US ARMY 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION
The 1st Infantry Division and one regimental combat team from the 29th Infantry Division comprised the first wave of troops that assaulted German Army defenses on Omaha Beach on D-Day. The division had to run 300 yards to get to the bluffs, with some of the division’s units suffering 30 percent casualties in the first hour of the assault, and secured Formigny and Caumont in the beachhead by the end of the day. The division followed up the Saint-Lô break-through with an attack on Marigny, 27 July 1944.
Members of ‘I’ Company of the 3rd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment ride on a tank during their advance on the town of Schopen, Belgium, 21 January 1945.
The division then drove across France in a continuous offensive, reaching the German border at Aachen in September.
US veteran Steve Kellman left us on Thursday, May 2nd, at the age of 90. Born January 30th 1923, he served as a soldier in the 16th Infantry Regiment of the US 1st Division and landed on June 6th 1944 on Omaha Beach in the 1st wave. Wounded, he was repatriated to England. After a month of hospitalization, he joined his company in France and participated in the Battle of Hürtgen and the Ardennes. Steve had attended the 67th Anniversary of the D-Day ceremonies. Turning towards the beach, when the colors and the national anthems rose, he was taken so deeply with the atmosphere and the public, that emotions produced tears in his eyes. Tenno Dogger, president of the Deep Respect Association, says: “Steve was a fantastic man, full of humor and love. It was an honor to know him.”
Vierville-sur-Mer – May 15th 2013
Shay was drafted into the military in 1943 at the age of 19. He was selected for training as a medical technician and learned basic surgery skills. Shay joined the Medical Detachment of the First Division’s (Big Red One) 16th Infantry Regiment and was attached as a platoon medic to Fox Company. As a combat medic, Shay treated as many of his wounded comrades as possible – bandaging wounds, applying tourniquets, applying makeshift splints, administering morphine, and otherwise trying to make the wounded as comfortable as possible. Shay pulled several struggling soldiers from the rising tide, saving many immobilized wounded from drowning during the first wave of the landing of Omaha Beach on D-Day. He was also present helping the fallen at the Battles of Aachen, Huertgen Forest, and the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge).
Shay was later attached to a reconnaissance squadron moving into the small farming village of Auel near the Sieg River in Germany. The squadron encountered about 20 German soldiers accompanied by a Panzer tank with an 88mm weapon, and were forced to surrender. The squadron was then marched 50–60 miles, moving only by night, to the POW camp Stalag VI-G. The column of prisoners grew along the way as the German unit accumulated more and more American soldiers. Shay was interrogated at the camp and held there until April 12, 1945 when American troops encircled the camp, trapping 350,000 enemy soldiers and liberating the camp. Shay was sent home soon after.