"This means the boat won’t butt against the waves like a goat, but move over them like a ripple." Vikings.
Because it is the anniversary of D-Day, let me tell you a teensy bit about three of my favorite people to participate in Operation Overlord.
1) Father (Major General) Francis L. Sampson:
A paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, he kinda sorta almost died in the initial jump when he landed in a deep stream and was dragged underwater for a bit before he could cut his pack and parachute away. He then was like, “nah brahs, I’m good” and went to administer to some wounded soldiers in a farmhouse.
That farmhouse was later taken by the Germans (he had stayed on when others pulled out because of the damn Nazis), and he was taken outside to be executed when a German soldier decided to find out who the hell he was, and told his homies to chill.
So he aided the wounded and dying, even after the house was shelled that night. He cared for everyone—Allies and Germans both at the farmhouse and then the division hospital when the Allies took the area.
He was also the guy who was behind the story of “Saving Private Ryan.” Now, the movie is hella exaggerated, but he found out that Fritz Nyland, an American soldier, had lost several brothers (two KIA and one MIA if I recall correctly, and the MIA was later found alive), and he forcefully made arrangements for Nyland to be sent home.
Then there was this thing where he became a POW in December of ‘44, after the Germans shot the shit out of some American troops and left them to die. He went to help them, and the Germans, being legitimate dicks, took him prisoner, and sent him and about fifteen hundred others to Stalag II-A, a camp in northern Germany. He aided and tended to everyone as the only Catholic chaplain in the camp until they were liberated by Super Stalin’s troops in ‘45.
2) Lieutenant Colonel Jack Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill (“Mad Jack” for short)
This motherfucker stormed Sword Beach with a goddamn sword and his grandfather’s hunting rifle. ON D-DAY. He was almost certifiably insane and he loved every minute of it.
He had his personal piper (Bill Millin, who’s the next guy on my list) playing while the troops leapt off the boats and into battle.
Honestly, I cannot tell you just how crazy and awesome this man was without plagiarizing the shit out of like, twenty million articles on him, so let me just link a few. It’s totally worth the read, trust me. Anyone who screams “COMMANDO!” as they charge the enemy—day or night, just walk out of two concentration camps like no one’s business, and single-handedly capture forty-some German prisoners with only his sword is definitely a character you want to read about.
3) “D-Day Bagpiper” Bill Millin
To start out with, the only reason Millin wasn’t taken out by a German sniper on that goddamn beach was because they thought he had gone batshit crazy. So that’s a thing.
But no, seriously. He went all around Sword Beach while the battle raged, playing his bagpipes like it wasn’t even a thing. Hell, he took requests!
As the personal piper of Mad Jack Churchill, you’d think he might have a screw loose, but apparently, he was as insane as his boss. Bless him.
Jack Churchill is one of my favourite people ever. Crazy bastard.