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Iowans at D-Day: Iowa Time Machine June 6, 1944

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On June 6, 1944, hundreds of Iowans participated in the D-Day invasion of France. In the air as paratroopers, on the beaches as combatants, and in the aftermath as medics, Iowans served with distinction in the largest amphibious landing in military history.

In advance of 5,000 ships landing 160,000 troops on five beaches in northern France, 12,000 aircraft took to the skies to drop paratroopers. Paratrooper Henry Langrehr of Clinton found himself on a C-47 headed across the English Channel. While flack cut the transport plane over St. Mere-Eglise, Langrehr, and ten others found themselves in the air far from the intended drop zone. Langrehr shattered the roof of a greenhouse on the way down and eventually took fire from a tank. Captured, Langrehr spent time in a POW camp before Allied forces eventually arrived.

21-year-old Verle Buck of Jubilee, Iowa (Black Hawk County) found himself on a landing craft and destined to serve in the first wave of American soldiers at Omaha Beach. After losing several leaders in his landing boat to German fire, the gate dropped, and Buck rushed to the beach. “There was no way you could swim that English Channel. You had to go.” While men fell around him, Buck managed to make his way up the beach to help turn the tide of the war.

Centerville’s Ray Simmons prepared to rush the beach without a weapon as the next wave of landing-craft bobbed in the surf. A Seventh-Day Adventist serving as a non-combatant medic, Simmons hoped to help those injured in the initial action on Omaha Beach. Miraculously, Simmons managed to cross the beach under heavy fire and establish a medic station on top of a 100-foot bluff to administer care.

Hundreds of other Iowans proudly served and sacrificed as a part of the D-Day invasion of Europe and in World War II. The stories of the brave echo through history as a reminder of a time when many stepped up to take meaningful actions in the pursuit of protecting the American dream. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar 


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