November 09, 2019
The Church Pinnacle Paratrooper
looking on Youtube at the
back stories of the famous movie about D-Day called "The Longest Day,"
At the 20 min, 24 sec. marker, I found the amazing true story of an
American paratrooper portrayed in the film. Most of this tale below is
from Wikipedia, with some embellishments from myself.
Thirty-one year old John Steele "
was the American paratrooper (from the 82nd Airborne Division)
who landed on the pinnacle
of the church tower in Sainte-Mère-Église
, the first village in Normandy
liberated by the United States Army
, June 6, 1944."
This was a night time jump into a German occupied area and Pvt. Steele
found himself in a very awkward situation. Many of his fellow
paratroopers had been shot dead as they attempted to land - and he
himself was wounded. Steele saw that he needed to play "dead" for two
hours in order that the Germans wouldn't shoot him immediately as he
hung there like an American style Halloween decoration.The Germans eventually realized he was alive and took him prisoner, but he escaped two days later. Steele "rejoined his division when US troops of the 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment attacked the village, capturing thirty Germans and killing another eleven. He was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the Purple Heart for being wounded in combat."
Pvt. Steele "continued to visit the town throughout his life and was an honorary citizen of Ste. Mère Église. The tavern, Auberge John Steele,
stands adjacent to the square and maintains his memory through photos,
letters and articles hung on its walls." The church has hung an effigy
of him from one of their church towers that can be seen in this photo. In fact, the church has created a stained glass window of Mother Mary
holding the Baby Jesus with both of them surrounded by three descending
In the movie "The Longest Day" Red Buttons portrays Pvt. Steele and he was in the first version of the video game Call of Duty.
move can I add to this? I am grateful that I was able to find this
story of an amazing veteran who was lucky to have survived his perilous
jump in the early morning hours of D-Day in Normandy and briefly retell
what he did - and retell of the French gratitude for his feats - for
this Veterans Day.
Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at
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Excellent, Jack. Thanks for this! We can never, or should never, have too much WWII history reminders.
Posted by: Dana Mathewson at November 09, 2019 11:54 AM (V1LVp)
Great story Jack; tnks!
I can't imagine hanging there for hours like a bird in a butcher shop. Must have been terrifying.
Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at November 10, 2019 11:50 AM (Ihhkc)
Sure must have, Tim. But the boys we sent to war in those days became men, very quickly.
It's a good thing we aren't having to send kids the same age today, when you look at our "millennials." The Allies'd have lost the war for sure!
Posted by: Dana Mathewson at November 10, 2019 09:45 PM (SLw7P)
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