Al Vise was born in Knoxville, Tennessee on April 29, 1919. He met his wife, Etta, in Ireland while serving in the U.S. Army. While serving in the Army during WWII, he went to Africa, Italy, England, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, and France. While Al was in England, he prepared to invade France. He landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day at 5:00pm. In Belgium, Al liberated those in concentration camps. Al recalled when General Patton delivered his “Miracle Prayer” in Germany and it was then that Al felt that “God was on his side.” After the war, Al moved to Bountiful, Utah. Later, he met up with his wife in New York and they had four children.
On November 14, 2017, I had the honor of interviewing Al Vise. In his own words, these are his recollections of D-Day: (FYI – “During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning. Prior to D-Day, the Allies conducted a large-scale deception campaign designed to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion target. By late August 1944, all of northern France had been liberated, and by the following spring the Allies had defeated the Germans. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.” (History Channel, www.history.com)
“Thank you for inviting me here to share a couple of my memories of June 6, 1944, D-Day. At that time, I was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army, 7th Field Artillery, First Division, known as the BIG RED ONE. Our earlier fighting had included chasing Rommel (Erwin Rommel (15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) was a German general and military theorist. Popularly known as the Desert Fox, he served as field marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II, Wikipedia) across Northern Africa, and a 37-day campaign in Sicily.”
“We prepared for invasion at Lyme Regis, England. We boarded our ships and transferred to the LST’s at sea, heading to Omaha Beach. We landed about five in the afternoon.”
“The beach was filled with live fire from missiles fired from miles away. I jumped off the LST with my rifle and pack into chest-high water. I think we stayed wet for several days from the ocean water and the rain.”
“We secured a beach head to prepare for the landing of troops, tanks, and trucks following us. We then pushed past the beach and through the hedge rows toward the town of St. Lo.”
“St. Lo became our base to prepare for the big Break Out towards Berlin. We set up the town to handle the huge number of tanks, trucks and tons of material that would be needed for us in the coming weeks.”
“In the Big Break Out from Normandy to Berlin, we liberated Liege, Bastogne and many smaller towns. We crossed the fortified Siegfried Line twice and won the Battle of the Bulge. This broke the back of the Nazis.”
“My strongest memories of that day were these:
Number 1: We must get off the beach or we will be killed.
Number 2: I must get my troops to St. Lo.
Number 3: I must protect my troops, and those to follow.
Number 4: The hedge rows were beautiful but deadly. They were perfect hiding places for the Nazis.
Number 5: We threw grenades inside of the bunkers to kill the Nazi soldiers firing the cannons”
“Our motto always played in my head:
First in War
First in Peace
No mission to difficult
No sacrifice to great
Nothing this side of Hell
Shall stop the First Division
THE BIG RED ONE”
We honor you, Al Vise.