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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Man Behind the Gun, the Eugene Stoner Stories – Presented by the Institute of Military Technology

Friday, June 14th, 2019

Eugene Stoner’s #1 and prototype firearms like they have never been seen before with depth and clarity made possible by new digital camera technology.

Shared to the public for the first time, Mr. Stoner himself speaks of his personal path and a few of the stories behind some of his historic and groundbreaking designs.


Happy 244th US Army!

Friday, June 14th, 2019

I’d like to wish all of my fellow Soldiers, past and present, a joyful 244th birthday. You’ve remained a steadfast pillar of American society, because of the men and women who have served this great nation.

US Army photo by SPC Dana Clark

What Americans Looked Like to Warsaw Pact Forces

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

Soldiers of the US Army, patrolling the German/Czech border.

Photos were taken by a Czech Pioneer Service Guard.

You Never Know Where They’ll Show Up

Friday, June 7th, 2019

SSD Reader J was on Omaha Beach, observing the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

75 Years Ago Today…

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

America and her allies assaulted fortress Europe. Within a year, Germany would be defeated.

Tonight Is The Night Of Nights

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

This is the “Tonight is the night of nights” speech which was read aloud to the 506th PIR, 101st AB at the departure airfields on the eve of D-Day, 5th June 1944. Written by Col Robert Sink. Thank God for men like this.


Soldiers of the regiment: June 5, 1944 – D-DAY

Today, and as you read this, you are en route to that great adventure for which you have trained for over two years.

Tonight is the night of nights.

Tomorrow throughout the whole of our homeland and the Allied world the bells will ring out the tidings that you have arrived, and the invasion for liberation has begun.

The hopes and prayers of your dear ones accompany you, the confidence of your high commanders goes with you. The fears of the Germans are about to become a reality.

Let us strike hard. When the going is tough, let us go harder. Imbued with faith in the rightness of our cause, and the power of our might, let us annihilate the enemy where found.

May God be with each of you fine soldiers. By your actions let us justify His faith in us.

Colonel Robert Sink Regimental Commander, 506th P.I.R, 101st Airborne Division

SCUBAPRO Sunday – D-Day Navy Combat Demolition Units, The Frogmen of D-Day

Sunday, June 2nd, 2019

When the U.S. entered WWII, the Navy knew it would need men that would have to go in to reconnoiter the landing sites, locate and destroy obstacles and defenses. The Army and Navy established the Amphibious Scout and Raider School at Fort Pierce, Florida in 1943 to train men in the specialty of amphibious raids and tactics. Most of these men used their skills throughout North Africa, the Pacific, and the Normandy landings. In 1943, the Navy created a large dedicated force for this task called the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, or NCDU, that were also trained at Fort Pierce, Florida.

The Navy had a significant role in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion. However, long before that day, the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) had to perform pre-invasion recons of the beaches and shore placements, even going as far as to bring buckets of sand back to make sure the beach could support the specialized amphibious tanks that would go ashore to provide close-in gun support. The Navy’s role in D-day was to provide shore bombardment, the follow-up gunfire support, plus transporting and landing many of the Army troops who stormed ashore.

The Naval Beach Battalions were naval elements of the Army Engineer Special Brigades for the invasion of Normandy. NCDUs were formed up about one year before D-Day. They were made up of 1 officer and 5 enlisted men. They trained alongside the Scouts and Raiders at Fort Pierce. They were organized by Lt. Cdr. Draper Kaufman, an explosives expert, with the specific goal of clearing beach obstacles.

In Late 1943, 10 NCDUs had arrived in England from Fort Pierce, FL, to meet and train with their British counterparts for future missions. In early 44, the units split and joined with the 2nd, 6th, and 7th USN Beach Battalions, the organizations, set up to coordinate and facilitate the Army landings. At this time, eight additional six-man units arrived from the U.S. to be split among the Beach Battalions.

The NCDU men were not the Frogman you would see in the movies of the same name. They were more like the man you would see in the movie Carlson’s Raiders. They mainly operated from rubber rafts and were not expected to spend long periods in the water. They wore fatigues, combat boots, and steel helmets. The men were in excellent physical condition but operated mainly in shallow water.

The more recons that were done on Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” showed it becoming more formidable by the months. So as new personal from Ft Peirce arrived and the subsequent arrival of some Army Combat Engineers enabled each of the NCDUs to double in size. In April, of 44 the officers leading the Navy units and their Army counterparts were briefed about a hypothetical long, wide gradual sloping sand beach with a 25-foot tide change.

On that beach, and extending into the surf, they could expect minefields and a variety of devilishly designed obstacles placed to block and cripple landing craft. To clear the beach, the invasion planners envisioned an aerial and naval bombardment sweeping the coastline. Then the initial wave of infantry, supported by specially designed amphibious tanks, would land during low tide after dawn and rush to secure the beaches. Following in their wake, the NCDUs would land with a mission to blow a 50-yard gap in the German obstacles and place markers so landing craft coming in later that morning at high tide would have a straight, unobstructed path leading to the beach.

The Americans were assigned beaches “Utah” and “Omaha.” At 0630, H-Hour, on the morning of June 6, 1944, 11 NCDUs came in with 8th Infantry Regiment at Utah. With the Army securing the beach, the Navy demolition men went to work and quickly blew eight 50-yard gaps and had enough time to expand one gap to 700 yards. This allowed successive waves of troops, ashore and quickly secured a substantial beachhead by midday.

Four sailors were killed on Utah, and 11 others were wounded. Because of their efficient work, the units on Utah beach received a Navy Unit Commendation.

At Omaha, the Germans were better entrenched and had built a more robust network of obstacles. Sixteen teams, each with 7 Navy and 5 Army engineers tasked with clearing fifty-foot-wide corridors through the beach obstacles. One of the first teams ashore was wiped out as it landed, and another lost all but one man as it prepared to set off its lengths of twenty-pound explosive charges. Casualties were appalling: of the 175 NCDU men at Omaha, thirty-one were killed and sixty wounded—a 53 percent loss rate. It also didn’t help that the pre-invasion air and sea bombardments mostly missed their marks. As a result, the invaders were savaged by heavy artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire that ripped into the NCDU landing craft. Also, choppy seas swamped many of the amphibious tanks, depriving the invaders of needed of close-in firepower. However, the survivors succeeded in clearing five main channels through the obstacles and three partial channels before the rising tide forced them to withdraw. By the end of the day, about one-third of the obstacles had been destroyed or removed.

Through the gaps poured the reinforcements needed to hold off any counter attacks and to take the fight inland. Seven sailors earned the Navy Cross for their work that day. For their heroic actions, the Omaha NCDUs received a Presidential Unit Citation.

On Gold, Juno, and Sword the British beaches the NCDUs relied heavily on Royal Marine commandos specially trained for the task. Their mission and equipment were similar to their American counterparts but owing to less effective defenses; the Marines sustained fewer casualties, then the Americans did.


Now That’s What I Call Aerial Fires

Saturday, May 25th, 2019