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June

06

1984

June 06, 1984



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Diary Entry - 06/06/1984

Wednesday, June 6, 1984

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The 40th anniversary of the landing on D. day. We helicoptered across the channel. First stop was Pointe du Hoc where 40 yrs. ago our Rangers—225 of them climbed the 100 foot sheer cliff to establish a position. Only 90 were still combat able by the 2nd day. We met 62 who had returned for this anniversary. I addressed them & the large crowd. It was an emotional experience for everyone. Nancy & I went into the massive concrete pill box from which the Germans had 1st seen at daybreak the 5000 ships in the invasion fleet. Walter Cronkite did a 5 min. T.V. interview with me—then we flew to Omaha beach. This was the heart breaker—row on row of white marble crosses (& stars of David) more than 9000 of them. We have a picture of one—the grave of our Ann’s brother we’re giving to her. Pres. of France Mitterrand arrived. Together we placed wreaths at the monument then I spoke. My speech contained many quotes from a letter I’d received a few days before the trip from a young lady whose father landed on D. Day. All her life she had heard his stories of what the day had meant to him. A few years ago he died of Cancer. He’d always said one day he would return to Omaha beach. She promised she’d do it for him. We made it possible for the family to be there. I had difficulty getting through my speech. From there it was on to Utah beach. This was the biggest affair. Pres. Mitterrand made the only speech but on the beach were mil. formations of Ours, the French, English, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands & Canada. All the heads of state of those countries were there. The crowd was tremendous in size. British & American naval forces were off shore. One of ours was the aircraft carrier Eisenhower. On the way back our helicopter circled her while I addressed the 5000 crew members by radio. They were drawnup on the deck in a formation that spelled Ike.