The First Men In: U.S. Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day

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Harper Collins, Jun 13, 2006 - History - 349 pages
5 Reviews

In the hours before the D-Day landing, their brilliant success behind enemy lines changed the course of history.

In the tradition of Steven Ambrose's D-Day and Band of Brothers, The First Men In tells the remarkable story of the American paratroopers who took on one of the most important and dangerous missions of World War II. On the eve of D-Day, the 82nd Airborne Division parachuted into key positions along the Normandy coast, spearheading the assault on Fortress Europe. Using extensive firsthand interviews with the men of the 82nd, Ed Ruggero vividly brings them to life. This "first-rate story-teller" (Denver Post) weaves their improbable achievement into an unforgettable narrative.

Only one unit of the 82nd -- the 3,000 men of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment -- had previously been tested in battle. These heroes of the brutal 1943 invasion of Sicily -- whose story was brilliantly told in Ruggero's Combat Jump -- were given one of the toughest assignments, that of securing the critical crossroads town of Ste. Mère Eglise, the gateway to Utah Beach, through which half of the U.S. invasion force had to pass. Within hours of landing in Normandy, the 505th had accomplished its mission and seized Ste. Mère Eglise, the first town in Europe to be liberated. But as the sun rose on June 6, 1944, and as the assault waves struggled ashore on fire-swept beaches, the airborne commanders realized that most of the nearly 14,000 paratroopers dropped on the extreme right flank of the Allied invasion area had missed their targets.

The scattered troopers fought in small groups, cut off from one another by the dense Norman hedgerows and cleverly dug-in German defenders. Putting themselves between the vulnerable landing beaches and repeated enemy assaults, the lightly armed paratroopers fought for no-name crossroads and isolated fields on the first few miles of the long road to Berlin. Their training, courage, and leadership paid off; with their blood, they purchased the critical hours the Allies needed to get ashore. Often outnumbered and frequently outgunned, the men of the 82nd accomplished every mission, held every piece of ground they gained, and thus helped secure the success of the greatest amphibious invasion in history.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DrewsFlash - LibraryThing

The battle for St. Mere Eglise and the bridges of the adjoining towns were a high risk but overly important part of D-Day. Ed Ruggero takes the reader from the airborne/glider drops of the 82nd and ... Read full review

Review: The First Men In: US Paratroopers and the Fight to Save D-Day

User Review  - Art - Goodreads

After reading the author's book on the first landings in 1943 I was impressed. I have to say this book did not disappoint. A lot of the accounts covered in this book I had not heard before. It's nice after all the great coverage of the 101st to read a book that's centered on the 82nd Airborne. Read full review

Contents

PROLOGUE
1
THE GATHERING HOST
17
TRAIN THOROUGHLY
45
OPERATION NEPTUNE
67
COUNTDOWN
85
ALL THAT BRAVERY AND DEVOTION TO DUTY COULD DO
103
A FIRELIT SKY
117
OUR SONS
143
LA FIÈRE BRIDGE
183
UNDER FIRE 211 11 COUNTERATTACK
233
NO BETTER PLACE TO DIE
251
THE GAUNTLET
277
EPILOGUE
299
NOTES
313
WORKS CITED
331
Copyright

STE MÈRE EGLISE
171

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About the author (2006)

Ed Ruggero is the author of Combat Jump: The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943 and Duty First: A Year in the Life of West Point and the Making of American Leaders. He was an infantry officer in the United States Army for eleven years and is an experienced keynote speaker on leadership development. He lives in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.

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