D-Day Landing
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Operation Overlord and D-Day

Operation Overlord commenced the morning of 6 June 1944 on the coast of Normandy, France. The operation included forces from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada that invaded the coast by air, land, and sea. It was a pivotal battle which turned the course of World War II in favor of the Allies and forever is known as D-Day.

Wisconsin was there with thousands of men and women in the European Theater. Forty-six Wisconsinites were killed in action on D-Day and are noted in the map below with red markers. Blue markers note Wisconsinites that took part in the D-Day operation and lived to share their stories with the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. We invite you to explore them.

Location of Wisconsin Veterans Involved with D-Day

Explore the map by clicking on the pins.

Survivors Survivor

 D-Day Stories from Wisconsin

These numbers correspond to veterans who participated the D-day operation and are marked in the window display located at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Click on the each number below to learn more of the story.

Frederick Beck

Port Washington, WI
Age 20
Instrument Operator & Battery Computer, 111th Field Artillery Battalion, 29th Infantry Division
"The battleship [USS] Arkansas was...near us and they were firing their 14-inch guns over us. You could actually see the 14-inch projectiles and you could feel the heat from when the 14-inch guns fired."


Harold Brown

Madison, WI
Age 20
Replacement Pilot, P-47, 8th Air Force
"Here I am three thousand feet over the beach. I could see the ships starting to come in the daylight, and all of a sudden, a blanket of fire from the ships to the shore, and then from the shore to the ships. And then I saw the landing barges. They let go, I think about six miles out, or something. And they had quite a ride in. And I thought I was going to see the whole works right here. Well, just before the landing craft pulled into the beach, a cloud cover came up at 2,000 feet, and I never saw anything. Which I am glad I didn’t..."


Chester Budish

Milwaukee, WI
Age 25
Mechanic, Battery A, 62nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion, Omaha Beach


John Capper

Black River Falls, WI
Machinist Mate, Navy - USS Nevada


Orville Collins

Denmark, WI
Paratrooper, 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Regiment, Company A
"I would say our jump was perfect. We came in at about six hundred feet, going about ninety miles an hour. Blew a few panels. And the plane that I happened to be in, mostly eighteen, twenty guys. And the little town that I landed near was Foucarville. And at that time, I mean, it is hard to explain or understand, but you know there is men around you. You see them come down in parachutes. But you feel awfully alone. It is quiet.  They are shelling all around you. There is distant artillery. The battleships."


Glen Drake

Loyal, WI
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment
"I knew there was no one more anxious to get out of the plane than I.  After hooking my static line to the steel cable that ran the length of the plane, I had to hang on to the cable and the side of the plane to stay on my feet.  I was next to last of our stick, and I was wondering if I would get out.  At last the green light came on and the line of heavily laden men began moving toward the door and disappearing into the night.  It seemed to take forever.  All the way back to the door we had to struggle to stay on our feet and I was thinking 'God damn it, let's go let's go let's get the hell out of this damn plane before it goes down!'  When I finally went out the door, I knew right away that I had jumped from the frying pan into the fire!  It was a night jump, but the hundreds of phosphorous flared floating on small parachutes turned the night into day."

William Draves

Fond du Lac, WI
Age 27
Radar Mechanic, 50th Troop Carrier Squadron, 314th Troop Carrier Group


John Ellery

Stoughton, WI
1st Division, 16th Infantry Regiment, Omaha Beach
"Where I landed there was quite a bit of salt marsh, and when you got through all of that you were then at the bottom of a bluff that was, I’d estimate, fifty feet high. And you were under fire from...the time you were within a mile at least of the point at which you were going to drop the ramp on your LCVP [Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel]. So that getting across that beach and then getting up into the heights was a devastating experience. To this day I don’t understand really where the men got the courage to do that. It could have been a very demoralizing experience, and yet I saw men charging up over the shale bank, up the slope, through a minefield, and they got to the heights."


Donald Fisher

Beloit, WI
Age 19
Radioman First Class, PT 503
"We…didn't have much trouble--one boat from our squadron hit a mine, but she was beached and patched up and is still around.  We were under fire from German shore batteries, and they split one minesweeper right alongside us, but we weren't hit."


