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WWII: The Battles for Europe, D-Day Utah Beach

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Chapter 1

D-Day Utah Beach

My name is Captain Andrew B Miller, of the 8th infantry division. I became a Captain by going to West Point. I mean it's not like you can just jump into training and become an officer right off the bat. It feels good being the authority over other people; it was way different back home. But on the other hand, being an officer at only 20 years old, it is going to be tough, I don't know if I can cut it.

This mission I've been training for over many months. This mission, code name Operation Overlord (that's what my Colonel called it) was unknown to me. That was until my Colonel briefed me on it, he told me that. The plan was to invade five of Normandy's beaches: code name utah, Omaha, Juno, Sword, and Gold. I would be attack Utah. This attack was going to consist of five waves. The first consisted of 20 higgens boats, each holding 20 to 30 infantry units (an entire platoon, with me commanding one of them). All 20 boats carrying 20 to 30 men, would equal up to 400 to 600 men on the beach, from the 8th Infantry Regiment, the same regiment that I was in. "The five waves of higgins are suppose to hit the line of departure on time," my Colonel told me. Many of my men that I would be landing on the beach with thought that, that was going to be the major problem in this operation, but it wasn't. Getting to the beach was the easy part. The hard part was that there were obstacles in the water, and 300 to 400 yards from the beach were as close as the transports could get. So, at 6:30 a.m. the landing crafts are going to lower their ramps and 600 men, including my own, are going to be draped into waist deep water 300 to 400 yards from the beach.

It was 6:25 a.m. I was about to load into one of the transports that was taking me to the beach when I saw someone I hadn't seen since boot camp. It was my friend Kyle. Kyle was slim, tall and had a cocky attitude. But nevertheless he was my friend. Many of the men who were in my assault team I didn't even know; they were faces I'd never seen before. These men that I would be landing with looked like they'd just graduated from high school. They were 18, 19, 21 years of age at the most. But for some reason, in the back of my mind I didn't fear for them. I mean, sure I want to lead them up the beach, keep them alive. But the most significant thing that I feared for was...my life. Not seeing my mom or dad again was unbearable, the only thing that kept me at ease was my good friend Kyle. As Kyle walked up to me I thought to myself, "finally a familiar face."

"Hey Andrew," Kyle said.

"How have you been? Big responsibility leading those men up the beach." "Huh, yeah...Hey are you going in this one?" I asked as I pointed over to the transport that I was about to get into. Kyle replied, "Sure why not." As we got in line to board the transport, I asked Kyle if he was nervous, he said "No." He paused and then continued on, saying, "I'm not afraid to die." I was surprised when he said that...because...well because I am. Maybe he would be a better captain. I'm just a soldier afraid of dying and afraid of not seeing my mom and dad again. Those two things are things that a soldier can't afford to be afraid of. Like my Colonel always told me "Andrew being afraid is just away for a soldier to feel safe. But the fact of the mater is, that you need to accept the fact that you're already dead... and the sooner that you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier." As long as I kept that in mind I would be ok, at least I thought I would be.

So, it was my turn to climb down the net that was on the side of the ship so I could load into the transport. The net was wet and slimy from the ocean. It was hard to grip, but I made it in ok. After I was in, down came Kyle; after him came a young man named Robert Longstone. I didn't know Robert that well, I only knew him because we talked once or twice below deck. Rob was a Sargent. He was strong, not very tall, 5'8 at the most. Many of the commanding officers got irritated with him, because he never really took a lot of stuff seriously. Who knows how he got the rank of a Sargent; Lord knows I don't.

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