Grey Beard Biker’s last blog post on Principles of Self-Defense dealt with Imminence. This post will deal specifically with Proportionality – the third component of a successful self-defense claim if you use deadly force. In review, here are the five components which must all be answered affirmatively for you to prove you acted in self-defense:
From a law enforcement and legal perspective, pulling a gun during a fist fight would not be considered a proportional response. Doing so would fail the third component and would certainly put you at risk of being charged and spending time in prison. But before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a look at weapons that are always considered deadly:
Guns and other firearms
That is the entire list. So, would it be correct to assume only these projectile weapons are considered deadly? NO! Common items can be used as a contact weapon and be deadly: baseball bats, hammers, clubs, walking canes, bowling balls, bricks, tire irons, etc. Even one’s fists can be used to deadly effect if the attacker is much larger, he’s choking you or you are no longer able to defend yourself. But the use of any of these other weapons would have to clear the AOJ Triad hurdle in order to be considered deadly-force:
Ability – The attacker has the ability to cause death or grave bodily harm
Opportunity – The attacker can get to you with the force to cause death or grave bodily harm
Jeopardy – The attacker intends to do grave harm to you
As an example, if you were having an argument at a softball game with the batter and he poked you in the chest with his bat, he would have ability and opportunity. But unless he intended to attack you violently with it (jeopardy), you could not immediately resort to using deadly force. Your self-defense claim would fail the third leg of the triad.
Now, if you were approached in an alley by a thug carrying the same bat, and he gets in your face, saying he’s going to kill you, the shit-bag has ability, opportunity and there is most certainly jeopardy. In this scenario, your use of deadly force should be considered justified. But only if you are innocent. You cannot be the person who started the altercation, you have to be in a place you are legally allowed to be and the threat to your life has to be imminent.
The last thing which must be considered is escalation of force. If you are arguing with someone and they throw the first punch, you have the right to defend yourself with non-lethal force. Your fists would be the most logical response. But if you are overpowered and the attacker is on top of you, pounding you in the face, this could represent a deadly threat or an attack which could cause grave bodily harm – the amount of force has escalated and you have the should have the right to protect yourself with escalated force. But again, you must be the innocent party.
My son-in-law is a sheriff’s deputy in Florida. He carries roughly 25 pounds of gear on his belt when he is working. His defensive tools include pepper spray, a TASER and his service pistol. Law enforcement officers are trained to use what’s called the “continuum of force.” This would involve going up-and-down the ladder of lethality of their available tools. Their first tool is yelling, “Stop!” This is obviously everyone’s first tool. Next would be pepper spray, then their TASER and lastly their service pistol. Obviously, if they are experiencing an imminent threat from a gun wielding robber, they are not going to start by pulling out their pepper spray or yelling, “Stop!” But if, during a routine traffic stop, the person becomes belligerent, they may well go to the pepper spray and escalate force as necessary. This is a useful illustration because many civilians often carry only their fists and their firearm. And while some of you may carry a knife, as your lovable Grey Beard Biker always does, don’t fall into the potential legal trap of thinking it is considered less lethal than your pistol. If you are in close combat with a thug, pulling your knife is the same a pulling a gun and can certainly be considered an escalation of force. Remember, from a legal perspective, it is just a deadly as your gun.
So, what other non-lethal weapons should you consider carrying? Pepper spray is the most obvious. It is quite effective and will give you time to separate yourself from the bad guy and call 911. But pulling pepper spray may also be considered an escalation of force if the threat is not imminent. Case law in many states has shown that juries will convict a criminal of aggravated assault if they use pepper spray in the commission of a crime. So, remember, you must always be the innocent party before you do so. Another tool which you might consider is a key chain mounted kubotan. A kubotan is essentially a mini-club and is quite effective at taking the fight out of an attacker if used correctly. But training and speed are essential with such a tool. And again, you will still need to be the innocent party in order to justify your use of a kubotan – and it must be used only when an escalation of force is required.
In summary, you cannot use force that is not proportional to the force an attacker is using against you. During a fight, your attacker may escalate their force against you, and you may escalate proportionally to their force.
Watch for the next Grey Beard Biker blog post on Avoidance!
The Grey Beard Biker
Note: Neither the Grey Beard Biker or Michael are an attorney. While he has been involved in self-defense for many years, this article is provided for informational purposes only. Check with an attorney to understand your state’s laws.
