June 07, 2006

Local Veteran Remembers D-Day

Monday marked the 62nd anniversary of D-Day, one of the most historically significant, yet overwhemingly tragic, events in military history. More than 150,000 men, and a fleet of 5,000 ships, 11,000 planes and 50,000 vehicles were mobilized in an effort to secretly attack the German army on the coast of France. The Germans were expecting the allies to attack the Pas-de-Calais.

Allied troops crossed the English Channel onto the beaches of Normandy on the evening of June 5, and early the next morning, paratroopers landed behind enemy lines and took control of important roads and bridges around the invasion area. Although the Channel was extremely narrow, the Allied army suffered approximately 9,000 casualties as the Germans set up fortresses and trenches, aggressively attacking the invaders.

After two days of fighting, and slow and steady progress, the allies eventually took control of the beach and progressed inland to France. The battle is considered the turning point in WWII as it marked the beginning of the downfall of the German army.

Angelo Monte, the co-owner of Gurney's Inn and a member of the 116th Infantry in the 29th Division of the U.S. Army, remembers D-Day first-hand, as he was among the first of the U.S. troops to hit the beach. "It wasn't a pretty day," Monte said.

Monte also remembers the rough waters of the English Channel. He crossed it on Ducks, amphibious vehicles that are capable of traveling on land and water. "It was the roughest the channel had been in 60 years. We were banged around pretty good," he said. "Lots of men were lost before the ducks got to shore; I'm very fortunate to have made it home."

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