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Stories of Omaha Beach

This tour visits the graves of five individuals from the 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

The 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions landed at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, D-Day, against fierce German defenses. This tour will share the personal stories of several individuals from those divisions that participated in the landings at Omaha and the Normandy Campaign.

Arthur B. Buschlen

Arthur B. Buschlen

16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Ohio

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot B, Row 19, Grave 4

1st Infantry Division assault troops aboard an LCVP approaching Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

Sgt. Arthur B. Buschlen was born in Gladwin, Mich. in 1915, to Amelia Brandt and Gilion Buschlen. He first fought with the 16thInfantry Regiment, 1stInfantry Division in the campaigns in North Africa and Sicily, and received a Bronze Star for his actions in the Sicilian Campaign. He was already a combat veteran when, on June 1, 1944, Buschlen and other soldiers from the 16thInfantry Regiment left their D-Camps to board amphibious assault ships at Port Weymouth. Units were assigned to the amphibious assault ships USS Samuel Chase, USS Henrico and the HMS Empire Anvilon the eve of their third amphibious landing of the war.

U.S. assault on Omaha Beach on D-Day, 6 June 1944. 16th Infantry Regiment.

Buschlen was in the first wave of the 16thInfantry Regiment known as Force O. The “Big Red One” was to land on Easy Red and Fox Green sectors of Omaha Beach.

Approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day, Buschlen attempted to save two wounded men when their boat capsized under heavy enemy fire. He was hit several times and was severely wounded. In spite of his wounds, Buschlen attempted to salvage equipment that became entangled in the barbed wire barriers of the English Channel, before succumbing to his injuries. For his conspicuous gallantry and heroic actions, Buschlen was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

As the first wave to land at Omaha, the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division leave their Coast Guard landing boat amidst enemy fire.

Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star

Distinguished Service Cross

Arthur B. Buschlen is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot B, Row 19, Grave 4.

Frank D. Peregory

Frank D. Peregory

116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division

Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Virginia

Died:

6/14/1944

Grave Location:

Plot G, Row 21, Grave 7

TSgt. Frank D. Peregory was born April 10, 1916 in Esmont, Va. and grew up in a in Albemarle County, Va.

Aerial view of Isigny-sur-Mer, c. 1944.

On D-Day, Peregory landed with the 116thInfantry Regiment on Omaha Beach. After breaking out of the Vierville Draw, his regiment turned right and headed up the coast to link up with units of the 4thDivision landing on Utah Beach.

On June 8, 1944, Peregory advanced with his company on the strongly held German posts at Grandcamp, France. The German defenses halted the advance, raining down machine-gun fire from a firmly entrenched position overlooking the town. Supporting artillery and tank fire proved futile. Taking full initiative and under continuous fire, Peregory advanced up the hill towards a crest where an entrenchment leading to the main enemy fortifications lay. He leaped into the trench and came upon a squad of German soldiers. Peregory attacked them with his bayonet, threw hand grenades, and managed to kill eight Germans, after which three enemy soldiers surrendered. Peregory would force 32 more riflemen to surrender,  capture the machine gunners, and successfully clear the way for his battalion to continue the advance. 

Six days after his courageous and heroic act, Peregory was killed in action while the division was securing Isigny and attempting to move to St. Lo, which took five weeks of intense combat to liberate.  He was 28 years old.

Rededication of the Virginia National Guard's training complex in Tech. Sgt. Frank D. Peregory's honor.
Honorary marker in Charlottesville, VA for Peregory.

Awards: Medal of Honor, Soldier’s Medal, Purple Heart

Medal of Honor

Frank D. Peregory is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot G, Row 21, Grave 7.

Amin Isbir

Amin Isbir

United States Naval Reserve

Coxswain, U.S. Navy

Entered the Service from:

Pennsylvania

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot G, Row 23, Grave 22

Coxswain Amin Isbir was the oldest of eleven children and joined the U.S. Navy before being activated for duty as a member of the famed 6thNavy Beach Battalion that trained exclusively for Operation Overlord, the Allied permanent re-entry into Continental Europe.

On January 7, 1944, after six months of intensive amphibious warfare training at Fort Pierce and Camp Bradford, Isbir and his battalion traveled overseas on the SSMauritaniato the UK in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.

Men from Company A, 6th Naval Beach Battalion. NBBs were issued a mixture of Army and Navy uniforms and equipment, which is why most are wearing Army-style foul weather rubber gear. England, c.1944.