This article was originally published in Thunder Roads Tennessee/Kentucky magazine and is used with permission. It was written by Michael Noirot – a/k/a the Grey Beard Biker.
Other articles in this series can be read by clicking on the following links:
Today, the Grey Beard Biker sends the following open letter to Ms. Megan Rapinoe. Congratulations on being another idiotic celebrity whose narcissistic love for themselves know no bounds. You truly are a despicable human being.
Ms. Megan Rapinoe U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team 1801 S. Prairie Ave. Chicago, IL 60616-1319
June 12, 2019
Dear Ms. Rapinoe,
I am writing you today because of your childish antics before the start of yesterday’s game against Thailand at the World Cup France 2019. Like so many athletes and celebrities, you have chosen to use a sanctioned event as a stage to display your intolerance. You are in a unique position, admired by children, teenagers and young adults, alike. With your unique position you have a responsibility to your country – a responsibility to act like a mature adult and show respect to our national symbol – the American Flag.
Us Americans back home do not care if you have come out as gay. We admire your courage doing so. We also do not care if you dislike our president, Donald J. Trump. But, he is your president – and this is your country. The people of this vast, great country are largely God fearing, love their homeland and honor their military. For you to ignore our National Anthem, while representing the United States on foreign soil, is beyond disgusting.
Quoting from your recent interview, “I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.” – Megan Rapinoe, Yahoo News – May 2019.
This old Grey Beard Biker gives you credit. You did exactly what you said you would do. And while a small minority of social justice warriors applaud your actions, you’re an embarrassment to patriots all over the United States.
But you were not done spouting your nasty rhetoric. In the interview, you went on to say, “Because I’m as talented as I am, I get to be here, you don’t get to tell me if I can be here or not. So it’s kind of a good ‘fuck you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the Trump administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him. Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really Scary. Ahh, disturbing.”
Your narcissism knows no limits. But obviously your intelligence does. Interest in soccer – be it youth, high school, collegiate or professional – has grown dramatically in the United States. Stars like yourself have contributed to its rise in popularity. But a stupid act, like yours yesterday, can start to chip away at the sport quickly. U.S. Soccer recognized this immediately, issuing a new rule requiring all players “stand and honor the flag.” – A very proper response.
But your response to their new rule was equally as asinine as your antics on field, “Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly. I think the NFL does it. I felt like the statement from U.S. Soccer, and then the rule they made without ever talking to me (like your input would have changed anything), that was the same as what the NFL was doing – just to not have the conversation, to try to just stop me from doing what I’m doing instead of at least having a conversation, and trying to figure out a [solution] that makes sense to everyone.” – Megan Rapinoe interview with Yahoo Sports.
Obviously, “…makes sense to everyone.” – is code speak for makes sense to you.
Well, bless your heart. You may be the captain of your team, but you are a disgrace to your country. The National Anthem, and the flag it represents, are about something much larger than you. And I know you are very large and important in your own estimation. Your words prove you believe thus. The Stars and Stripes – our national symbol – and the National Anthem – were not tarnished yesterday by your actions. Only you were. They will continue to represent the greatest country in the world. They will continue to stand for liberty, freedom, the American dream and patriots who have provided their full measure of devotion to protect them. You, on the other hand, will only be seen as a childish narcissist who believes the world revolves around only themselves. Congratulations, you are officially in a league of your own.
Grey Beard Biker
If this disgusts you, as much as it does old Grey Beard Biker, contact US Soccer at (312) 808-1300 or by email: email@example.com
To watch the National Anthem, with Ms. Rapinoe’s protest, click on the picture below to go to FoxSports on YouTube.
Your lovable Grey Beard Biker loves military history. You know this, because you are in the know. To the Grey Beard it doesn’t matter if a soldier was given any specific award, they are still a hero because they signed their name in blood on a contract with the United States government – a contract which is due-and-payable, if necessary, with their life. But those brave souls who have been awarded the Medal of Honor have a very special place in my heart. You see, less than 3,500 soldiers have been given this award since its inception during the Civil War. Until World War II, the vast majority of MoH recipients received their award while still alive. Since WW II, greater than 60% received the medal posthumously.
