The average age of the American soldiers who jumped into France or landed at Normandy was twenty-two. That includes everyone including the men running the show. Plenty of those who fought were as young as eighteen.
When good confronted evil, when the flame of freedom flickered, the men sent to make it right were young. They had their entire lives in front of them, but first they had to save the world.
By midnight, the Americans would lose 2,500 KIA, 3,200 WIA, 2,000 MIA, and 26 POW. Many of them were paratroopers who had jumped into the darkness over France slightly after midnight.
Here’s Ike, nothing more to plan, seeing off the 101st Airborne Division before they jumped. In his pocket, he carried a communique taking the blame if the landings were unsuccessful. Some of these men were high school graduation age.
The American Rangers scaled cliffs to get at the German guns. At age twenty-two, could you have done this?
The size of the invasion, entrusted to these twenty-two year olds, was beyond belief.
1. Seven million tons of supplies, 450,000 tons of ammo
2. 17,000,000 maps
3. 11,600 aircraft, 14,700 sorties bombing and ferrying 15,500 American paratroopers and 8,000 British paratroopers
4. 7,000 ships, 1,200 war ships, 4,100 landing craft, 200,000 sailors to put the assault troops ashore
5. 160,000 men landed
6. including enemy casualties more than 425,000 during the Normandy campaign
7. by D + 5, the Allies had 330,00 men ashore, 55,000 vehicles
Once the assault waves had the beaches, the American Arsenal of Democracy began to land the industrial might of our country.
The average age of those who participated was twenty-two.
So, I ask you — what were you doing when you were twenty-two? When this batch of warriors was turning a Nazi occupied Europe into a safe place?
Godspeed to those who died. God bless us that America spawned such men. Note their sacrifice. Mourn their passing, but celebrate that such men lived. Remember what is in our blood. This is America.
Some of these young men never left Normandy.