USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Reflects on D-Day and Namesake

Story Number: NNS170608-18Release Date: 6/8/2017 4:16:00 PM
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By Lt. Christopher Hetherington, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- June 6th, 1944 is a day that has been taught and invoked to memorialize from a young age in a majority of our lives. We read and heard from veterans the stories of courage, fortitude, perseverance, and resilience.

To all of us onboard IKE, it is also a significance of our namesake's planning, courage, and leadership that led to the defeat of Nazi Germany. But what lessons can we learn and use? How do we use these war stories and tales that took place nearly seventy five years ago? One must look at how Ike and the men and women who fought and supported the landings at Normandy and see how we fight and succeed; training, planning, executing as a unit and together in a joint and collation partners with a little luck leads to success against our nation's foes.

Since Ike and our allies in World War II met to take back Europe, they knew we had to go through France. A large push to liberate France and continue a swift push into Germany, Ike knew he had to keep the press on the Nazis. Facing this was the failures since the British and some French forces were evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940. Hitler also ordered the fortification of the French coast with the Atlantic wall and his best general, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, to help keep the Allies from taking France. With all this to stop the Allies, what was Ike's success plan?

Ike had a lot of ways to help him. He leaned upon his experiences and lessons learned from the invasion of North Africa in 1942 and Italy in 1943, which showed him how best to use his forces to achieve objectives, and avoid previous mistakes and obstacles. With that in mind, he knew how to train his forces for the invasion and utilize his staff to accomplish the mission. This staff was not just the United States; it was composed of Allies from both sides of the Atlantic with the United Kingdom and Canada helping, along with the support of the Free French government in exile. Utilizing the abilities and space of his allies, particularly the British, the Allies trained for the largest invasion in the history of the world. They drilled daily, overcoming new obstacles, both in training and from the enemy.

To keep secret from the Nazis where and when the Allies would invade in France, they used deception and other information operations to show the intended targets. They used the appearances by General George Patton, dummy tanks and planes to show the size and scope along with intended codes for Calais, not Normandy, as the invasion point. Many of IKE's Sailors qualified information warriors will recognize these operations as the forerunner to the same tactics and practices for our modern information warfare practices.

While mostly seen as preparations for the Allied armies, the Allied navies had a large part as well. Working hand in hand with their army counterparts, they drilled ship to shore movements in amphibious craft. They also assembled one of the largest armadas in the English Channel to provide covering fire and soften and Nazi resistance.

Finally, as June sixth approached, all the training, all the hard work seemed for naught. The tides and weather were supposed not support the invasion that day. Ike, taking a gamble decided to move forward and trust his troops and sailors to seize the day.

As Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon, the die was cast, and the forces went into motion. Paratroopers and gliders landed early morning on the sixth behind enemy lines from the 82nd, 101st, and the British SAS. That morning the navy opened fire with an artillery barrage as the landing ships moved forward carrying their cargo of freedom for France and Europe.

Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, Utah; all names sacred to our nation, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as hallowed ground for our troops. Success was had for the British and Canadian landing parties, easily taking their objectives. The American Army had issues as Omaha, blown off course from the original landing spot, they fought on relied on their training and each other to take the beach; on every landing spot, there was only one thing to do, move forward as there was no turning back.

At the end of the day, the Nazis were taken by surprise, aided by leadership ineptitude on their own part, and the hard fighting and spirit of the Allied troops made a beach head to press forward towards Paris and ultimately, Berlin.

Training, tenacity, perseverance, strength, and faith in each other from the men to right and left of the individual soldiers and sailors, to the Allied countries carried the day. How though does this relate to us? We have seen it ourselves through our most recent deployment. Coming out of DPIA, IKE trained daily through TESTA/FEP, COMTUEX, and other certification events to be successful. As part of the Strike Group, we relied on the other ships and the air wing for our success. We utilized aid from our sister services and our coalition partners in planning and executing Operation INHERENT RESOLVE tasking and other regional maritime security operations in the FIFTH and SIXTH Fleets AORs. We faced challenging foes and danger from enemies to our nation and our allies, and with luck suffered no casualties to ourselves, our air wing, and other ships in our Strike Group off Yemen, Syria, and Iraq; demonstrating our resolve for victory.

What will be said of us seventy three years from now, when our sea stories are passed down to our children and grandchildren? We must ensure the same lessons of success that we used enlighten the road to triumph as we learned from our forefathers in arms.

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Capt. Craig Sicola, executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), speaks at a D-Day remembrance memorial in the Five Star classroom aboard the ship.
170607-N-QN175-069 NORFOLK (June 7, 2017) Capt. Craig Sicola, executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), speaks at a D-Day remembrance memorial in the Five Star classroom aboard the ship. Dwight D. Eisenhower is pierside during the sustainment phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dartez C. Williams/Released)
June 8, 2017
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