Awarded by the President of the United States, in the name of Congress, to a member of the armed forces who “distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:”
while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
while serving with friendly forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
Grey Beard Biker’s Medal of Honor Profile:
Gunnery Sergeant, John Basilone, United States Marine Corps
John Basilone Hometown: Buffalo, New York Date of Birth: November 4, 1916 Died: February 19, 1945, Iwo Jima, Japan Age at Death: 28 Final Resting Place: Arlington National Cemetery
John Basilone was the sixth of ten children born to Salvator and Colle Basilone (nee Sannita). Although he was born in Buffalo, Basilone moved to Raritan, New Jersey as a toddler. Before joining the armed forces, Basilone worked as a golf caddy at a local country club.
In 1934 Basilone entered the United States Army, completing his enlistment in the Philippines after a three year stint. He may have been best known at that time as a champion caliber boxer. Leaving the military, he returned to the U.S. and a short career as a truck driver in Maryland.
In 1940, Basilone enlisted in the Marine Corps at Baltimore, Maryland. After training at Marine Corps Base Quantico, he would be assigned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba until the United States declared war on Japan, after the sneak attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Assigned to Dog “D” Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Sergeant Basilone’s first duty assignment would be to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, South Pacific. It would be here that young Basilone would display undaunted courage, through his actions, at the Battle of Henderson Field, earning him the Medal of Honor.
Official Medal of Honor Citation:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action against enemy Japanese forces, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Lunga Area, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, on 24 and 25 October 1942. While the enemy was hammering at the Marines’ defensive positions, Sgt. Basilone, in charge of 2 sections of heavy machineguns, fought valiantly to check the savage and determined assault. In a fierce frontal attack with the Japanese blasting his guns with grenades and mortar fire, one of Sgt. Basilone’s sections, with its guncrews, was put out of action, leaving only two men able to carry on. Moving an extra gun into position, he placed it in action, then, under continual fire, repaired another and personally manned it, gallantly holding his line until replacements arrived. A little later, with ammunition critically low and supply lines cut off, Sgt. Basilone, at great risk of his life and in the face of continued enemy attack, battled his way through hostile lines with urgently needed shells for his gunners, thereby contributing in large measure to the virtual annihilation of a Japanese regiment. His great personal valor and courageous initiative were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
1943 would mark a homecoming for Basilone. He would be brought home to tour the United States on a War Bonds Tour – essentially urging civilians to purchase war bonds to fund the ongoing hostilities around the world. Feeling uncomfortable in the limelight, he would request to return to action, twice, before being approved to return to the Pacific Theater.
On 19 February 1945, assigned to “C” Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, Basilone would storm the beaches of Iwo Jima, Japan, fighting his way inland to Airfield Number 1. Assisting a Marine tank, which was stuck in an enemy minefield, Basilone was killed by enemy mortar shrapnel. His gallant actions greatly assisted the Marines in expanding their beachhead at Iwo Jimo on that D-Day. His actions at Iwo Jimo would lead him to receive the Navy Cross, the Marine Corps’ second highest decoration for valor, posthumously.
Gunnery Sergeant, John Basilone, thank you for your courage, intrepidity and valor in the Pacific Theater during World War II. You remain, to this day, an inspiration to so many.
Semper Fi, Marine! Grey Beard Biker
Note: John Basilone was portrayed in the HBO’s miniseries, The Pacific, by Jon Seda. While not as inspiring as Band of Brothers, this program is still highly recommend by The Grey Beard Biker.
Over the years, your lovable Grey Beard Biker has always stopped for good food. He knows great pubs, steakhouses, oyster shacks, Irish pubs, Cajun/Creole joints and little seafood shacks on the beach all over the United States. When he posts a review of an eating establishment, you know it’s Grey Beard Approved and biker friendly.
Having grown up in Illinois, it was always a quick jaunt to the Wisconsin state line, where a young wannabe biker could have an ice cold beer when said greenhorn was too young to grow a mustache. Doing so started the tradition for your lovable author of making a pilgrimage to the Badger State on a fairly regular basis. Some of the reasons Grey Beard would use as excuses to go to Wisconsin included: looking for black bears, fishing, snipe hunting, in need of a road trip, attending the Harley-Davidson Anniversary parties, being hungry, needing to replenish his New GlarusSpotted Cow beer or visiting other delinquents. LOL!
Needless to say, no trip to southeast Wisconsin would be considered complete without a stop at Sobelmans’ Pub N Grill for a burger – or if really hungover – a world famous Sobelmans’ Bloody Mary! And on those late mornings with a hangover, you must have one of their most famous burgers, “The Hangover!” That burger with the aforementioned Bloody Mary will get any biker road-ready in a hurry.
