D-Day Omaha Beach lead
Omaha Beach on D-Day -- June 6, 1944.

The Normandy American Cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel, was established on June 8, 1944, as the first U.S. cemetery in Europe during World War II. It holds the graves of more than 9,300 U.S. servicemen who died freeing Europe, many of whom perished on that beach.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the largest amphibious assault in world history — a.k.a. D-Day. On that day, the names Utah and Omaha beach became etched in American lore thanks to the heroism of thousands of American troops who “gave all” to gain a foothold in “Fortress Europe.”

At 6:30 a.m., more than 5,000 ships and landing craft carrying 156,000 Allied troops and their supplies left England for the trip across the British Channel to France, while more than 11,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion.

The cost was high: The Omaha beach landings alone claimed more than 2,000 casualties on the first day. By the day’s end, the Allies had suffered more than 4,000 casualties. But, the sacrifice was not in vain: All 156,000 Allied troops gained their beachhead. Simultaneously, in the largest airdrop in history, thousands of paratroopers and glider troops landed behind enemy lines, securing bridges and exit roads, attempting to cut off the German forces at Normandy and from receiving reinforcements.

At Gold, Juno and Sword beaches, the British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture those shores. This effort was the start of the great push to Berlin and to ultimate victory.

According to The National World War II Museum, more than 500,000 U.S. personnel were on, just off or in the skies over the beaches at Normandy on D-Day. In total, more than 16.1 million Americans served during WWII.

Today, roughly 62,500 WWII veterans are still alive and can recall the total effort it took to free nations and save a world. We at Tactical-Life salute them, and we pay special tribute to those who fell, at Normandy and elsewhere, defending America and preserving freedom.

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