This is the history of the US 1st Division, nicknamed the Big Red One, as they landed at Omaha Beach. This book reads like the first thirty minutes of "Saving Private Ryan". As the men go in, you are there vicariously experiencing the terror and chaos; the bravery and sacrifice; the sheer volume of noise and confusion as they struggle forward to get off the beach.
To quote one example..."Tech 5 John Joseph Pinder, a radioman, fully understood the vital importance of his radio equipment. The radio was the key to the unit's communication, and communication was central to command and control, resupply, and fire support. Soon after Pinder left the landing craft and hit the water, a mortar shell exploded, showering the left side of his face with hot fragments. The left side of his face was left hanging and he could see only from one eye. He held his hanging flesh with one hand and gripped the forty-five pound radio set and dragged it to shore. He plunged back in the surf at least three more trips to salvage more floating radio equipment before eventually being caught by a burst of machine-gun fire in both legs.
Despite his wounds Pinder insisted on helping his comrades set up the equipment, not stopping for rest or medical attention. He got hit again and died on the beach. The Army later awarded Pinder a posthumous Medal of Honor."
John F. Kennedy once said, "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it."
Somewhere, Joe Pinder and all of the warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice are nodding.
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