Periodically, your biker buddy travels to this area for work – as was the case this week. On the way to the airport, the GBB was able to stop by Sobelmans’ for a burger, fries and a beer. As always, the service was fantastic, and the food was even better. Today’s burger of choice was The BOMB,” and it was everything a hangry biker could want: a big burger, cooked just right, bacon, fried onions and bleu cheese dressing. The fries were amazing as were the pickle slices. To wash it down, this old biker suggests pairing The BOMB with a Spotted Cow! While finishing the first Spotted Cow, Diego, GBB’s waiter, brought over a second one – for FREE! He claimed it was because they had poured an extra one, but Grey Beard thinks he was just going out of his way to please him.
If you are planning a trip to Milwaukee, perhaps to visit the Harley-Davidson Museum, make sure to get your biker fill of great beer and burgers at Sobelmans’ Pub N Grill. There are a couple locations around town, but the original is always the best. It is just south of the Marquette University campus on St. Paul St. If you are on your scoot, be wary of their parking lot. It is quite steep, with a single file line of parking spots on each side. Two years ago, on our brand spanking new CVO Limited, we pulled into the lot and kept going up, up, up. We got to the top and there was no parking available – even for a bike. Your lovable Grey Beard Biker had to ask Miss Tracy to get off, and turtle walk the bike sideways, to get turned around. It was a very good thing this biker dude did not lean to the left while being a turtle walker, because the hill is so steep his big foot would have never reached the ground. That would have been quite embarrassing, to say the least. It is best to park in the street and walk over.
This is the age of the P.C. police. And the P.C. police have nothing to do with that portion of first responders who put their lives on the line every day when they go to work – those who respond to an active shooter situation, a domestic disturbance or a strong-armed robbery. The P.C. police are those who police our society looking for potentially hateful symbols, speech or groups of people they disagree with. Upon finding something they despise, they go after it with every form of vitriol they can summon to prove how hateful, those they hate, are. Kind of ironic isn’t it? The Grey Beard Biker thinks so.
Debate has had a place in our country’s history since the First Continental Congress met to promote the interest of the British colonies in America. Debate is good. Debate, when used persuasively can change opinion and build respect amongst those who oppose each other. But what the P.C. police are doing is shutting down the constitutional rights of groups they disagree with. They succeed in yelling louder than those they disagree with. In your ever-lovable Grey Beard Biker’s opinion, they are trampling on the U.S. Constitution – and they know it. They simply don’t care.
A few years ago, I was outraged about the removal of Confederate monuments in places like New Orleans, Louisiana, Baltimore, Maryland and Charlottesville, Virginia. As recently as April 2019, Maryland legislators had voted to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from Antietam National Battlefield. Since Antietam is a Federally owned property, Maryland has an uphill battle. My rage a couple of years ago had nothing to do with me agreeing with the beliefs of the men being memorialized by these statues. In fact, I disagree vehemently with nearly everything the Confederate States of America stood for. My rage had everything to do with the P.C. police trying to sanitize the history of our country. Whitewashing our past does not change it – it only dumbs down a society which is already clueless to our history, our form of government (like those who would call the United States a Democracy – it is not) and remove key figures of our Founding generation because they did not agree with beliefs these men held 250 years ago.
This morning, I came across a post on Facebook from a longtime American Civil War historian friend of mine. Unlike me, he keeps his politics to himself (probably something Old Grey Beard could learn from). Harry originally posted the article “Historical Symbols, The Nature of Truth and the Sides of History” on his blog, Bull Runnings, four years ago. He shared it on Facebook today, because there is a movement to cease observing Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. So much Harry originally wrote was prescient then – and spot on today. Obviously the P.C. police want to marginalize Jefferson because he owned slaves.
The point Harry makes in his blog article is that we cannot judge people for their actions in the time they lived in. That was their time, not ours. White supremacists are a blight on our country today. But if they were judged by a southerner in 1872, what they stood for would be viewed differently than today. Harry also makes a great observation that if we were to judge leaders of the past through the corrective lens of what we see today, we would be forced to banish Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the dustbin of history for his treatment of Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Naturally, that would lead to the removal of his statues. Interesting to think about, but unlikely to happen since FDR was a Democrat and successfully managed the entry of the United States into World War II – and nearly managed complete victory over all the Axis Powers (this would be finished by his Vice President, Harry S. Truman after Roosevelt’s death).
