D-Day, June 6, 1944 -
USS Hobson (DD-464) with expended 5-in shells on her deck ...


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Meeting other Vets

I had never met WWII Navy Veterans before, and if so, only occasionaly … This time would be for real ! Being in Normandy (as usual, once a year) I was walking along Utah Beach June 8, 2001 – having attended and watched the official June 6 ceremonies at Ste-Mère-Eglise, La Fière and Ste-Marie-du-Mont, I was looking for some re-enactor friends and collectors who roam the region this time of the year, when I almost collided with a bunch of Navy Veterans in the vicinity of “Le Roosevelt” Restaurant . They were trying to understand some of the English spoken by the locals, were looking for some information concerning the region, and desperately wanted someone to take pictures of their group ... I did not hesitate and offered to help – and a (long) conversation got started, lasting even into the following day … They were 6 former radio operators belonging to the radio group supporting the Naval-Officer-In-Charge (NOIC-Utah Beach) who landed on Utah Beach June 6, 1944 and set up a Comcenter June 8 in a captured German pillbox (located behind the restaurant, about 200 yards from the beach).

The group consisting of 7 officers and 41 men, landed June 6 at 1030 hrs, with 3 radio trucks and support personnel (e.g. yeomen) . Initially they set up radio operations in the trucks (on site at the beach) . They later moved to the enemy bunker (tentatively camouflaged as a house with phony windows), and settled there until … October 31, 1944 . About 18 radio operators scratched their names on the inner walls as a souvenir of their stay at Utah Beach . Meanwhile, the original building (next to the bunker) was replaced by a bar, and later by a restaurant, while the bunker was turned into a wine cellar until 1994 . Two of the above USN Veterans visited Utah Beach for the first time in 1994 (50th D-Day Anniversary) and succeeded in entering the bunker . They not only recognized the place, but found all the names as well, still legibly inscribed on the walls . As a result, the current owner subsequently decided to turn the bunker into a kind of ‘memorial’ and succeeded in redecorating it over the years with period matériel such as radio equipment, calendars, pin ups, pictures, magazines and other D-Day related paraphernalia . Those Navy men had promised to return … which they did in 2001 ! One of them took the initiative and after searching for 2 years he persuaded 6 out of 11 known survivors to travel to Normandy with their next of kin ! Their return proved quite emotional, and telling stories of the hectic landing assault on Utah Beach June 6, 1944 and their stay over there for several months made me wonder how the hell these men survived this ordeal ? Thank you guys, for being there in June 1944 !



"LET US HONOR ALL VETS – WE OWE THEM"

“LEST WE FORGET”


    

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Remark:
"Strictly G.I." is still looking for additional data covering US Naval units active in both the M.T.O. and E.T.O. during World War II . The rôle played by the Navy seems to have escaped many WWII Researchers and Historians, and we'd like to help set the record straight ! Particularly looking for any data related to 2NBB, 6NBB and 7NBB - all inputs appreciated, valued testimonies will receive necessary credit - thanks for your help - kindly contact or e-mail "Strictly G.I." 

“the Sarge”

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