Tuesday, June 06, 2006

June 6th.

June the Sixth, two momentous events in US and world history occurred on that one day just two years apart.

The sun set on June 6, 1942 as Lt. Cleo Dobson in the cockpit of his SBD Dauntless watched the wounded Japanese heavy cruiser Mogami limp away as her sister ship Mikuma sank. Lt. Dobson had just photographed the stricken Mikuma and in a scene full of symbolism watched the other battered ships sail off into a glorious setting sun. For on June 6, 1942 the sun was setting on the Rising Sun Empire of Japan and the architect of Operation MI had been proven right. He did rampage for six months defeating all takers, but from this point Japan would be forced to take up the shield while America forged a stronger sword than she had ever possessed before, the aircraft carrier. Three years of brutal fighting still lay ahead starting with Operation Watchtower and ending with Operation Iceberg before Col. Paul Tibbets in a single B-29 dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and ushered in yet another new era.

During the wee hours of June 6th, 1944 the first paratroopers floated down over a restive portion of France called Normandy. They were the harbingers of the liberation of Europe from Hitler's superior race of Germans. Cornelius Ryan would call this The Longest Day. By the end of the day the Allied Expeditionary Forces had wedged themselves firmly onto the same beaches William the Conqueror launched from in 1066 to conqueror England. The cost for the US [Omaha and Utah] and England/Canada [Sword, Juno, and Gold] would be stiff; 10,000 casualties and of these 4,000 would be killed. But Hitler's Festung Europa had been breached in the West and with Soviet forces pushing from the East, the Thousand Year Reich and its evil Fuhrer had less than a year left to live.

Two dates that should always be remembered for they marked the end of two expansionist and evil empires, the saving of Western Civilization from yet another Dark Age while hastening the end of various European empires as those countries struggled to rebuild their home countries.

Sixty plus years later they, the veterans, still need to be honored for the valor and sacrifice of their deeds. Like Wade McClusky pushing on with his 30 SBD Dauntless dive bombers even as his fuel tanks ran dry to find the Japanese carriers. Or the Rangers assault at Pointe Du Hoc to knock out coastal guns that could have disrupted the invasion and only after fighting to get there to discover the guns were not there.

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