Grey Beard has lots of friends – and I mean friends – that hold far different views. Some are hesitant to condemn ANTIFA, a group that is fascist in actions and ANTI-FAscist in name. This single group has a goal of shutting down any free speech they do not agree with – even resorting to violence. They will block traffic on the streets of our cities, throw things at passing motorists and assault groups they do not agree with all in the guise that the message their opposition represents is hurtful to them. This is not American. It is not even adult like. It is childish behavior from childish adults. The fact that we will accept this behavior today, when these same groups are trying to erase our past, demonstrates how myopic society is today. If you do not agree with them, you are truly the enemy.
In the Grey Beard Biker’s opinion, Harry gets it right in his article when he says, “What do we do with the wrong side? Erase it? Write over it? Maybe it’s just too hard to interpret it. But isn’t that the historian’s job?” Let’s spend more time trying to understand our history, even the institution of slavery, instead of trying to hide it. Are we going to remove Thomas Jefferson next? Perhaps get rid of the Jefferson Monument? There is even talk today about whether we marginalize George Washington, the father of the United States, in our children’s history books. Who is next? Abraham Lincoln? FDR? What about Ulysses S. Grant? The Civil War may have turned out differently if he had not become commanding general of all Union Forces during the Civil War. His wife owned slaves. Should he be banished to the dustbin of history too?
We should take a lesson from British statesman, Edmund Burke: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” While we don’t have to agree with the beliefs of our important historical figures, we need to understand how the work they did make the United States the shining castle on the hill it is today.
Grey Beard Biker
Here is a link to Harry’s original article on Bull Runnings:
Your lovable old Grey Beard Biker has always been happy to just throw his leg over his scoot and ride in whatever direction the bike points. No map, no plan, no place specific to be and the only noise is the sound of exhaust, wind and of course – rock and roll music! This is the way so many of us started riding. It certainly still holds true today as it did decades ago.
But on many weekend rides, vacations and trips to bike rallies, Tracy and I will ride with a group of friends. Most of the time these groups are small, with four of five couples, but sometimes we might have 20+ bikes riding in staggered formation through the twisting turns of Middle Tennessee. These rides have always been special to us.
Today, we returned from another ride to the Gatlinburg area. We had not planned on making this trip, but a week ago we decided to ride with the eleven bikes headed east, mainly because we wanted to hang out with some awesome friends who would be going. Even heavy rain being forecast for the weekend did not dissuade us from going. And rain, it did. Our nearly 300 mile ride to Gatlinburg on Friday was basically a wash out. We pointed our bikes straight east on Interstate 40 and we all just pushed hard. This was group riding at its toughest. On a dry sunny day, it is not difficult to stay in formation. When sheets of rain are hammering you incessantly for 50 miles at a time it is much more difficult to maintain formation. The dynamics of a ride like this, where you are relying on the bikes around you to have your back, is always interesting. You feel very connected to the other riders. Fortunately, our group was all experienced and we made it to Gatlinburg safely, albeit soaking wet.
Yesterday, the Grey Beard Biker led a ride with only four other bikes. It ended up being the perfect group ride. Great friends just riding through remote sections of the mountains. None of us were in a hurry. We enjoyed each other’s company, shared laughs, hugs, adult beverages, stories from the road and lunch. While only riding around 100 miles during the day, it was amazing to enjoy brotherhood/sisterhood with some awesome people.
Today, the group split up with us riding back with only three other bikes. And it rained, rained and rained some more. Riding in terrible weather like today, makes you glad to be safely home with the memories of a successful trip with great people. These memories, like the other memories we accumulate on the seat of our Harley-Davidson, are priceless and will be forever cherished.
Below, is a video from our group ride yesterday on Grey Beard’s not-so-secret road.
As I am sure you have figured out by now, your lovable old Grey Beard Biker loves military history – especially U.S. Military History. Yesterday was a day of remembrance for me, remembering all of our brave soldiers who participated in D-Day Normandy. In case you missed my article yesterday, you can find it HERE.
Last night, I watched President Donald J. Trump’s D-Day speech, delivered above Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France. Some of presidents have been fantastic speakers: Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan – and even Barack Obama. I have never considered Trump an eloquent speaker. He often seems stiff to me. He absolutely nailed it yesterday. If you have not watched his speech, it is well worth the 30 minute time commitment to do so.