In support of the 16thRegimental Combat Team, 1stInfantry Division, the 6thNaval Beach Battalion had the mission of providing battlefield medicine, establishing shore-to-ship communications, marking sea lanes, making emergency boat repairs, assisting in the removal of underwater obstructions, directing the landings and evacuating the casualties in the eastern Omaha Beach sectors, code-named Easy Red, Fox Green and Fox Red.

A Naval Beach Battalion communications section in action at a Slapton Sands practice landing. Devon, England.

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Isbir was onboard LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) #88 heading on an eastern course towards Omaha Beach, Easy Red One sector.  During the landing, LCI #88 came under heavy fire, losing one of its two ramps along with a number of soldiers. Isbir was one of the first men down the remaining port side ramp.  A short time later, as they were placing a fallen soldier onto a stretcher, a shell from a huge German railway gun landed onto the beach hurling a military truck into the air.  The truck landed on Isbir, killing him instantly.

2nd Naval Beach Battalion signalman directs a ship heading for shore. He stands in front of the Utah Beach sea wall. Some steel beach obstacles are visible, most likely bulldozed up out of the way.

Due to continued hostilities, Isbir’s body was not recovered until two days later. His death was then mistakenly listed as June 8, 1944, two days after he was killed in action.

The LCI #88 that Isbir disembarked from onto Omaha Beach.
Amin Isbir's headstone with the incorrect date of death. It reads, "June 8 1944".

With the help of his family and the U.S. Navy’s POW/MIA Casualty Assistance Division, the correct date of death became official on April 28, 2008. In 2009, 65 years after Isbir’s death, the American Battle Monuments Commission replaced the misdated stone with a corrected one.

The new, corrected headstone, which replaced the old headstone in 2008.
French Croix de Guerre with Palm Leaf that was awarded to Isbir's Battalion for participation in the assault on Omaha Beach.

Amin Isbir is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot G, Row 23, Grave 22.

Frank B. Vandenberg

Frank B. Vandenberg

16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Private First Class, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Michigan

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot I, Row 15, Grave 18

Pvt. Frank B. Vandenberg was born on December 28, 1917, in Phelps, Mich. He graduated from East Jordan High School in 1937 and worked with his brothers and sisters on the family ranch for three years. He then moved to Detroit, Mich. where he started working for the Detroit Lumber Company until he was drafted in 1941 at the age of 24. 

Pfc. Frank B. Vandenberg (right) poses for a portrait in uniform.

During training Vandenberg was preparing for the invasion of Europe, first with the 30th Infantry Division and then with the 1st Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Big Red One.” On November 1, 1942, the 1st Infantry Division landed on the coast of Algeria as part of Operation Torch. 

An LCVP carries GIs of the 1st Infantry Division on its way to Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.
An American medical officer bandages the hand of an American soldier at Omaha Beach. 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, June 6, 1944.

Following the surrender of Tunisia, the 1st Division made its way towards Sicily in Operation Husky. The division eventually captured Troina in Sicily and opened the Allied road to the straits of Messina. During preparations for D-Day, Vandenberg and his regiment carried out some of the most realistic training ever done for the Normandy Invasion. On June 6, 1944, Vandenberg and the “Big Red One” landed on Omaha Beach. His company was scheduled for the infantry assault wave following Company E and F at H+30 minutes. They reached land in the face of heavy enemy fire. As Company G made their way to higher ground, Vandenberg was shot and killed by German gunfire.  He was 26 years old.

Awards: Purple Heart

Frank B. Vandenberg is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot I, Row 15, Grave 18.

Jimmie W. Monteith Jr.

Jimmie W. Monteith Jr.

16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

First Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Virginia

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot I, Row 20, Grave 12

1stLt. Jimmie W. Monteith Jr. was a six-foot two-inch redhead. When America entered the war, Monteith joined the Army in Richmond, Va. and attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga.

1st Lt. Jimmie W. Monteith, Jr. poses in uniform in 1938.
While at Fort McClellan, Monteith said the theater was "one of the most impressive sights that I have ever seen." After his death, the amphitheater was renamed "In Lasting Memory of Jimmie W. Monteith."

