The Utah Beach landing

This passage from The Maverick Outfit best describes what happened next:
A view of Utah Beach from a landing craft on D-Day 
The beach was littered with dead and wounded debris. Stricklen met another soldier and they were proceeding to the sea wall, a concrete structure about 200 yards from the beach. It was over five feet high and paralleled the beach. It was a natural place to establish headquarters. Stricklen and the soldier congratulated each other for getting to shore. The soldier was one and a half yards from the colonel when a piece of shrapnel tore off the soldier’s arm. Stricklen carried his unconscious comrade to an aid station. After, Stricklen set up his command post at the sea wall. He dug a three-and-a-half foot deep foxhole and then excavated an area underneath the sea wall. Stricklen’s units then began arriving. By 8 a.m., 32, or half of the battalion's half-tracks, arrived. The first elements of the battalion ashore on D-Day were reconnaissance parties from A and B Batteries, consisting of the battery commanders and platoon sergeants, who landed from LCVPs [landing craft, vehicle and personnel] At H plus 60 minutes. [The rest of] A and B Batteries landed at H-hour plus four behind the Fourth Infantry Division. They landed with airborne machine gun crews. One platoon of C Battery landed late on D-Day, while the other platoon of C Battery, D Battery and Headquarters Battery landed from LSTs on D plus one.
Jack’s memory varies from this slightly. H-hour was 6:30 a.m., according to Ambrose, so H plus four would have been 10:30 a.m. “I remember something about our particular half-track and 9 a.m.,” Jack says.

Capt. Herlihy picks up from here:
As we approached the shore, I could see GI trucks all over. One, full of jerricans of gasoline, was a roaring fire. It was about 9 a.m. when I saw three bursts in a line about three seconds apart, and admired the clearing of the minefield. But the next burst was in a truck, which went all over the area in pieces, and I had seen my first of many artillery actions in combat. To lighten the load of my jeep in the soft sand, I walked ashore, and although people were all around, I felt alone and naked. Utah Beach was about 300 yards wide, in front of a swamp at least a mile wide, with roads to the interior only eight inches above water.19
US troops arrive at Utah Beach on D-Day.
Jack adds, “There were some soldiers in foxholes on the beach as we passed by, although they were standing up and not moving, with their helmets tilted forward. There was no lack of incoming mail from the enemy, but it wasn’t landing on the beach next to the ocean. The gun crews kept hidden in the turrets to avoid being hit by enemy fire. To get off the beach, we had to wait until a tank equipped with a bulldozer blade pushed sand up against the wall so that another tank equipped with a 75mm canon could position itself and destroy an anti-tank position nearby; so much for the enemy gun.”

Back to Herlihy:
Although the 4th Division was by now several miles inland, we were getting considerable artillery fire. We raced for a four-foot sea wall at the crown of the beach, and found that the medics were already lining up dead Americans. I lay beside a tall, dead American and wondered what it was like when he came in. While we enlarged a hole we found, an ammo truck went up near us. We separated then, to look for the 16 gun positions and command posts. Since we had been landed about 1,000 yards south of the intended position, all our beautiful detailed sketches and maps (1 to 5,000 as I remember) were useless. As I roved I found myself all alone, and from the constant diving into holes, I found my carbine jammed with sand. Finally as I passed a tremendous pillbox which had been knocked out by naval gunfire, I heard a noise behind me. It turned out to be a German corpse, dislodged by a burst or by my footsteps, rolling down the side of the pillbox. Collecting my entrails, I moved on.20
Herlihy goes on to say that four Focke-Wulf 190s, German aircraft, strafed them that day. Jack remembers “four came down low and four ended up even lower. One of the pilots bailed out and the paratroopers took out after him.”

If you weren’t a casualty that day, you were witness to many, as Herlihy attests:
On D-Day, about noon, we saw a flight of C-47s head inland a mile or two, and as they slowed for a drop, much 20mm fire burst all over the wings and fuselages of the big, low, lumbering planes. We saw several burn and blow up. Flaming parachutes trailed down as the paratroops tried to escape the massacre. We all cried. As we explored the area inland just behind the swamp, looking for better positions, we followed a dirt road, and at a turn faced a farmhouse. An American squad of 10 or more from the 4th Division had done the same thing before, but had apparently been mowed down by a machine gun in a window, for they lay in a pile in a ditch next to the road. While I was by the sea wall waiting for Lt. Nevins, a P-47 sputtered overhead in trouble, then flames came from the motor and the pilot bailed out, but his chute never opened. The plane crashed with a great roar and explosion, 75 yards from our command post after turning away at the last minute.20
“I clearly remember the P-47 pilot who was flying very low, his plane’s engine making a very loud noise,” Jack recalls. “He ejected but his chute didn’t open, and both crashed into the swampy flooded area.”

Along about 11 p.m., all of Stricklen’s units had arrived, and not one had been killed. Battalion records for June 7—D-Day Plus One—show another busy day for the boys:
  • 9:30 a.m.—B Battery destroyed an enemy plane.
  • 10 a.m.—A and B engaged about a half-dozen FW 190s, with A destroying one and B another.
  • 6:50 p.m.—A destroyed two Me 109s.
  • 6:55 p.m.—B engaged three more and destroyed one.
  • 8:35 p.m.—C engaged eight FW 190s in a battle.
  • 8:40 p.m.—A hit two out of six FW 190s, while B fought off two more.
  • 10 p.m.—A and C engaged eight FW 190s, hitting two of them.
Already the 474th was gaining a reputation, which would later be confirmed in the Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for soldiers, as “the First in the First.”21 

This video juxtaposes how Utah Beach looks today (including memorials) with actual photos taken on D-Day:

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