(Editor’s Note: Per U.S. Army Special Operations Command embed guidelines, Alex Quade, who was embedded with the Rangers in this story, is now allowed to show these Operators’ faces, partial names as listed on their nametags in public, and share their stories; a PAO monitored every interview, to make sure there was no release of techniques, tactics or procedures.)
POINTE DU HOC, NORMANDY, FRANCE — Patriotism, service, sacrifice: these are the themes one hears often during this 4th of July holiday weekend. President Barack Obama gave specific examples of these themes, when he praised the “Greatest Generation” of veterans from World War Two and tied-in this current “9/11 Generation” of warriors and veterans, at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, three weeks ago in Normandy, France.
“This generation — this 9/11 Generation of service members — they, too, felt something; they answered the same call; they said ‘I’ll go.’ And for more than a decade, they have endured tour after tour,” Obama said.
Then the President singled out one young Ranger in particular.
“Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg has served ten. I’ve told Cory’s incredible story before, most recently when he sat with my wife, Michelle, at the State of the Union Address. But it was here, at Omaha Beach, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, where I first met Cory and his fellow Army Rangers, right after they made their own jump into Normandy.”
Five years ago, on the 65th anniversary of D-Day, I was an embedded reporter with Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg and his Ranger brothers, as they explored the windy cliffs of Normandy and explained what this place and this moment meant to them.
“The overall bigger picture is something incredible, like liberating another country. I’m excited, you can’t replicate that feeling. It’s so cool to come out here. This is legitimately a once in a lifetime opportunity to come out, especially with some of these old vets out here, there’s this 2nd Ranger battalion guy who scaled Pointe du Hoc,” Ranger Remsburg said.
“You see this in movies. ‘The Longest Day’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, but until you actually walk here, you can’t truly appreciate what happened. To think 65 years ago, this was a scene of complete & utter chaos,” Ranger Fogle said.
The elite, battle-hardened men shared their “human” side. They called this place their “Mecca”.
“The impossible mission: they kept trying to assault the cliffs, and everyone was getting wiped out. Down on the beach they were like, ‘We have to get those cliffs’, and that’s where the phrase ‘Rangers Lead the Way’ comes from. He turned around and said, ‘Rangers lead the way!’ 2nd & 5th came up, took a lot of losses, but they got it done,” Ranger Fogle explained.
Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsbug and his team honored their Ranger forefathers by scooping sand into Ziploc baggies to keep with them from Omaha Beach, and by running along the cliffs that morning.
“Ran up Omaha Beach, with no equipment on, just doing some PT, and we were smoked by the time we got to the top,” Ranger Lambert said.
Ranger Bruinsma chimed in: “By time we got to top, we were like, ‘Damn!’”
“So here it’s even worse, you’ve got to put a grappling hook onto something and hoist yourself up while the enemy is shooting down,” Ranger Lambert added.
Ranger Bruinsma chimed back in: “…Scale a hundred foot wall, get shot at the whole time, then come up here and kick their ass,” he said of their Ranger forefathers at the exact location.