More than 55 years after D-Day, World War II veteran Jerry S. Stover, an Army officer who met with CDR Eugene Carusi
on D+2 and witnessed first hand the awesome job accomplished by the 6th NBB in France, made an inquiry regarding
the Unit Citation recommendation. [Stover to right of 6th NBB communications officer William Matchet / art by A.
Russo, USNR] On 10 March 2000, the Department of the Navy announced that "research within Navy records fail to show
that a recommendation was ever submitted or acted upon by the Navy Department for 6th Naval Beach Battalion."
Furthermore, the Army and Navy mutually agreed that a "unit history" would be presented to the Army Unit Awards
Board since the 6th NBB was under the command of the Army 5th Engineer Special Brigade for operation OVERLORD.
It is interesting to note that in spite of intense inter-service rivalry during World War II, COL W.D. Bridges, one
of the top Army commanders of D-Day, proposed a Unit Citation to honor an entire battalion of Navy amphibians. RADM
Kirk, the highest ranking Navy commander of the invasion, provided theater endorsement. The grateful nation of France
awarded this battalion their War Cross, the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
Standing left to right in dress blues are S1/c Mo Greenman, BM1/c Lewis Strickland, PhM3/c Al Silva, Cox Ed Marriott, PhM3/c Howard Hampton and seated, HA1/c David Catallo. Standing left to right on "Easy Red" Omaha Beach are SF2/c Ed Cash, HA1/c George Scott, and HA1/c George Whalen. Kneeling: S1/c Merle Clark, S1/c Charles Hoegen, and S1/c Donald Herbert.
For security reasons during the war, RADM John L. Hall, Commander of Amphibious Forces in Europe, did not want
publicity for the Naval Beach Battalions in France. Over the past half century, authors of D-Day rarely mentioned
A recently published book providing an abundance of information and photographs regarding these unusual World War II
amphibians is Spearheading D-Day: American Special Units in Normandy by Jonathan Gawne.
The October 1999 issue of Naval History reported that the Naval Beach Battalions in France play prominent roles in
the opening battle scene of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. U.S. Navy Beachmaster Virgil Weathers,
an 87-year-old beach battalion veteran said the film was not exaggerated: "If anything, when they showed the bodies on
the beach, they underplayed it."
Platoon A-1 of the 6th NBB pose in their foul weather Army gear while training on the beaches of England. In addition to the Navy medical corps, this rare photo, published in "Spearheading D-Day," includes the hydrographic, communications and small boat repair section. Dr. Frank Ramsey, Beachmaster David Waddy and Ensign Ralph Wood have removed their helmets. Dr. Ramsey was seriously injured on D-Day when a chunk of his shoulder was blown off by a Nazi artillery shell. Refusing evacuation, he suffered intensely on a stretcher while providing triage instructions to his USN corpsmen. And, more than half a century later at a reunion in Atlanta, GA, left to right: LCDR Joe Vaghi, PhM3/c Andy Chmiel, Cox Herb Goodick, S1/c John Hanley, RM1/c John Gallagher, BM2/c Mario Mesa, CM3/c Gino Carlucci, S3/c Ray Castor, and RM3/c Richard Gibler.
My father, a medical officer with the 6th NBB on D-Day, died more than 50 years ago, shortly after the war. As
surviving veterans of the battalion are now entering the twilight of their lives, family members are grateful that
the historical oversight of the unit citation was recently rectified. On the 22nd day of August 2000, through the
Department of the Army and by the Commander in Chief of the United States, the 6th Naval Beach Battalion was awarded
The Presidential Unit Citation for "extraordinary heroism" in military operations on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France,
6 June 1944. The veterans of this Naval battalion returned from World War II in silence and to this day, do not
consider themselves heroes. Although Ed Marriott was one of the brave young sailors of 1944 who opened the invasion
doors of France, he insists that "the real heroes of D-Day were the men we couldn't save, the men we had to leave on
The Normandy American Cemetery in France became the background for the opening and closing scene of Saving Private
Ryan. Every anniversary on the 6th of June, French school children place flowers on 9,286 American graves. The 5th
Engineer Special Brigade Monument is located at the edge of the cemetery, directly above Easy Red. More than half a
century ago, the U.S. Army inscribed on its own memorial the name of each 6th Naval Beach Battalion sailor who died
on Omaha Beach. A large bronze plaque will soon be mounted on that granite monument with the following inscription:
THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE 6TH NAVAL BEACH BATTALION DEDICATE THIS PLAQUE TO OUR FALLEN COMRADES WHO GAVE THEIR
LIVES IN DEFENSE OF GOOD OVER EVIL. THEY ARE THE SILENT SENTINELS WHO FROM THEIR FINAL RESTING PLACE ABOVE THE
CLIFF THEY PERPETUALLY WATCH OVER THE SACRED GROUND OF OMAHA BEACH.
JUNE 6, 2001
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