As a member of the 1stInfantry Division, he saw battle in North Africa and Sicily. When his unit was transferred to England in November 1943, he began preparations for the Normandy Invasion. His platoon landed on the Fox Green Sector of Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Under heavy enemy fire, Monteith, without any regard for his own personal safety, moved up and down the beach to reorganize the ranks for a further advance. Leading his men towards a narrow ledge across the flat, Monteith found the comparative safety of a cliff. Leaving his men to recoup, he returned to the beach to lead two tanks that were blinded by enemy fire through a minefield over exposed terrain into firing positions. He then rejoined his company on the cliff, and led them in the capture of an advantageous position on the hill. Attempting to hold onto the position, Monteith fought off vicious counterattacks and repeatedly crossed 200 yards of exposed terrain to strengthen his defensive chain. However, the German resistance was too strong and he was killed by enemy fire after being surrounded.

Monteith in his light khaki uniform while in the United States before shipping overseas.

For his gallantry he received the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart. An Army Reserve Center in Richmond was named after him along with an outpost for the U.S. Army in Kosovo.  

Monteith and his mom in the United States before shipping overseas.

Awards: Medal of Honor, Purple Heart

Medal of Honor

Jimmie W. Monteith Jr. is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot I, Row 20, Grave 12.

Henry S. Golas

Henry S. Golas

2nd Ranger Battalion

First Sergeant, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Rhode Island

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot J, Row 6, Grave 4

Specially marked 2nd Ranger Battalion helmet that was not 1st Sgt. Henry S. Golas but was similar to a helmet that he would have worn with other defining markers.

1stSgt. Henry S. Golas was a member of the 2ndRanger Battalion that was assigned the mission of mounting the cliffs and attacking the guns of Pointe du Hoc.

Golas and Lt. Saloman, with the rest of the 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion.

After marrying his wife, Genevieve, he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Golas volunteered for the 2ndRanger Battalion, a  group of men known for their incredible physical and mental fitness. Golas advanced through the ranks and was soon promoted to first sergeant of Company ‘C’.

In preparation for D-Day, the men of the 2ndRanger Battalion were trained to scale the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc and at Pointe de la Percée. It was a dangerous but necessary mission to be carried out. He trained with his men for a year before heading to Normandy.

The 2nd Ranger Battalion marches in Weymouth, Dorset, England to the embarkation area for Normandy on June 1, 1944.
Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, the objective of the 2nd Ranger Battalion on D-Day.

The 2ndBattalion landed at Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6. Witnesses confirm that Golas never made it to the cliffs. He paused at the water’s edge to help and encourage his men. As Ronald Lane describes in his book Rudder’s Rangers, “Golas was still at the water’s edge when suddenly he was hit by machine gun bullets. He raised his rifle and started charging across the sand, determined and in pain. The German machine gunner continued to fire, hitting Golas with every step he took. He fell to his knees, tried to raise his rifle but couldn’t, and then he fell forward as though with his last breath he wanted to continue the charge.”

2nd Ranger Battalion helmet marking a fallen Ranger after the Battle of Pointe du Hoc.

Awards: Purple Heart

Henry S. Golas is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot J, Row 6, Grave 4.

John H. Mathews

John H. Mathews

16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Florida

Died:

6/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot H, Row 19, Grave 8

Lt. Col. John Hubert Mathews was born in the small lumber town of Cass, W.Va. He graduated from West Point in 1931.  Before his departure for service in World War II, Mathews was stationed at Fort Devens, Texas and resided there with his wife and daughter.  

The Mathews family c. 1940.
The Mathews family at their home in Texas, c. 1940. Mathews snaps a photo of his daughter.

Prior to D-Day, the “Big Red One” had already seen a lot of action. The division had landed in North Africa in November 1942, fighting its way east through the Tunisian Campaign. The 1stthen took part in the amphibious landings at Gela, Sicily in July 1943. The fighting in Sicily was hard and Mathews earned both a Distinguished Service Cross and a Silver Star for his actions in Troina, where his regiment battled for the town. On D-Day, the 16thInfantry, 1stInfantry Division was one of the first waves to land on Omaha Beach. He was hit by enemy machine gun fire in the landing before reaching the shore. Mathews was the highest-ranking 1stDivision officer killed on D-Day. He was 36 years old.

Mathews' daughter, Barbara, and his wife, Dolores, look at a photo of Mathews after his death.
One of Mathews' daughters, Marianne, stands with her father‚ ôs headstone at Normandy.

Awards: Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Distinguished Service Cross

John H. Mathews is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot H, Row 19, Grave 8.