Save the best for last: “Yesterday’s D-Day commemorations also involved the unveiling of a statue of US Major Dick Winters, who featured in the television series Band of Brothers, in the village of Sainte-Marie-du-Mont.”
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower
Today is the birthday of Cpl. Joseph Liebgott. Joseph Liebgott was born in Detroit, Michigan on 17 May 1915 to Austrian parents. Liebgott enlisted in the army in 1942, and was stationed at Camp Toccoa, Georgia and was put in Easy Company, 506th PIR. After completing training in August, Liebgott qualified as a paratrooper at Fort Benning
After the war, he returned to San Francisco and lived a quiet life with his family. He died on 28th June 1992. Liebgott was portrayed by Ross McCall (@maccageezer) in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Today is the birthday of Pvt. Edward ‘Babe’ Heffron. Edward Heffron was born on May 16, 1923, in South Philadelphia. He dropped out of High School during the Great Depression, and went to work in New York before choosing to enlist in the US Airborne in 1942.
After going through Airborne Training for two years he was sent as a replacement for the 101st Airborne Division in July 1944. He was assigned to Easy Company of the 506th PIR as a Machine Gunner. He quickly made friends with veteran trooper “Wild Bill” Guarnere, who was also from Philadelphia.
Heffron first participated in the Airborne invasion of the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden. On 18th December, he and the Division were immediately sent to the Ardennes forest to replace the 28th Infantry Division and defend the town of Bastogne from the German offensive known as “The Battle of the Bulge”. After the Battle of the Bulge, Heffron would continue to serve all the way to Germany, and would be promoted to Sergeant.
In later life he was interviewed for the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers and also had a cameo role in Episode 4 as an old dutch man in Eindhoven waving a flag. He remains friends with Bill Guarnere and together they wrote their memior Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends which outlined their combat experience.
Babe Heffron was portrayed by Robin Laing in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Today is the birthday of Ssgt Johnny Martin. John W Martin was born in Columbus, Ohio on 12th May 1922. He enlisted in the Army at Columbus, and volunteered for the Paratroopers. He was assigned to Easy Company, in the 506th PIR in the 101st Airborne, at Camp Toccoa. After training, and graduating at Fort Benning as a Paratrooper, he was promoted to Sergeant.
He and the company were sent to Aldbourne, England, to await Operation Overlord. He would later fight in Normandy, and continued until they were taken off the line on 9th July. He fought in Operation Market Garden in Holland from 17th September 17 until they were removed on 27th November. He then went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. Martin continued to serve in the army in occupying Germany and Austria until he was discharged after the war as a Staff Sergeant.
Johnny Martin died on 26th January 2005. He was portrayed by Dexter Fletcher in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Today is the birthday of SSgt William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere.
Staff Sergeant William J. Guarnere was a non-commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during World War II. He made his first combat jump on D-Day as part of the Allied invasion of France. He earned the nickname “Wild Bill” because of his reckless attitude towards the Germans. Another nickname for him was “Gonorrhoea” because of its similarity to his last name.
Guarnere was portrayed by Frank John Hughes in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers.
Guarnere: What the hell you doin’ back here?
Toye: Had to make sure you were on top of things.
Guarnere: Yeah, I’m on top of things. Tied me own boots once last week. All by meself.