Finally, the last post about the Summer ’14 France trip!

We had a fitting end to our French nuclear facilities tour with a day paying tribute to our American heroes who fought alongside the Allied forces in WWII in Normandy.  We started out in Sainte-Mère-Église, then made our way to Pointe du Hoc.  The Pointe du Hoc is a cliff atop a promontory separating Utah Beach (to the west) and Omaha Beach (to the east).

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On D-Day, American paratroopers landed on both Utah and Omaha Beaches.  A group of Army Rangers also scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc and captured the Pointe from the Germans.

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The Germans had really hunkered down in Pointe du Hoc.  There were numerous gun mounts, surrounded by concrete trenches where the soldiers could hide.

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There were also a number of bunkers looking out toward the English Channel.  We walked down into a dark, cavernous bunker where soldiers would have slept.

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The remains of some of the collapsed bunkers show how sturdily these things were built.  This wasn’t merely reinforced concrete, but reinforced with steel I-beams.

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The landscape at Pointe du Hoc is pock-marked with what initially appear to be rolling hills — then you realize that these divots were created by explosives and grenades.  It was surreal to see how warfare permanently altered the landscape.

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Our final stop was at the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach.  The beach is so soft-hued and subtle, it’s hard to imagine all the bloodshed that occurred.  Yet, one gains an appreciation for what a great disadvantage the paratroopers faced, having to scale cliffs or climb up this steep, vegetated hill to face the sturdily bunkered-down Germans.  That kind of courage is so rare anymore.

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