Based on the written testimonies and personal archives of two veterans of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment attached to the famous US 82nd Airborne Division, this book tells the story of two young Americans who unwittingly became actors in one of the greatest crusades against tyranny the world has ever known.
In order to better understand the motivations of those young men, the author describes their family upbringing, taking us through the youth and adolescence of these heroes in an America directly hit by the crisis of the 1930s. He shows us the similarity in the education received in the family, at school and in church, and belief in the same values which constituted the foundation of rural society in the American Heartland. He then vividly describes - almost on a day-to-day basis - the rigorous training undertaken by a trainee parachutist in different camps throughout the USA, before finally pinning the much-sought-after Wings on his chest.
Finally the big day arrives - D-Day. We follow the emotions, fear, but also the feat of arms of our heroes. Together, we jump from a C-47 rocked by the explosions of shells and machine-gun fire, and find ourselves in the hostile Normandy woodland crawling with the enemy, and at times far from the planned Drop Zone.
With the help of original plans and unpublished photos, the author discovers unknown details and specifies precisely the movements between June 6th and 10th 1944 of small elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, principally between the two bridges over the flooded valley of the Merderet at La Fière and Chef-du-Pont. The capture of just these two passages was necessary for the American troops whose objective was to cut off the Cotentin peninsula thus isolating Cherbourg and preventing enemy reinforcements to move north.
The epilogue tells how these fierce warriors, still alive after three years of war and innumerable battles, returned to their homeland, readapted - at times with difficulty - to civilian life, married and in time had children.
This is a worthy addition to the available literature concerning the 82nd Airborne Division and its key role in the Normandy invasion of 1944.
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