|World War II - June 6th 1944|
World War II
The significance of June 6th 1944 for Army Rangers is well known for the D-Day landings of the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions at Omaha Beach, Normandy. It was during the bitter fighting along the beaches that the Rangers gained their official motto. As the situation became critical on Omaha Beach, Brigadier General Norman D. Cota, Assistance Division Commander of the 29th Infantry Division , stated that the entire assault force must clear the beaches and advance inland. He then turned to Lieutenant Colonel Max Schneider, commanding the 5th Ranger Battalion, and said, "Rangers, lead the way!"
The 5th Battalion spearheaded the breakthrough that enabled the Allies to drive inland away from the invasion beaches.
Attached to the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division, Companies D, E, and F of the 2nd Ranger Battalion accomplished the mission of capturing the gun emplacements of Pointe Du Hoc, after encountering fierce opposition from the defending German garrison. The operation demanded the utmost in Ranger courage and skill as the assault troops climbed rope ladders up the sheer rock face while under intense machine gun, mortar, grenade, and small arms fire.
While many other missions were being conducted prior to, during, and after June 6th, it is also important to note America's entry into World War II. Major (later Brigadier General) William O. Darby organized and activated the 1st Ranger Battalion on June 19th, 1942 at Carrickferus, Northern Ireland. The member of this Battalion were all hand picked volunteers --50 of whom participated in the gallant Dieppe Raid after training with British and Canadian commandos. The 1st Ranger Battalion participated in the North African landings at Arzeu, Algeria, and in the Tunisian Battles. The Battalion was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, which includes operations in the critical Battle of El Guettar.
The 3rd and 4th Ranger Battalions were activated and trained by Colonel Darby in Africa near the end of the Tunisian Campaign. The 1st, 3rd, and 4th Battalions formed the Ranger Force. The three Ranger Battalions spearheaded the Seventh Army landing at Gela and Loicata during the Sicilian invasion. The Ranger played a key role in the subsequent campaign that culminated in the capture of Messina. At Anzio, they overcame beach defenses, cleared the town, and established a defensive perimeter.
The 6th Ranger Battalion, operating in the Pacific was the only Ranger unit fortunate enough to be assigned those missions for which they were specifically organized and trained. All of its missions, usually of task force, company, or platoon size, were behind enemy lines, and involved long range reconnaissance and hard hitting, long range combat patrols.
The 6th Ranger Battalion was the first American force to return to the Philippines with the mission of destroying coastal defense guns, radio stations, radar stations, and the other means of defense and communications in Leyte Harbor. During a storm three days before the main assault, the 6th Ranger Battalion was landed from destroyers onto islands in Leyte Bay. Their missions were completed with only hours to spare.
Later C Company, reinforced by the 2nd Platoon of F Company from the 6th Ranger Battalion, formed the rescue force that liberated American and Allied POW's from a Japanese POW camp at Cabanatuan, the Philippines in January, 1945. They made a 29 mile forced march into enemy territory, aided in part by friendly partisans and the famous Alamo Scouts of the Sixth Army. They crawled nearly a mile across flat, open terrain to assault positions, and they destroyed a Japanese garrison nearly twice their size. The Rangers liberated and evacuated over 500 prisoners. 200 enemy troops were killed. Ranger were two killed and ten wounded.
~Rangers Lead The Way~
On June 6th, 1944 my Grandfather a Naval Officer was doing his part and serving our great nation. I was never old enough to know my Grandfather as he passed a few months after I was born. His son was born this day 68 years ago. Happy Birthday Pops!