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Sergeant David M. Rogers

101st Airborne Division - 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment - 1st Battalion - Hq Company

Utah Beach

 

My plane took off at 11:15 p.m. As I remember, it was not quite dark at this time. There was some flying time used to get this huge number of planes in the proper formation for the flight to Normandy. We eventually headed south toward our destination and found ourselves flying at about 500 feet elevation over the English Channel. There was not a lot of talking during the flight across the Channel. I think most of the men were contemplating what was about to happen.

As we neared Guernsey island, the planes began to turn eastward toward the Normandy coast. When we were over the coast, the planes entered a cloud or fog bank. It was at this time that some of the planes lost formation. The pilots had been told to hold formation at all cost, most did but some did not. As a result of this, some of the paratroopers were dropped miles from their drop zone. The pilot of my plane stayed the course and we flew directly over our drop zone C. A mortar cart that was to be pushed out the plane door before we jumped was slow in getting out delayed us a bit.

When my parachute opened, I was directly above the church steeple of the church in Sainte Marie du Mont. The moon was full and there were scattered clouds which made every thing on the ground easy to see. When I looked down, I saw the picture of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. ft looked just like the picture I had studied so intensely at Uppottery. I knew without a doubt that I was over the church steeple in that small French village.

I drifted to the edge of the village and landed with my Parachute caught in a small tree in a fence row. I was probably 75 feet from some buildings. I got out of my parachute and was looking around the area when I saw a shadowy figure about 150 feet along the fence row moving toward me. I clicked my cricket and received two click in return. We moved toward each other and I met my Battalion Sergeant Major, Sergeant lssac Cole. We were extremely happy to see each other.

At this time, troop carrier planes were still flying over and gunfire sounds were coming from every direction. It wasn’t long before Sergeant. Cole and myself had gathered together 6 or 7 other paratrooper, none of whom I knew. We didn’t bother to ask their names or what unit they belonged to. We were just glad to have this small group together in one piece.

After some consultation, we decided to move toward the church and the center of the village. As we moved along the street, we decided to knock on a door and try to get some information about the enemy. An elderly French man answered our knock. One of the men in our group could speak some French and he asked him where the Germans were. Waving his hand over his head, he said, "every where." We proceeded on to the church and decided that we would enter and have half of our group stay on the ground floor and the others would go up into the steeple. Sergeant Cole, myself and three of the other men would go up the steeple. After going to the upper reaches of the steeple, we found that we had could fire in every direction and had a good view in most every direction. We would do our best to prevent any German troops from moving through the village.

Daylight was not long in coring and when it did I looked toward Utah Beach and saw the most awe inspiring sight I had ever seen. There were hundreds and hundreds of ships of various kinds laying off the beach. I could see some of the ships firing on the beach. Later there were planes dropping bombs. After some time had passed, we saw the boats caring the landing forces moving toward the beach. We now new the sea landing forces were on their way.

David M. Rogers