. These five-person teams were the Jedburgh’s or “Jed’s,” a precursor to US Army Special Forces teams. The Jed’s helped organize, equip, direct, and train the French Resistance to conduct sabotage and distraction attacks to delay enemy reinforcements from the beach landing areas.
  3. Brigadier General Theodore "Ted" Roosevelt III – The Power of Leadership. The US invasion of Omaha beach was the most difficult landing site on D-Day. Close to D-Day’s difficulty was Utah beach where Brigadier General “Ted” Roosevelt III, one of the sons of President Teddy Roosevelt, landed. On D-Day, BG Roosevelt III was 56 years old, walked with a cane, and was in the initial landing waves at Utah beach. Roosevelt was essential in directing and organizing the critical ground attacks to get off the beach and was an inspiration moving up and down the beach to rally American attackers. Roosevelt was later recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership on Utah beach.

  4. Right Idea & Wrong Way – Failed Innovation on D-Day. D-Day had lots of great ideas and new technology that failed to perform. Correctly, Allied invasion planners recognized the need to get tanks on the invasion beaches in the very first waves to help soldiers fight their way off the beach. However, the solution was to have the tanks “swim” in surrounded by flimsy canvas skirts and then drive right up on the invasion beaches. Tragically, most of the “swimming” tanks were lost in the sea before they even made the beaches. Some invasion ideas like the floating docks towed from England to Normandy to transform the landing beach into an immediate sea port worked exceptionally well.

  5. Sometimes Hard Is the Only Way Forward. The D-Day beaches, so similar to the beach invasions faced by Marine and Army units in the Pacific, were flush with examples of heroism both large and small. Chaplains administering to the wounded, US Army Rangers climbing the cliffs of Ponte du Hoc under gunfire, or junior Sergeants attacking against desperate odds on Omaha beach, D-Day proved and demonstrated the mettle of US military personnel like few battles before it. Finally, fighting to get off the beach proved to be the first step of millions equally dangerous steps to get to Berlin and finally defeat the Nazi enemy.

June 6th, 1944 is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.  Remember, appreciate, and learn on this very important day.

 

Share Your Opinion – What is a great lesson from the D-Day invasion?

 

 

Related Information:

 

  1. The Number One Thing That I Learned from My Military Service
  2. Pick a Military Role Model For Career Inspiration
  3. Lessons in Appreciating Diversity from World War II
  4. Remember the Lessons of Pearl Harbor
  5. Business Lessons from the D-Day Invasion

About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 400 articles in over 200 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com

2 Comments
hankroe
Contributor

I often see landing craft offloading Marines and Army soldiers when D-Day is commemorated. And I'm eternally grateful for their service. While many of these landing craft were piloted by men of my outfit, I rarely see the U.S. Coast Guard mentioned.  Yet, when I see these craft it's a reminder to me and other Coasties.  

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@hankroe ,

The importance of the US Coast Guard to the success of the 1944 D-Day invasion is a great and lasting point for the recognition of “unknown lessons” from the invasion.  Thank you for posting the lesson in USAA Community for readers and for me!