| Pft. Monico
Tare Green Sector, Utah Beach, Normandy, France
531st Engineer Shore Regiment, 3rd Army
Now we would see water and sky and just wait,
wait, BS and we played cards till I just didnt feel like it
anymore so I walked away and laid down to rest and think.
As I lay there it came to me: I wonder out of us who
will be killed or wounded? Will it be Sgt. Collins or
Tercutto (who was wounded at Salerno), my pal Macie, maybe Tarbini
(the company joker) then I would feel my throat lump and my body
chill. No! Maybe it will be me, me killed or wounded.
How would my family take it? My Mother with her bad heart
could be fatal. Then I would force myself to get up and go
back to the card game to relax but I could see other fellows doing
the same like Cole who almost lost his leg at the invasion
of Sicily (was eventually killed in France). As he played
you could see his hands shake as he dealt the cards and laughed.
Finally I fell asleep when suddenly my pal Macie
shook me awake. He said, Get up Amador and start getting
ready. Were going over the side in about an hour.
I looked at my watch and it was 5AM, June 6th. I thought to
myself: Its almost time. I hurried, put
my pack together, my towel, soap, cigarettes, candy, socks (I put
the cigarettes and a pair of socks in my helmet in case everything
else got wet). I tried to think if I had done everything right
for what might come or happen. I took a last look at my family
pictures and then I wrapped my wallet in cellophane from the K-rations
so it wouldnt get wet. Now everything was ready on the
side of my pack. I laid my ammo and TNT for our missions.
I took a last look at my rifle to see if it was oiled and working
O.K. then I waited until we were told to come up on deck.
I put my straps over my shoulders and then strapped the TNT over
my neck and put my ammo bandoleros over my shoulders. Now
I picked up my rifle and followed the boys up the ladder.
Up on deck there was sort of a heavy mist but
we could see France miles away. There was the coast and to
one side of us was the Nevada blasting away with its
16 inch guns and in the early dawn it seemed to light up the sky
every time it let a salvo go. The shock would make waves throw
our little LCI around like a cork. When went past it as we
headed for the beach. As we neared the beach it seemed quiet
but to the rear miles we would see flashes as a result of the big
boats guns. Then in the mist about 2 miles from the
beach the LCI stopped. This was it! The Navy boys lowered
rubber boats over the side then held them with ropes, then with
a sort of mixed feeling, in groups of six, we went into the rubber
boats. (NOTE: 531st landed at Tare Green Sector) No one was
saying much and just headed for the water and the distant roar of
the big boats guns nothing was heard. As we started for shore
we suddenly hear the roar of planes overhead and everyone said I
wonder whose they are.
Soon we heard them going towards land and in the
distance we could see ack-ack going up at them and we
knew they were ours. Now in the mist the beach was a few yards
away and we could now see our mission. The rails sticking
out of the water had mines on top but the beach itself looked quiet.
Quickly we jumped into the water which came near our shoulders.
Everyone moved fast before we were discovered as it would mean a
certain end for all of us. We laced our charges around the
rails in a manner for best effect of destroying them.
To clear the water for the boat of the following
waves which at this minute were on their way in. As soon as
all the charges were set we waded to shore to dig in on the beach
and wait for the first wave in order to set off the charges moments
before they got them, then move forward with them. As we settled
in our holds the Sarge said Get down in 30 seconds
Im going to set off the charges and our Navy is going to turn
their guns on the beach. We waited until suddenly the blast
from our charges went off and almost a second later the first shell
went off near a pillbox on top of the sand dunes about 1000 feet
in front of us and it was followed by more and more. We looked
back and could see our mission went off swell as we could see rails
flying hundreds of feet as a result of the blast. Nothing
was happening in the distance. Over the waves we could see
the first wave of troops coming and the pillboxes on the beach in
front of us opened up on them. The ground trembled as our
Navy kept throwing in their heavy shells at the beach and we were
praying the Jerrys didnt shell us or that our
own Navy didnt drop any of their shells short. The sky
suddenly filled with flashes of shells and all over the beach the
smell of powder.