Milo Flaten

Milwaukee, WI
Age 19
29th Division, 116th Regiment, Company E
"...We could see France, we could see the land mass, we couldn't see much of it but you'd see, it was dawn. I don't know if it was dawn when we first came up, we went up and ate breakfast and then went back down and came back up and then it was getting light out, and the motors went off on the ship. Everything got quiet and you had been listening to this god damn motor for three days you could hear [sound of motor] and all the sudden there is quiet and that added to the apprehension, at least to mine."


Earl Ganzow

Fort Atkinson, WI
Age 19
237th Engineer Combat Battalion, 3rd Wave on Utah Beach


Martin Gutekunst

Milwaukee, WI
Age 27
2nd Naval Beach Battalion
"So we landed in low tide. We had a long walk from where we got off the LCVP until we got to the area where we started having to blow up the obstacles. You know, they were wicked looking things. I remember so well how many there were and how much we cleared away when we got through."


John Guth

Bancroft, WI
Airplane Mechanic
84th Troop Carrier Squadron, 437th Troop Carrier Group
"We towed the gliders on D-Day.  We took off about two o'clock in the morning.  We dropped our gliders about four o'clock AM.  And then we scooted back to England as fast as we could and got back about six.  When we got back, while we looked the plane over, we had two small arm fire hits, which didn't do nothing.  Not much damage...When we came back from our initial flight, we, we was taken in for breakfast, and the first thing they give you was a drink of whiskey.  Any amount you wanted.  Drank that, had breakfast, then back to the ship, fixing it up, and ready for tomorrow."


Daniel Heleniak

Milwaukee, WI
Age 19
LCT Flotilla 17


Robert Herriot, Sr.

Adams, WI
Age 25
Paratrooper, 327th Glider Infantry Regiment
"I transferred to the glider regiment because I, saw too much of guys landing in the water and drowning because they couldn’t get rid of the weight, you know. When you jumped you got your weapons, your ammunition, you’re kind of heavy you know. And then some guys got tangled up in trees, and it was mess, and then when you hit the ground, if you were lucky enough to get on the ground, then you were isolated. It took a long time to get the group together. At least a glider, why when you land you got 13 men all in one group to start with."


Norman Herro

Milwaukee, WI
316th Troop Carrier Group, 9th Air Force
"We were the first troops, the first carriers in. We were in about...one thirty-five in the morning of D-Day. About five hours before the troops hit the beaches. Because our mission was to drop these specially trained Pathfinder paratroopers...to get them on the ground so that they could set up beacons, so that the mass of the aircraft following us, forty-five minutes later, the whole entire groups, could come in and home in on those beacons."



James James

North Fond du Lac, WI
316th  Troop Carrier Group, 9th Air Force
"The plane was going down nose first. Both engines on fire... and so Pfeifer was the last one out, and we seen the plane, watched it. It went down, blew right up. Seven guys never got out of the plane, and the same with the plane crew. I got hung up on the tree. It takes a hundred feet for a chute to open up and it just opened up and I got hung up there. Just luck."


Amos Johnson

Blanchardville, WI
Age 24
4th Infantry Division, Utah Beach


Gordon King

Merrill, WI
Age 20
506th Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division


Larry Kubale

Green Bay, WI
Age 22
Glider Pilot, 101st Airborne Division
"By the time the thing got organized, it was close to midnight.  And the guys that had come with me, they were actually paratroopers with the 101st Airborne.  So they had their mission to do.  And once you're on the ground, you're infantry with them, whatever group you're in.  So I was with them for four or five days.  And they ran into the one-star general, Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt's grandson, running around in a jeep."


Robert Lankow

Milwaukee, WI
Age 19
United States Navy, LST-500
"The armada of airplanes…They blocked out the moon, I'm telling you…We made forty-three crossings before we had to go tie up and have some engines looked at and overhauled…We were on Juno, we were on Sword, we were on Gold, Utah, and Omaha.  But the initial day, I turned nineteen on June 2nd and on the 6th I was on the beaches of Normandy."


Clifford Lewis

Waupaca, WI
Age 22
LCI(L)-94, Flotilla 10


Thomas Lucas

Markesan, WI
Pathfinder, 82nd Airborne Division
"I landed in the water, I landed in the damn water, and I went under, but, my parachute caught on something on the causeway, and I started climbing up the parachute then and that got out. I don’t know how many men we lost there. They just all drowned."



