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D-Day

  • 75th Anniversary of D-Day

     

    American Troops-approaching the beaches of German occupied Normandy France.

    Midnight, 5thofJune 1944 turned into 6th of June 1944, and a huge formation of aircraft flew in the nighttime sky above the English Channel heading from the English airfields south towards the coast of France carrying over 13,000 American Airborne troops. The heavily loaded young paratroopers were on board their C-47 transport aircraft by 10 pm that night. As the formation of aircraft crossed the French coast, the night came alive with anti aircraft fire. Planes that were hit, headed down in flames taking troops with them. By 1 AM on the morning of the 6th    June, the men began parachute jumping from the planes and silently floated to the ground to meet the German enemy in total darkness. The Douglas C-47 transport brought the war to Hitler’s doorstep and the liberation from German tyranny- the beginning of the end of WW II.

    USArmy Pathfinders, June 1944

    As hundreds of C-47s flew in darkness, the largest naval invasion fleet ever assembled moved through the sea channels between England and France towards the French coast. Thousands of vessels, many designed specifically for the mission at hand, carried men and machines to be delivered to the beaches of France. As dawn broke on the morning of June 6th, 1944 German defense artillery cannon units woke to find the horizon blotted out by the advancing fleet. The Allies had caught the German Army by surprise. Hitler’s generals had expected the invasion to come ashore at Calais, France, over 150 miles to the northeast, the shortest distance between England and France. Instead, the Allies had invaded France at beach sectors over a 50-mile stretch of the northern French Normandy coastline, the farthest distance across the channel between England and France.

    American citizen soldiers crossing the English Channel, June 1944

    Never before in the history of warfare had there been a more ambitious plan. The invasion required the movement of hundreds of thousands of men across the English Channel. Nearly 500,000 vehicles from jeeps, tanks, and trucks to artillery were delivered to storage areas throughout England for loading onto ships. Ammunition, fuel, and medical supplies were also sent to provide troops on the beaches marching inland to fight the Germans.

    2nd Infantry Division on the East Side sector of Omaha Beach, D+1, June 7th, 1944

    At the dawn of June 6th, 1944, many would never live to see the sun set. Thousands would die with their first steps onto French soil and thousands more would be wounded. The determination and will of the American citizen soldiers proved too much for the German defenses and the Americans broke through. German generals knew that if they did not push the Allies back into the sea that day, Germany’s war would be lost and in less than a year, it was. By May of 1945, Hitler was dead, and the Allied armies of America, Britain, Canada, France, and Russia were in Berlin, the German capital.

    Paratrooper about to jump into battle.

    Seventy-five years ago, while the free world held its breath, young men dropped from the sky and stepped from landing craft into combat. Today on a hill above the Normandy beach at Colleville sur Mer, over 9,000 graves in the American Cemetery bear silent witness to the events of June 6gh, 1944. Their lasting legacy is our Freedom.

    Today Cockpit USA honors the men who made the ultimate sacrifice by partnering with the pilots, crews, and sponsors of the D-Day Squadron for the 75thanniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy France. The “D-Day Squadron” as they call themselves, is the largest assembly of authentic WWII C-47 military transport aircraft and paratroopers since that fateful day.

    Dynamic Aviations Crew wearing their Cockpit USA 75th Anniversary D-Day A-2 jackets while in front of the C47 Miss Virginia 2019.

     

    D-Day Squadron Flight Crews in Prestwick Scottland on the way to the Duxford England while wearing Cockpit USA's 75th Anniversary Limited Edition D-Day Jacket.

    Our 75thAnniversary Limited Edition D-Day Jacket  is conceived to honor the 75th anniversary of the service and sacrifice of the American citizen soldiers who risked it all to bring about the end of WWII in Europe.

  • 70th Anniversary of D-Day

    Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied soldiers landing on the beaches of Normandy. Without the sacrifice these brave men made, the world would not be where it is today.  Cockpit USA takes a moment of silence to remember the courage and sacrifice these incredible men made for their country and for the world.

    Into the Jaws of Death, Photo by Robert F. Sargent Into the Jaws of Death, Photo by Robert F. Sargent
  • Movie Monday: The Dirty Dozen

    Based on a novel of the same name by E.M. Nathanson, The Dirty Dozen is a 1967  film based on what was once thought a real group called 'The Filthy Thirteen'. Directed by Robert Aldrich of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? fame, this  pre D-Day WWII movie tells a captivating story of twelve convicts recruited specifically for a top secret mission. With the promise of their sentences being commuted, the long serving felons agree to take part in a pre-invasion mission to infiltrate and attack a meeting of dozens of high rankingNazi officers in order to reduce German response to D-Day. Filmed entirely in England and starring Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Jim Brown and John Cassavetes, the film was received by critics as both bold and gruesome, and considered controversial in its very explicit depiction of the horrors of war. While it may not be a lighthearted watch, The Dirty Dozen is certainly a Cockpit USA classic not to be missed.

  • America At Its Best: SS Jeremiah O’Brien

    Despite weighing in at an astounding 10,000-tonnes, the gargantuan SS Jeremiah O'Brien was built by San Francisco’s ship workers in under eight weeks in 1943. Upon entering service, she played a pivotal part in WWII, embarking on seven voyages around the world to England, Northern Ireland, South America, India and Australia. Along with these crossing, the O'Brien made eleven trips across the English Channel to Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion, dodging U-boats as she went. After lengthy restoration, this  empress of the seas is the only remaining fully operational Liberty Ship of the 2710 launched during the war. Fully seaworthy as certified by the U.S. Coast Guard, the O'Brien is now a memorial monument, moored at Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf and open to the public on most days, making it a must visit on the Cockpit USA 'See America' tour. Visitors are able to explore the entire ship and even see the 2500 horsepower, triple expansion steam engine in full operation on the third weekend of every month. Yet another excuse to go to San Francisco!

     

  • This Day in WWII: D-Day

    On this very day in 1944, the Normandy Landings commenced. Known as the beginning of the end of WWII, it was on this momentous day that Britain, Canada and the United States of America joined forces in France to invade and conquer the Germans. Also known as Operation Overlord, the land, air and sea attacks were coordinated by the British Lt. General Frederick Morgan with the American General, Dwight D. Eisenhower chosen as the Supreme Allied Commander to lead the Allied forces into Normandy in an operation that would spread across Europe into Germany. An excess of 2,800,00 Allied soldiers boarded more than 10,000 planes and thousands of vessels, with each group assigned different points of invasion of which U.S. forces were to land and fight on the beaches of Omaha and Utah. Forever remembered as the day which began the end,  June 6 1944 is a date which Cockpit USA will always regard with respect and honor.


  • Movie Monday: The Longest Day

    A movie of epic proportions, The Longest Day recounts the WWII D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944 from all five invasion invasion sectors which constructed the gargantuan operation. Based on Cornelius Ryan's history book of the same moniker, it is the uncompromising authenticity of this star studded film that sets it apart from its counterparts. In place of modern day movie sentimentality and dramatic embellishment is a careful moment by moment build up to and execution of the day's momentous events from the interwoven viewpoints of Allied and Axis forces and the Free French Resistance. Alongside the big Hollywood names which appeared on screen, including Richard Burton, Sean Connery, John Wayne and Henry Fonda, were the behind the scenes military advisors who assisted in the production of the film and were actual participants in the Normandy Landings giving The Longest Day its much revered credibility. As devotees to maintaining the real McCoy in the production of our flight jackets, Cockpit USA are fans of the historical genuineness of this legendary movie making it a Movie Monday favorite!

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