Trump’s speech received praise from some unexpected sources:
“This is perhaps the most on-message moment of Donald Trump’s presidency today.” – Jim Acosta, CNN White House Correspondent
“I’m also glad the president chose to have the discipline to stick to script and deliver what, again, I believe is the strongest speech of his presidency.” – Joe Scarborough, MSNBC morning host
If you have time this weekend, take some time and listen to Trump’s Normandy speech. I would be interested to hear what you think of it.
As reported on Bearing Arms, Obama was caught mischaracterizing Federal regulations regarding the buying of firearms in the United States. Coming from President Barack Obama, this does not surprise The Grey Beard Biker in any way. What does is the reaction it got from Politifact, which headlined its story with: Barack Obama wrong on limits of US gun laws, machine gun sales…
Here are some of Obama’s outrageous comments made at a technology conference in Brazil on May 9:
“Anybody can buy a gun at any time.”
This is patently false. There are lots of people who cannot purchase a firearm – legally:
Anyone convicted of a felony
Anyone involuntarily committed to a mental institution
Anyone who has renounced their citizenship
Anyone subject to a court order against harassing or threatening an intimate partner
Anyone dishonorably discharged from the military
Anyone under 18 for a long gun or 21 for a handgun
“They can buy it over the internet.”
This is also untrue. Guns purchased from gun sellers on-line have to be sent to a FFL in the buyer’s state. Plain and simple.
“They can buy machine guns.”
This may well be the most outlandish claim Obama made. Machine guns are automatic weapons – not semi-automatic. While specially licensed individuals can buy machine guns, ownership by the general public has been illegal since the passage of the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act in 1986.
The Grey Beard Biker also found FactCheck.org rated Obama’s remarks as “untrue.”
Most of the fact-checker websites are very supportive of Obama. It is refreshing to see that they gave him Pinocchios for his comments in Brazil.
Today June 6, marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy. By the early summer of 1944, the U.S. had been embroiled in World War II for over two years. As a country, we had been against entry into the war until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Everything changed on that day, with congress approving a war declaration and F.D.R. declaring war on Japan, shortly after Pearl Harbor. That would lead to Hitler declaring war on the United States. It was truly a World War and the United States was in it.
Prelude to War in Europe
Britain had long wanted the U.S. to join the fight in Europe against the Axis Powers – Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Vichy French troops. Until Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt could not be swayed. The U.S. had firmly entrenched itself as committed to be a neutral non-interventionist in Europe. After much prodding from Winston Churchill, Roosevelt signed the Lend Lease Act, in March 1941, which pledged support in the form of war ships and military equipment to the primary European Allies – Britain and Russia. Pearl Harbor would be the impetus which would lead to our joining the fight in the Pacific – with the Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Midway and Battle of Guadalcanal in early 1942 and the invasion of Vichy held northwest Africa (Operation Torch) in November 1942. The ultimate goal of Torch was to push west to Tunisia, trapping the Axis troops (German and Italian) on the peninsula at Tunis and forcing the surrender of the Afrika Korps, under the command Field Marshall Erwin Rommel. The Allied forces battling Afrika Korps would come from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Free France.
Roosevelt, all along, believed that the primary objective for the European theater should be Berlin, Germany – the headquarters of the Third Reich. He disagreed with Churchill, and the other leaders of the Allies, in an approach to Europe through Africa and southern France. F.D.R. believed that the quickest path to victory would be a straight line – and the straightest line led through northern France to Berlin. While true, the planning and build up to a cross-channel invasion would take years – years that homeland Britain, and Russia, did not have. Britain was being bombed daily from western Europe and Russia was being pummeled by Germany on the Eastern Front. After much prodding from Churchill, and Stalin, about the merits of striking the “soft underbelly” of the Axis in North Africa and Southern France, Roosevelt agreed to the invasions. This would allow the Allies to divert – or at least occupy – German forces on the two fronts in Europe, while the build up for the cross-channel invasion was completed.
