The World War II Foundation and Tim Gray Media is now in the post-production phase of ‘Omaha Beach: Honor and Sacrifice’. The documentary will be narrated by Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Broadcaster Tim McCarver.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the green 29th Infantry Division faced some of the most brutal fighting on Omaha Beach. In the “Dog Green” sector of Omaha, Company A and B of the 116th Infantry Regiment landed in the smallest and most heavily defended of the landing zones on Omaha Beach. The casualty rate in the first 15 minutes of their landing was running roughly 85%. Company A was decimated. Company B fared a bit better, but not by much (picture the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan). The opening scene of combat in the movie is based on where the men of the 116th landed at the base of the D-1 (Dog One) Draw (or paved route off the beach that led into the actual village of Vierville-sur-Mer).
The 116th landed at low-tide with about 300 yards of open beach to cover to get the bottom of a seawall.
Germans entrenched in 60 foot-high bluffs with mortars and MG 42 machine guns, which fired 15-hundred rounds a minute, had clear shots of the men as then came off their landing craft. Every inch of the beach was zeroed in with artillery as well. The men of the 29th suffered over 1,000 causalities on D-Day, the great majority came from the 116th Regiment at the D-1 Draw.
In June of 2014, a handful of remaining members of the 29th Infantry Division made a final trip back to Normandy to recognize the 70th anniversary of D-Day. The World War II Foundation was along as these veterans shared their stories and looked over the bluffs of Omaha Beach one last time. The aging veterans also visited the Normandy-American cemetery to say their final goodbyes to their friends who never left Omaha Beach alive on June 6, 1944. Local villages and towns also honored the men of D-Day with dozens of celebrations around Normandy.
Also prominately featured in this film is a soldier from the First Infantry Division (the Big Red One), who came ashore just down the beach and alongside the 29th Infantry on D-Day . Veterans of two previous landings in North Africa and Sicily, the 1st also experienced their own carnage and hell on Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Naval Combat Demolition Unit specialist (in the future they would be called Navy Seals) Ernie Corvese also came ashore on the eastern end of Omaha Beach. Ernie’s 8 man NCDU crew had the mission of clearing obstacles on Omaha before the 16th Infantry Regiment of the First Infantry Division landed. Of the 8 men in his crew, Ernie was the only one to survive.
On June 4, 2014 Ernie made his first return to Omaha Beach since that Day of Days in 1944. We were there to capture his emotional return and meeting with legendary television news anchor, Tom Brokaw. Ernie also visited some of his crew members on the Wall of the Missing at the Normandy-American cemetery.