Donald Pechacek

River Falls, WI
Age 23
2nd Ranger Battalion
"He had a mortar and I had ten mortar shells and when we pulled in and when our ramp hit, why we went down and we got off. And he set up the mortar and my hands were shakin’ like—that’s the only time that I said I was ever scared. And Jim said, 'What the hell is the matter, Donnie?' I said, 'Nothing,' and from that time on, why it just went away. Just like you’d electrified me or something like that, the fear just left me. Then I dropped in these ten mortar shells and I went up the ropes..."


Ernest Platz

Columbus, WI
327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division


Joesph Reilly

Janesville, WI
Age 23
501st Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne Division


Hans Sannes

Stoughton, WI
Paratrooper, 101st Airborne Division
"There was no trees right near me, I came down a little--I couldn't see much…when you got down closer to the ground then you could see better…I don’t know how high we were when we jumped…but we may have been about five hundred, I don’t know.  It doesn't take long to get down.  Anyhow...I landed in a kind of a courtyard.  There was a vegetable garden over here, and I saw a couple of equipment bundles laying in that vegetable garden, and I thought 'well at least I jumped close to [a bundle].”


Kenneth Schumacher

Madison, WI
Age 21
Battery A, 413th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion
"You could see the stuff on the bombers and the planes strafing…and then the thousand-plane raids, they'd come over, the 24s and 17s. You'd see 'em, they'd come in a conversion…and they'd get in a pattern and go over, and you knew something big was going on."


Leonard Schutta

Milwaukee, WI
Age 23
467th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 8th Air Force
Omaha Beach pre-landings bombardment


Ivan Schwartz

Reedsburg, WI
Age 24
8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
"Fortunately we were landing at the Utah instead of the Omaha. Those poor guys there. We had sniper fire and some machine, but no problem...What grieved me so much was seeing some of those paratroopers hanging from a tree and shot to death. Never had a chance."


Victor Schwenn

Middleton, WI


Louis Stankus

Kenosha, WI
Age 25
999th Signal Service Company


Scott Stevenson

Merrill, WI
Age 22
Trained on glider landings
"All our officers were in front, and they were all killed before we stepped off.  And I know nobody knew how to turn down the ramp, and most of us jumped over the side and got out…a couple of guys in boats…were in twelve feet of water…almost everybody drowned because they were weighted down with...seventy pounds of stuff...Out of the whole company where I was with...I haven't seen one person since that time.  Not on the beach or afterwards."


Norbert Szymezak

Milwaukee, WI
Age 26
327th Glider Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division


Alfred Wedl

Milwaukee, WI
Age 21
LCI(L) - 516


Donald Wendt

Marshfield, WI
90th Division
"My shrapnel hit me in the back and went all the way through my lungs. All three lobes of the right lung were penetrated. Some shrapnel hit me in the back in the left side, and some shrapnel hit me in the left arm."


Ralph Woodward

Columbus, WI
Age 21
Co. C, 741st Tank Battalion, attached to the 1st Division on Omaha Beach
Woodward was in the driver’s seat of a Sherman tank DD, which was designed to float. “We were lucky we didn’t wash back against the ramp. I don’t think we went 100 feet, pretty soon the pipes started kinking, the struts started snapping back in the center, the canvas started tearing.” They were sinking. “When we hit bottom…The first thing that came to my mind was my folks will never know where the hell I’m at.”
(Source: Interview with Robert Rowe, July 17, 1987)


Albert Swack

Mineral Point, WI
Age 27
2nd Infantry Division


Ralph Zwicker

Stoughton, WI
Age 41
U.S. Army Ground Forces observer in a DUKW (A “Duck,” the type used for tours of the Wisconsin Dells) off Omaha Beach



Eugene E. Eckstam

Monroe, WI
Age 25
Medical Officer, LST - 391

There was a map in the wardroom and it was just like watching the war today on television.  They had just a chart there and all the troop movements were charted on a minute-by-minute basis, 24 hours a day. ... I was standing right in the wardroom watching the chart all the time. ... We could see the beach but we didn’t want to get close because a lot of shells were coming out from shore and occasionally we would drop anchor and you’d see a shell half-way between you and the beach and if the next one got a little closer we weighed anchor and got the heck out of there because as soon as we sailed the shell hit just where we had been so had we stayed there we’d have got blown up so we kept on dodging shells from shore for five days, day and night and general quarters almost constantly.

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