June 6, 1944 – My grandfather was part of the third wave going ashore at
with the 30th Infantry Division 117th Regiment. They were
sent in to replace units of the 29th Infantry which had become lost
during the initial attack. How they became lost is not quite clear. By D-Day
plus four the remaining balance of the Division arrived on the beaches of Omaha Beach Normandy. They were
immediately thrust into heavy action against the Germans. The Nickname for the
30th was Old Hickory after Andrew Jackson. They were tough and
The German High Command named the 30th Infantry “
SS Troops” because of their vigor and the terrible pressure they bore on
Hitler’s elite 1st SS Division. The 30th tore through the
elite 1st SS Division at St. LO and again at Mortain allowing
General Patton’s armored forces to race across France.
Throughout the war there was struggles for the 30th, including accidentally getting bombed by the Air Corps and suffering a high casualty rate. They kept up the fight however and by September-October 1944 they had made their way to the Siegfried Line. The Siegfried line was a literal wall of German pillboxes, entrenchments, road blocks and various other obstacles designed to keep Allied forces out of
The 30th continued their push through Europe and again faced the 1st SS Division in the “
Battle of the Bulge” during the
Ardennes-Alsace Offensive near Malmedy Belgium in the winter of 1944-45.
The 30th decimated the 1st SS Division and they never
returned to the war. January 13, 1945
they launched a counter offensive and drove 2 miles south of St. Vith and left
the battle by January 26th. I can only imagine the hell that must
have been in one of Europe’s most brutal
By February of 1945 the 30th crossed the
as part of the Roer offensive. After a short rest and rehabilitation they were
returned to action by March and made their crossing of the Roer River .
They continued their push, taking Hamelin, Braunschweig and Rhine River Magdeburg by April 17, 1945. They met up with
the Russians near Gruenwald on the . There they began
their occupation and were rotated out of Elbe
by August of 1945.
The 30th was designated as the number one Infantry Division in the European Theater by General Eisenhower’s Chief Historian, Col. S.L.A. Marshall and the 117th Regiment was awarded 13 Meritorious Unit Citations, as well as numerous other citations for the whole Division.
The trouble with a lot of the information on this distinguished unit is that in July of 1973 there was a fire and the 30th Division combat records were destroyed. However the Silver Star records are available and my Grandfather’s information is available.
Heffernan, Daniel J. Rank: S/Sgt. Regiment: 117 - However, it appears the records are somewhat incomplete and I will have to contact the editor of the website with more information.
Whenever D-Day comes around I get very nostalgic about the WWII years. Not for the sensationalized
Hollywood versions of the War, but for the actual men
that fought so bravely for a just and right cause. They were truly heroes and I
hope we never forget what price they paid. A price paid not only in death but
in the long term affects a war like that can have on men that returned home.
Back then there was no treatment for Combat Fatigue, you were just Shell Shocked and told to suck it up and deal with it; which a lot of men did, with troubling consequences for their growing families. It doesn’t diminish their accomplishments however and I always feel a deep sense of pride whenever I think about what men like my Grandfather did. Both my Grandfather’s actually, since they both served in the same division without ever knowing each other.
On this D-Day 2013 I ask that we remember those men who bore the mantle of freedom so heavily on their backs.