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Relive one of the most memorable and heroic battles that took place in the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise.
First-hand narrative accounts take you back into the heart of action on June 6, 1944.
Capturing this town was a vital component of President Eisenhower’s battle plan. Private Julian Hynes, of the 82nd Airborne Division, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment captures the events that occurred on June 6th, 1944 when members of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 505th Regiment were tasked with seizing the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise. The Route nationale 13, which bisects the town, was a major roadway that both the Germans and the Allied forces desperately needed for moving troops, vehicles and supplies throughout the area. The lack of communication and the fog of war made this battle extremely chaotic, but due to the bravery of all the Allied soldiers involved, Sainte-Mere-Eglise was the first liberated French town of the war. It would go down in history as the greatest victory for the 82nd Airborne Division of World War 2.
There could be a group of German soldiers on the other side of that door and I wasn’t going to win any medals for being polite. So, I took a deep breath and kicked the door in.
“Friend or foe,” I shouted between the grit of my teeth.
Inside the house, a meager French family froze in their tracks. The house was only dimly lit by a couple of kerosene lanterns, but I could clearly see the fear in their eyes. The low buzzing sound of a BBC radio broadcast was heard in the background. The room itself smelled of fresh baked bread and apples. A young boy, no taller than my waist, put his hands up and stepped in front of his mother, sister and father. He crept closer to me and I took a step back.
“Friend, monsieur,” he said. “We’re all friends.”
I was completely disarmed by the little boy’s bravery. “Friends,” I said, lowering the machine gun barrel. I smiled at the little boy and ruffled his hair. “We’re all friends,” I repeated.
The older gentleman stepped forward and waved his hand. “My name is Maurice Duboscq, and this is my wife, Claire.” He shook my hand gently, as if I were a bomb that might explode in the middle of his living room. “That’s my boy, Claude and my daughter is Genevieve.”
The girl rushed over to me and kissed my grimy cheek. The terror in her eyes was unforgettable. It made me remember why I signed up for this gig in the first place. I looked into her big, brown eyes and felt proud to be a soldier.
“This is Sainte-Mere-Eglise,” I said, nodding my head.
“Yes,” answered Maurice.
“Okay,” I said, taking stock of the situation. “I’m sorry...about your door. My name is Julian Hynes, Private First Class, Eighty-second Airborne, Second Battalion.”
“American,” muttered Genevieve.
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