Because only the words of veterans can describe the atrocity of the fighting, or the landing that June 6, 1944, here are the words of H. BAUMGARTEN (116th Infantry Regiment) on his June 6, 1944 at Omaha Beach (Remarks from the Heroes of War report episode 1/6):
Already before his departure, he realized that his chances of survival were not consequential: "I got used to the idea that I wasn't coming back".
"The sea was getting rougher and rougher, every time a boat fired cannon shots it made waves"
"As our little barge approached the beach, the one on our left, the one from Company B, blew up on a mine; we received a shower of bits of wood, metal, human debris and blood, that's how I was welcomed in France. After seeing my best friend die and all those guys I knew, it was almost like a psychosis, you wanted to kill."
"I saw things on that beach that no one should see at 19, I saw men with their insides exposed calling their mothers or nurses. It was horrible, the beach was littered with human debris. But we kept going."
"An 88mm bus exploded in front of me, a piece of shrapnel hit the side of my face, a medic would later tell me that my cheek was covering my ear. The left side of my upper jaw was blown away. I had bits of tooth and gum on my tongue. I couldn't spit or swallow. A mortar bus exploded, I received 3 shards in my helmet, so I put 3 fingers in the hole and when I took them out again my hand was full of blood. I had blood running down my ear and the back of my neck."
This man wounded three times and still alive; the situation is a miracle. Yet it's not over for H.BAUMGARTEN
"When I was crawling I triggered a mine, it was as if I'd received a rock on my foot, I lowered my head and saw that there was a hole in my left foot through the gaiters. I was very good at bandaging, so I took off my shoe. And in the same way that water is drained from a vase, I drained the blood from my shoe. I took off my sock and made a beautiful bandage with a bit of powder. And just then, mortar shells started falling, I put my shoe back on over the bandage and ran towards the hedge."
"There was a German machine gun about fifty meters away strafing the road, an MG-42, and we were all ambushed, I arrived a little after the others, and I was hit, a bullet took off a piece of my lip and my right upper jaw. More teeth and bits of gum on my tongue. And then I came across men who had fallen to the ground. But it didn't matter, they were almost dead. I used up my last dose of morphine, that day the moon was the brightest I'd ever seen, and I was with 6 dead G.I.s in a ditch."
"There were German snipers to my left on the cliff, and they started shooting at the wounded, the medic was hit in the arm, the bullet went through the armband with the red cross. And I was hit in the right knee, surprisingly the wound wasn't serious, but the next bullet was going to hit me between the eyes, just then, the destroyer Mac Cook approached the coast with her hull scraping the bottom, and the artillery officer who became a friend, took out the snipers with the 5-inch guns. The shots went right over my head, we saw a plume of smoke over the cliff, and the snipers were eliminated. Exterminated."
This would be his last battle, and he was repatriated to England to recover from his many wounds.
Photo credit: Chief Photographer's Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent, U.S. Coast Guard