• June 24, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

Remembering D-Day

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Posted: Thursday, June 6, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:30 pm, Thu Jun 13, 2019.

D-Day. Seventy five years ago today, June 6, 1944. Called The Longest Day, with good reason. And just as with Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, we must never forget what happened.

The action had long been underway with heavy bombing of the coastal area. The combat on D-Day itself began just after midnight when the first parachute troops started landing in Normandy, France, to begin the liberation of Europe from the Nazi hordes. The operation did not go smoothly from the start, with planes crashing, men being dropped all over the place instead of where they were supposed to be and units unable to find each other. But they hung in there and slowly came together.

Then around dawn the landing boats full of soldiers raced to the shore and took heavy casualties — the action you see in the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan.” It is believed that 4,414 were killed on the beaches that day, 2,501 of them Americans. That’s more Americans than have died in the entirety of the nearly 18-year-old war in Afghanistan. Total Allied casualties topped 10,000.

Among the unknown number of Queens men who hit the beach and lived to fight another day were two the Chronicle has written about recently: Rocco Moretto of Astoria and John McHugh of Whitestone. Both were in The Big Red One, the Army’s First Infantry Division. Today, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2348 in Astoria is named for Moretto, who died less than a year ago. And the Whitestone community is trying to get a street honorarily renamed for McHugh, while he is still alive. We fully support that effort. The Greatest Generation is leaving us but must be remembered.

Keep in mind that success on D-Day was not only earned at tremendous cost, it was never guaranteed. Supreme Allied Commander and future President Dwight Eisenhower had two messages ready to go out to the public that day, one of them acknowledging failure to win the beach and taking responsibility. Luckily for the world, he never had to release it. The Allies beat the Nazis, ended the horror of the Holocaust, beat the Japanese too and created the far better world that followed.

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