D-Day: Reflecting on Native Participation 68 Years Later

A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army's First Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach.

D-Day: Reflecting on Native Participation 68 Years Later

The ships flooded the shorelines along a 50-mile stretch; the planes peppered the skies and General Dwight D. Eisenhower stated, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

This was the sight as 160,000 allied troops aboard 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft stormed the beaches of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 in what is known as D-Day.

According to the U.S. Army website, more than 9,000 allied soldiers were killed or wounded, a high cost, but that battle, 68 years ago today, began the march for more than 100,000 soldiers across Europe to defeat Nazi Germany and Adolph Hitler and put an end to World War II.

For Indian country, WWII brought historic moments to American Indians. It’s where the Navajo code talkers helped dictate the outcome of the war and where Marine Cpl. Ira Hayes was enshrined in the immortal picture of the U.S. flag raising at Iwo Jima. Code talkers were used in World War I, but it was WWII that saw their efforts truly shine.

Of the original 29 Navajo code talkers, Cpl. Chester Nez is the sole survivor and released Code Talker, the only memoir from one of the original Navajo code talkers on September 6. Around 400 Navajo servicemen were recruited into the code talkers before the end of the war, and they took part in every Marine Corps assault in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. The code talkers were among the 44, 000 American Indians (out of a total U.S. population of 350,000 according to the Department of Defense) that served during the war. But on D-Day it was the Comanche code talkers who sent radio messages detailing the exact landing locations of each group of Allied forces as their ships reached the beaches of Normandy.

Below is a video tribute to those who participated in D-Day. The video titled “Beaches of Normandy: the Song” was uploaded by oceanstone333.