On June 6, 1944, Texas A&M grad Lt. Col. James Rudder led the 2nd Ranger Batallion against these famous cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc as part of the Allied Invasion of mainland Europe in World War II. If you ever have the chance to make the trip up to this tiny spot in Northwestern France, do it simply to appreciate the courage of the plan to make this a landing spot as part of the invasion and the bigger stones to pull it off.
On this Veteran's Day we honor those who served both then and now, this site is another example of the type of heroism most of us simply do not understand.
As part of a WWII trip, I visited here with only a basic understanding of the site. I knew that the USS Texas had bombed it in the early hours of the June 6 invasion, and then the men under Rudder's command came in.
It was not like this was a nice beach to land on; it's nothing but a rocky point. The giant guns that the Allies sought to destory had already been moved out by the German forces. Alas, this was not a surrender. Guys were throwing "potato mashers" at the Rangers and had them pinned down.
The assault team made it up at 7:40 a.m. and eventually the Rangers claimed this high ground that offers brilliant views to the east and west of the English Channel.
The French turned over this area to the U.S. in 1979, and it is now cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Today it serves as a living memorial to this part of the invasion, and the German forces that were pushed out. The bomb pockets are intact, and there are a couple of pill boxes and bunkers as well as a memorial and a few other artifacts.
It's yet another somber reminder of just how hard this job was, and what heroism really looks like.
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