5th Ranger Battalion
Plot I, Row 20, Grave 14
Technician 5thClass Elmo E. Banning was only 22 years old when he waded ashore on Omaha Beach with the 5thRanger Battalion on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Inducted into service in 1943, he landed in Liverpool, England with B Company and the rest of the 5thRanger Battalion for intense training. They trained with the British commandos for five tough months at various locations in Northern England and Scotland.
Banning was in Ranger Force C, which was made up of A and B companies of the 2ndRanger Battalion and the entire 5thRanger Battalion. Their mission was to land behind three companies of 2nd Rangers who would climb and capture Pointe du Hoc, and then destroy the 155mm guns positioned there by the Germans. Because of a storm, smoke and confusion, the 5thRanger Battalion and Banning were diverted to Dog Red sector of Omaha Beach. Terrified, wet and exhausted,Banning, B Company and the rest of the 5thRangers came into the view of legendary Brig. Gen. Norman Cota of the 29thDivision, who was strolling on the beach seemingly unaffected by the mortal danger around him. Cota exhorted the Rangers amidst the machine gun fire, exploding mortar rounds and artillery barrage. He asked the young men, “What outfit is this?” When given the reply “Rangers” he said, “Well, goddammit, if you’re Rangers, get up and lead the way!” “Lead the Way” later became the motto of the Rangers. They climbed the bluffs, fought hand-to-hand and captured the German defensive positions opening the way for the 29thDivision.
Banning was killed in action during an artillery barrage that day, and just a few months later, his brother Lyle died in the war.
Awards: Purple Heart
Elmo E. Banning is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot I, Row 20, Grave 14.