Nostalgia USA June 2016 Nostalgia USA June 2016 - Page 14

HowTheNavySavedD-Day By Edward G. Simmons As a historian, I have read a lot about our war against H itler in Europe and thought I knew about D-Day. I am among those who watch the movie T he Longest Day (1962) whenever it is on television. T he many human stories of those who braved the beaches or parachuted further inland are inspiring, especially since they are based on interviews with participants in the invasion. T he story of the terrible situation on O maha Beach was repeated in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (1998), which created an even more realistic experience of what it was like to be pinned down under the cliffs of O maha Beach. T hese movies give an impression that D-Day was mostly about the men who landed on the beaches - a story centered on the armies of the countries which landed that day. O f course everyone knew the N avy ferried troops and supplies to the beaches. T he idea of the N avy playing a central role was parodied in T he Americanization of Emily (1964) as an admiral decides the N avy is being overlooked and wants the first dead man on O maha Beach to be a sailor. What made the admiral's orders crazy was that the planning for D-Day virtually guaranteed the first casualties of the invasion would be N avy personnel whose job was to disable mines and clear obstacles so that soldiers and vehicles could make it to the beach. A little thought brings to mind the realization that soldiers, their vehicles, and all the supplies needed by fighting men arrived on the coast of N ormandy by ship. Craig Symonds, retired from teaching history at Annapolis, makes us aware that the N avy played a far more significant role in the success of the N ormandy invasion than has been generally recognized. During a key hour when everyone was pinned down on O maha Beach, ships provided fire power that was crucial in getting troops headed inland. T he