Following a company wide meeting in London CEO David Spencer and Houston Business Development Director Brad Haygood headed to Normandy for the 70th Anniversary of the Normandy D-Day landings.
Compared to the original crossing in 1944 the channel tunnel was very easy indeed followed by a four hour drive to Grandcamp-Maisy situated on the coast between Omaha and Utah beaches.
The whole area is a very picturesque part of the world that still echoes of its violent past. It was very moving to visit the actual sites of some of the toughest encounters of the war. Point Du Hoc being among the toughest. It is hard to believe that the US Rangers got up the shear cliff face in the face of intense resistance from above to destroy the big German Guns that had been hidden away from their anticipated location at the top of the cliffs.
Incredibly we bumped into a coach load of Texas A&M Alumni. The Aggies were on a guided tour. Accompanying them was “Mac” Evans a veteran of Omaha Beach. We had a very interesting conversation with him. He survived the landing by clambering over the side of his landing craft and cutting all his gear off and swimming to the beach. It put his ordeal into perspective when he said that 17 of his comrades were lost during the assault. He went on to run a bar in Paris for GIs at the end of the war and now lives in Louisiana!
If you like military hardware it was the place to be. Enthusiasts from all over Europe were in attendance in every make of 1994 military vehicle imaginable from Deuce and a Halfs, Shermans, Schwim Wagons and Kettenkrads to DUKWs and various gun platforms and wreckers. All in excellent condition and in their original Normandy specification.
The lasting memory of the trip though is of the bravery of those young soldiers that struggled up the beaches or parachuted behind the lines in darkness and of the losses they sustained in reaching all of their objectives. Admiration is too small a word...