CACI Commemorates the 72nd Anniversary of D-Day – the Allied Invasion of Normandy
June 6, 2016 marks the 72nd anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy in 1944. "The D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy" says Dr. J.P. (Jack) London, Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of CACI International Inc, "were a masterpiece of logistics, intelligence, and strategic execution in service of one of the most critical missions in history: the liberation of Europe. At CACI, we remember the sacrifices made in this courageous endeavor."
Landing and Liberation
Codenamed "Operation Neptune," the Normandy landings were the largest, most complex military operation America – and the world – had ever seen. It required the coordination of nearly 160,000 soldiers from nine different countries, using over 6,000 ships and landing craft, landing at five separate beaches along the coast of Normandy in northern France. The Allies faced an entrenched, well-defended enemy with every tactical advantage. But through courage, determination, and a healthy dose of deception and ingenuity, they achieved a victory that turned the tide of World War II.
Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration
Taxis to Hell – and Back – Into the Jaws of Death, a historic photograph taken by chief photographer's mate Robert F. Sargent, depicts troops wading onto "Omaha Beach," Normandy, on the morning of June 6, 1944.
The Allied Invasion of Italy in 1943 put a firm stop to the expansionist plans of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. Forced to divert resources from his invasion of Russia to support Mussolini's faltering regime, he split his already depleted army to create two fronts. The Allies knew they needed a firmer foothold in occupied Europe and plans for the liberation of France began in earnest.
Historically, invasions of France from England went from Dover, England to Calais in France, the two closest points between England and the Continent. Hitler was nothing if not historically minded, and believed that when the Allies invaded, they would go through Calais. The Allies played into that belief, building up a massive – and fake – invasion force near the town of Dover, while spreading misinformation that the Normandy landings were the decoy.
Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, U.S. Coast Guard Collection
A large landing craft convoy crosses the English Channel on June 6, 1944.
Allied ingenuity was also applied to the means of waging war. Engineers developed special landing craft, tanks, bridges, and even an oil pipeline to ensure that the vital substance would be available once the beaches were taken.
When June 6th, 1944 dawned, conditions were less than ideal for an invasion. The sea was rough and the sky overcast – bad signs for a pre-dawn operation. But Eisenhower knew he would have to go for it. There were no alternatives planned for the operation. He sat down and wrote a letter to his commanding officer, General George C. Marshall, to be sent in the event of failure, quoted here in its entirety:
"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
Fortunately, despite adverse conditions and heavy resistance from Nazi soldiers, armor, and artillery, and some delays in achieving targets, the Invasion of Normandy was successful, and Eisenhower never had to send his letter.
Over 10,000 Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen were killed or wounded taking the beaches at Normandy. But their determination and courage gained the foothold that would begin to clear the road for the full liberation of Europe from the tyranny of the Third Reich.
Reflecting on these heroic sacrifices, Dr. London said, "The anniversary of D-Day is a day of solemn remembrance in honor of the bravery of all who fought and sacrificed to free the world from oppression. Sadly, we continue to fight that battle today, albeit in different countries and against a different and determined enemy. Many of our heroes from D-Day are gone, but their legacy lives on in all the brave men and women of our Armed Forces who continue to fight for freedom."
Dr. London also notes that the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, together with the National Park Service, is commemorating the anniversary with a wreath-laying ceremony at 10 o'clock in the morning on Monday, June 6, 2016 at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Dr. London serves on the Friends' Board of Directors.
Dr. London's uncle, 2nd Lt. Gordon L. Phillips, USA, participated in the Normandy invasion with the 83rd Infantry Division, but was killed in action in early July 1944 leading up to the famous battle for St. Lô later that month.
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