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First Sergeant Leonard Lomell

2nd Ranger Battalion - D Company

Pointe du Hoc

 

Our assignment was to take out three gun positions--4, 5 and 6. Because of the mistake in navigation by the British coxswains, we had lost about a half hour. We were coming from the east to the west, where E and F companies were supposed to land, and we said: "God, we don't have time. We're running late already. To hell with this, we'll jam right in between them." We only had two boats left [the boat containing Company D commander Captain Harold "Duke" Slater had been swamped and sunk], so we jammed in there and landed in tight, between E and F companies, to make our assault up the ropes.

My whole psyche that day was like I was in a football game. I remembered my instructions, and we charged hard and low and fast. That was our secret, and we stayed together. The 2nd Platoon stayed together as a team on D-Day. We got in, and our ramp went down and all hell broke loose. The boat leader goes off the front straightaway. I stepped off the ramp, and I was the first one shot. The bullet went through what little fat I had on my right side. It didn't hit any organs, but it spun me around and burned like the dickens. There was a shell crater there underwater. I went down in water over my head with the spare rope, the hand launcher and my submachine gun. Keeping in mind that the idea was to get to the top as fast as we could, I got myself together and went up the cliff.

Foremost in our minds was the challenge of getting up that cliff, which was wet from rain and clay and very slippery. The Germans were shooting down. They were cutting ropes. They were trying to kill us. I'd already been shot. Were we going to make it to the top? Were we going to get shot? These are the things we were thinking about. I think we were too cocky to be too fearful or frightened. I never thought I was going to get killed. These guys were positive thinkers. I don't think they thought much about getting killed. They thought if they got an even chance in a fight they would win as they always had.

Concentrating on what I had to do and climbing the slippery, muddy rope was exhausting. Next to me was Sergeant Robert Fruhling, our radio man, struggling with his "500" radio set with a big antenna on it. We were approaching the top, and I was running out of strength. Bob yelled, "Len, help me. Help me! I'm losing my strength." I said, "Hold on! I can't help you. I've got all I can do to get myself up." Then I saw Sergeant Leonard Rubin. He was all muscle, a born athlete, a very powerful man. I said, "Len, help Bob! Help Bob! I don't think he's going to be able to make it." He just reached over, grabbed Bob by the back of the neck and swung him over. Bob went tumbling, and the antenna was whipping around, and I was worried that it was going to draw fire. That's all I was thinking about. I was also worried about falling off the cliff with him. I yelled, "Get down! You're gonna draw fire on us!" You know, you get excited.
When I went over the top, I tumbled into a shell crater. There was Captain Gilbert Baugh. He was E Company's commander. He had a .45 in his hand, and a bullet had gone through the back of his hand into the magazine in the grip of the .45. He was in shock and bleeding badly, and there was nothing we could do other than to give him some morphine and say, "Listen. We gotta move it. We're on our way, Captain. We'll send back a medic. You just stay here. You're gonna be all right." It was then that we left the crater where we had gathered together as we came over the cliff. We jumped into a bigger crater, and it held maybe a dozen of our guys. We couldn't get all 22 together in one crater for the move toward 4, 5 and 6 gun emplacements. We hadn't counted on craters being a protection to us. We would have lost more men, but the craters protected us.

We made a move to jump to the next crater. Sergeant Morris Webb was behind me, and Corporal Robert Carty was in back of Webb with a fixed bayonet. The Germans opened fire on us as we started out, and we jumped back to avoid the fire. Well, Webb jumped onto Carty's bayonet. Carty didn't mean to do it. He was just down behind, ready to come up. I saw the bayonet sticking through Webb's thigh. When I ran by him, I got my morphine and socked him in the thigh. I yelled, "I can't stay here, Webb, I gotta keep moving! We'll send a medic to you!" At that time somebody else came and took over as we made our way over to the west side of the Pointe to gun positions 4, 5 and 6. There were no guns there, and we thought, "What the hell? What's happened here? There never were any guns here!" There was no evidence that there were ever any guns there.