Sea conditions prevent Marines from landing on Omaha Beach

Sea conditions prevent Marines from landing on Omaha Beach

Marines came ashore by aircraft rather than landing craft on Tuesday to mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings due to sea conditions, an official familiar with the demonstration told Task & Purpose.

“Commanders were not willing to accept the risk of high waves for the demonstration,” the official said Wednesday.

About 120 U.S. Marines were scheduled to land on Omaha Beach aboard landing craft and utility boats along with the French troops on Tuesday.

But during a rehearsal early Tuesday, Navy operational planners said low sea conditions made it clear the weight of the equipment the landing craft were carrying could cause them to run aground on their way to shore. The 120 Marines were not allowed to conduct the amphibious demonstration at Omaha Beach, but about 40 Marines and sailors traveled by helicopter from the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill and the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp to attend the ceremony at the American National Cemetery in Normandy.

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Planners said there may be an opportunity for U.S. Marines to land in Normandy in an amphibious invasion on Thursday, but it’s too early to say.

The landings were to have been part of this year’s ceremonies marking the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe, one of the most defining moments of World War II, which will include a total of 1,200 U.S. troops and a parachute drop on June 9.

On June 6, 1944, approximately 160,000 Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy, including approximately 73,000 American soldiers and 83,000 soldiers from Britain, Canada, and France.

The Allies used sophisticated deception, including false troops, to convince the Germans that the invasion was taking place elsewhere in France, but the troops that landed that day met heavy resistance, especially on Omaha Beach.

On D-Day alone, 4,414 Allied soldiers were killed, including 2,501 Americans. Over 5,000 other Allied soldiers were wounded.

Terry Welch, a spokesman for U.S. Army Europe-Africa, said the problems the Marines faced as they tried to launch the Normandy invasion this year underscore how difficult D-Day 80 years ago was.

“Everything that could possibly go wrong did happen, but the superior training and dedication of Allied forces enabled them to adapt and prevail, achieving what Ernie Pyle called a ‘pure miracle,'” Welch told Task & Purpose.

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