None of the Allied leaders believed that the path to southern Europe, and the “soft underbelly” of the Axis, would take so long and cost so much. Ultimately that path would lead through the major battles of Africa, Sicily, southern Italy and southern France. The cost in blood would be staggering with the Allies suffering over 63,000 killed in action and nearly 340,000 missing or wounded. Battles would be named for locales which most Americans had never heard of: Oran, Kasserine Pass, Tunis, Salerno, Anzio, Monte Cassino, Ley Muy, Saint Tropez, Saint Raphael, Marseille and Toulon. The strategic goal of diverting Axis troops to the southern front was largely unsuccessful. Bombings continued unabated in Britain and Russian forces had their hands full on the Eastern Front. However, the invasions of North Africa, Sicily, southern Italy, Anzio and southern France benefitted the Allies significantly. These invasions all required huge flotillas, airborne infantry units penetrating behind enemy lines and immense beach landings of infantry, engineers and armored forces. Lessons learned during this time would prove essential for military planners preparing for the cross-channel invasion of Europe – code named: Operation Overlord.
Planning for Operation Overlord
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) was responsible for the planning and execution of Operation Overlord. Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, was in overall command with British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery being in command of the overall European Theater. Forces involved would come from: the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Czechkosolovakia, Luxembourg, Greece, Netherlands and Norway.
Inevitably, Hitler knew the Allies were planning an invasion from England. But he assumed it would be at Pas de Calais – the closest point of continental Europe across the English Channel – and the launch site for V-1 and V-2 rockets which continued to bombard London. With this in mind, Hitler ordered this region heavily fortified. He was unaware that Allied planners had chosen Normandy because of its geography – there were less rivers and canals in the area so a broad front of Allied soldiers could mass after the landing. Additionally, the proximity of Normandy to the port of Cherbourg, in the American sector, and Brittany, in the English sector, made Normandy more appealing. The Allied Expeditionary Forces would require massive amounts of supplies, armored vehicles, clothing, ammunition and fuel. Opening a broad beachhead at Normandy would satisfy their port requirements – to a degree – once the Americans opened the port at Cherbourg.
The Allied planners agreed that there would be three phases of the cross-channel invasion:
Allied bombing raids would target rail lines, German manufacturing, fuel supplies and airfields. Codenamed Operation Point Blank, these bombing raids were designed to prevent quick reinforcement of Axis lines from the south and ensure air superiority over Normandy
Airborne infantry would drop behind Axis lines several hours before the beach landings to tie up some of the German defenses and open up pathways to the interior for infantry landing on the beaches.
Seaborne landings would begin on June 5 (later postponed to June 6 due to low cloud ceiling preventing airborne transport planes from dropping their sticks accurately) with First Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, landing on the two western beaches (Utah and Omaha) and Second Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey, landing at the three eastern beaches (Gold, Juno and Sword). Bradley’s First Army would include the American V Corps and VII Corps. Dempsey’s Second Army would include British I Corps, XXX Corps and the First Canadian Army. Included with the First Canadian would be troops from Poland, Netherlands and Belgium.
The objective for Operation Overlord was for Bradley’s First Army to quickly cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and capture the port of Cherbourg. The U.S. Airborne troops, consisting of the 82nd Airborne Division, commanded by Major General Matthew Ridgeway, and the 101st Airborne Division, commanded by Brigadier General Maxwell Taylor, would be transported on 432 C-47 planes and were tasked with opening the beach causeways and blocking German reinforcements coming from the east towards Carentan. The British airborne force included Major General Richard Nelson Gale’s 6th Airborne Division which would drop near Caen. They were tasked with capturing two bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River, allowing ingress of troops once the Normandy beachhead was established.
D-Day at Normandy
Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower communicated by letter with all Allied forces on the afternoon of June 5:
“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”
At 22:30 on June 5, the C-47s containing the U.S. Airborne troops began taking off from airfields in Great Britain. These serials would continue departing over the next hour. Entering France from the west, the C-47s decreased their altitude from 1,500 feet to 500 feet. Despite precise planning, the transports quickly scattered due to a solid cloud bank, heavy German anti-aircraft (flak) fire and unmarked/improperly marked drop zones. The two airborne divisions would take the better part of two days to organize.
Preliminary naval bombardment of the Atlantic Wall defenses began at 05:45 and continued until 06:25. Five battleships, 20 cruisers and 65 destroyers would fire tons of heavy naval ordnance with minimal damage being done to the Atlantic Wall defenses.
Overnight, infantry began departing the shores of Great Britain for their voyage across the English Channel. Code named Operation Neptune, the beach landing armada would include nearly 7,000 vessels – 1,213 of which were naval warships, 4,126 landing ships/crafts and nearly 900 merchant ships.
