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Posted on June 7, 2019 at 9:37 AM by Michael Goens
The grim task to meet heavily-fortified German resistance on the northern coast of France, and to storm parts of five landing areas including Omaha Beach, fell to Allied Forces on June 6, 1944. One of the invasion assignments was directed to members of the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division. Seventy-five years ago, the D-Day Invasion at Normandy, France, was in full force for Big Red One soldiers out of Fort Riley, Kansas. 1ID History
At 3:30 a.m. that day, soldiers braced for a 12-mile onslaught over choppy waters of the English Channel toward occupied French coastland and Normandy’s rocky shore. German machine gun nests occupied the cliffs high above landing zones. Maj. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner commanded 1ID troops, who coordinated their attack with 29th division infantry to the west.
Battle-hardened 1st Division
These are the stories of Big Red One soldiers, the Fighting First. Dramatic and heroic. Soldiers’ sacrifices in a fight for freedom during World War II play a significant part in the 1945 liberation of Europe. During WWII: First to fight the enemy (North Africa); first on the beach. Fort Riley’s own Big Red One became the first division that captured a major German city, Aachen. 1ID's WWII engagements
Their stories part of WWII’s historical accounts. They wait to be told, as Fort Riley museums are under renovation, set to re-open in approximately one year during summer 2020. Fort Riley played a significant role in U.S. westward expansion, and the Big Red One was introduced when the country entered WWI, under direction by General "Black Jack" Pershing.
Museum renovations make progress
The division’s 100-year story is immense, and modern technology updates a major focus for the wholesale museum transformations begun in 2018. A temporary museum houses displays and gift shop at 247 Cameron Ave. on post grounds. Changes are scheduled to be bold and exciting at the post, in existence since 1852 and located just 15 minutes from Manhattan. 1ID and U.S. Cavalry museums have initiated the redesign process to implement modern museum amenities like LED lighting at the Fort Riley Army installation, and allow for greater visitor interaction.
Heavy cost in casualties
Back in 1944, Allied Forces took advantage of thinly-spread German forces who had not been able to obtain intelligence on the Allies’ landing location. By noon at Omaha Beach, 1st Division troops had cleared the way for full invasion forces. The price was steep, with 2,400 casualties at Omaha Beach alone. In the 1st Infantry, 316 soldiers gave their lives to the cause of freedom.
The tide of the Second World War would abruptly shift and 11 months later, Allied Forces accepted Germany’s unconditional surrender. On this day, we solemnly salute those men who paid tremendous sacrifices to ensure our freedoms. We salute BRO soldiers living and passed: “No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great; Duty First.”
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