June 6, 1944, is the day when more than 160,000 Allied forces landed in Nazi-occupied France as part of the biggest air, land and sea invasion ever executed. It ended with heavy casualties – more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded in those first 24 hours – but D-Day is largely considered the successful beginning of the end of Hitler’s tyrannical regime.And for you old-timers out there, here's an interesting bit of trivia.
Why It’s Called D-Day:
Do you actually know what D-Day stands for? Apparently it’s the most frequently asked question at the National World War II Museum, but the answer isn’t overly simple. Many experts have varying opinions, including that the D simply stood for “day,” a code used for any important military operation. Others have said it’s just alliteration, like “H-Hour,” when a military assault begins.Regardless of the actual meaning, let's keep in mind this quote from General George S. Patton.
While the true meaning remains up for debate, we’ll go with what U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said about it through his executive assistant, Brig. Gen. Robert Schultz: “Be advised that any amphibious operation has a ‘departed date;’ therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used.” He said there were actually several other D-Days during the war – Normandy was just the biggest and most well-known.
It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.Here's something that will put a face on one of the D-Day casualties.
Over seven decades ago a 16-year old young man from McAndrews, Ky lost his life on the beach of Normandy while serving for the 6th Naval Beach Battalion as a medic. Virgil Mounts was by all accounts a hero; he became the youngest casualty of war on D-Day, June 6, 1944.Enlisted at 15. Died at 16. I'll bet he didn't even have to shave yet on 6 June 1944.
Virgil had joined the military at the age of 15, by taking his brother’s driver’s license and using it as a form of identification.
Recounting, the events of that dreadful day in 1944. Frank Walden, Mounts fellow medic, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in an interview in 2012, he and Mounts saw a shell explode near two Army personnel who were carrying a stretcher. When they went to treat the injured, another shell exploded, shrapnel tearing though Mounts’ body and hitting Walden, Mounts was killed instantly, Walden was hit in the arm, collarbone, back and leg.God Bless Virgil Mounts and all the rest of those brave men.
ETA: Here's the press clipping from 1944 announcing Virgil Mount's death. It's the letter from his platoon leader to his parents. Sadly, many similar letters have been written in the decades since.