The first troop landings began at 06:30 with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division landing around 1/2 mile south of their planned landing zone. Commanded on D-Day by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of President Teddy Roosevelt, the 4th Division would meet only minor resistance forming their beachhead. Suffering approximate 200 casualties, by the end of D-Day, they would push four clicks ashore by nightfall. Roosevelt would be the only general officer to land by sea on D-Day and would survive just over one month, dying on July 12 of a heart attack.
With the scattered nature of the U.S. Airborne drops – only 10% of the assault forces would actually land in their assigned drop zones – confusion ruled the early fighting. The 82nd Airborne Division would capture Sainte-Mere Eglise, but its failure to capture the crossing of River Merderet would result in a delay sealing off the Cotentin Peninsula. The 101st Airborne Division, The Screaming Eagles, would capture a crossing of the River Douve, near Caretan, somewhat protecting the southern flank.
Meanwhile, the more heavily defended landing at Omaha Beach was assigned to the U.S. 1st and 29th infantry divisions. Unknowingly, these troops were not facing a single German regiment, but the entire 352nd Nazi German Division. Casualties at Omaha Beach would be greater than all other landing zones combined as they faced concentrated artillery and machine gun fire from heavily fortified pillboxes along the heights overlooking the beach. By 08:30, landings would have to be delayed as beach obstructions were causing havoc along the entry points to the beach. Complicating matters were the scant five exit gullies from the beach – the only way to reach high ground. By noon, infantry, aided by naval gunfire, had started reaching the German defenses – which were beginning to run out of ammunition. The beachhead would remain quite tenuous over the coming days with D-Day objectives pushing out to D+3.
Second Army landings at Gold and Juno would be complicated by high seas and wind. Landings at Sword would be more successful with tanks and infantry clearing a significant beachhead and supporting the delayed landings at Gold and Juno.
Over the coming days, man made harbors would begin to be assembled to allow supply ships, infantry and tanks to continue the buildup at Normandy and supply food, medical supplies, ammunition and much needed fuel. The armada of military vehicles and tanks pushing into Normandy would eclipse 10,000 by D+1.
While the initial objectives of D-Day were only partially met, it would prove a singular success over the intervening years. The beachheads would continue to grow, with each passing day, allowing nearly 1.5 million Allied troops to enter France by July 25th and over 2 million by September 1st. But the cost would be extremely high on both sides. The butcher’s bill on D-Day alone, would climb to over 10,000 Allied troops – with 4,414 killed in action (KIA). Additionally 185 Sherman tanks would be lost, including most of their crews, landing at the beaches. Some of these tanks had been modified to disembark in deep water and push ashore via propellers. This proved folly, as most all of the “amphibious” tanks would never reach shore.
The Nazi German toll on D-Day is unknown, but estimated to be between 4,000 and 10,000. Many of these would be captured and sent to prisoner of war camps in the United Kingdom and the United States. Given the defenses along the Atlantic Wall, the lower casualties of Axis troops was expected.
The United States paid the highest price on D-Day. All told, recently updated casualty figures, from the US National D-Day Memorial Foundation, have confirmed 6,603 total U.S. casualties, with 1,914 KIA. The stiff resistance at Omaha Beach is where the majority of these casualties occurred.
The Grey Beard Biker’s respect for all veterans, current members of our armed forces and especially those airborne troops, infantry troops, army air force troops and sailors who took part on D-Day knows no bounds. While the veterans of WW II are called the Greatest Generation, Grey Beard views all who have signed their contract with the U.S. armed forces, in blood, to be greater than great. God Bless the United States, her allies and especially our troops in harm’s way!
The Dallas, Texas Chief of Police, Renee Hall, has officially won Grey Beard Biker’s Stupidest Bloviation of the Day Award for June 4, 2019. You just cannot make this stuff up!
“There are socioeconomic issues that are related to crime in individuals in this city,” Chief Hall said. She goes on to say, “In those instances, those individuals are forced to commit violent acts.”
Your ever so lovable Grey Beard Biker knows what words mean. When you say “forced,” what you mean is they had to do it. There was no free will. Perhaps this parochial whack-a-mole should have used, “…those individuals choose to commit violent acts.” Grey Beard Biker thinks it’s time for people to take responsibility for their actions. A violent criminal does not perform a heinous act because society forced them to do so. They are violent criminals because they are narcissistic and only care for themselves.
Congratulations, Chief Hall, you have won the inaugural Stupidest Bloviation of the Day award. You should be commended for your bloviation and are certainly a clodpoll.