As you walk through the automatic doors from the US Naval Gallery, you will enter an audio enhanced diorama depicting the infamous June 6, 1944 D-Day landing in Normandy France. This diorama reflects the actual happenings that took place on Utah Beach on that unforgettable day. The audio portion of this diorama was captured by the graciousness, Leonard Schroeder, a captain at the time and the first man to set foot on Utah Beach. Col. Schroeder generously donated several pieces of his personal gear which are on display along with many other authentic pieces. To enhance this display, there is a replica of a portion of the LST named Frank Spatuzzi, a heroic USCG Lt. JG. This display also has a full size operational M4 Sherman tank being offloaded on the ramp. The tanks commander was Col. Paul Bates, who commanded the 741st all-black tank battalion – the first full Afro-American units in the US Army. Col. Bates was best known not only for his heroic and special action in supporting this all-black unit, but also promoting his belief that the US Army should not be segregated. His strong belief was reflected in his refusal to sign the orders to court-martial the famous baseball player, Jackie Robinson. Jackie was later court-martialed through the efforts of others and was subsequently acquitted of all charges.
A Brief Look at the WWII D-Day Invasion – Utah Beach
As the Allied forces planned for the Normandy Invasion, Utah Beach (a code name) was added at the end as additional landing craft became available. Five miles long and located furthest west of the five planned landing beaches, little resistance was met by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division as they began their assault. This was due in part to the currents pushing the landing crafts further to the southeast. Originally planned to land at Tare Green and Uncle Red sectors, the infantry came ashore at Victor sector, a very lightly defended area. The landing on Omaha Beach, however, met great opposition and fierce fighting erupted.
By days end, however, the objectives of the US Army troops on Utah Beach– despite their incorrect landing – had been met. Being off course and meeting light resistance, allowed them to push inland much faster than originally anticipated. In all, only 197 men – of the estimated 23,000 – were killed in action in the Utah Beach landing.