We could see the first boats getting on shore
behind us and the first troops coming towards us. Now the
ground shook something awful and the Jerrys began throwing
shells around us. I felt last as if any second a shell would
land in our hold and I heard yells of fear as the guys who were
being hit by the deadly 88mm shrapnel. I was frozen with fear.
Now as I looked over the edge of my hold, I could see more and more
troops all over the beach and the water full of men wading in from
the hundreds of boats coming in wave after wave, crawling and some
digging as soon as they got on soil, but one made a move to advance.
The beach was a mass of men all in one small spot, to stay
here was death for some, one every time a shell landed. It
was a sure thing every time a shell landed I could hear screams
and yells of agony. The fact was too many men in one spot.
Soon I looked up and there was the stern face of a Colonel hollering
at the men and pleading, almost begging saying Boys if we
must die let go in land and die with a fighting chance. Here
on this crowded beach we havent a change. Come on!
Men forward and as he stood there in the sand, the men realized
the cold fact they needed to move forward or be wiped out for sure
as we there was not protection from the deadly shell fire on Germans
were throwing at us. Now a few men started to creep up forward
and as soon as we could, we started coming out of our holds.
A mortar crew which had just come in off a boat
set up their mortars just a few yards from the waters edge and started
to fire at the machine guns in the sand dunes in front of us.
As we moved forward a mortar shell landed on a machine gun nest
in front. Now we were just below a pillbox firing a 40mm at
the fellows coming off the boats. As we lay in the sand below
it a 4th Div. came up with a bazooka and fired two shells, the first
landed over the opening and the second went in the opening followed
by an explosion and then all remained quiet. Men were scattered
all over the beach and along the beach the forts began to go out
of action. Sgt. Tercatto waved to me and I saw my pal Macie
beside him. I ran and jumped beside them and told Macie our
Lt. Fortrell was dead and was lying by the sea wall below a fort.
As we spoke, Sgt. Chapman was running towards
us when a shell exploded and seconds later he was lying in the sand
kicking, but we saw it was bad as it seemed, almost half his neck
was gashed open by shrapnel. Sgt. Tercatto spoke again telling
us the machine gun guarding a forts flank was knocked out. We could
sneak up to see if we could put the fort out of action. We
were able to crawl on top of the fort to an air-vent which led into
the fort. As we got there suddenly I felt I was no longer
scared but now excited. Sgt. Tercatto said Amador! When
I break the air-vent get along side and drop a couple grenades down.
Now I was shaking with excitement and I crawled and dropped the
first grenade and dropped another and another. All I could
hear was muffled noise inside the fort and the 40mm that had been
firing was stopped.
We had done a good job and as we started to crawl
off, I saw a kid from the 4th Div. crawl to the entrance of the
fort. He had a satchel charge which he pushed to the steel
door and as he pulled the pins from the end of the pole we ducked
down and heard a loud blast from under us. Then a fellow that
was alongside of us jumped down next to the entrance. We trained
our M1s on the entrance and we soon heard a cry from inside
saying Comrade, Comrade. We shouted Komen
Heir and he came out with one arm in the air and the other
arm hanging limp at his side. We told him that if there were
any other Comrades to come out. At that, two more
came out scared, even shaking. Their entire bodies trembled
as they came out.
Macie and I pushed one of them back into the fort.
As we entered I saw the awful damage I had caused with my grenades.
There in a small hall leading to the gun room were nine soldiers
of the Furhers Super-Army lying on top of one another
all were dead, full of holes and horrible gashes on their
wide-eyed faces and their clothes smoking from the phosphorous grenade
I had dropped. The three survivors were alive because they
were in the gun room at the time of the grenade blast. The
other nine were in the hall for protection when down the air-shaft
over them came the first grenade. As we came out of the fort
all the forts along the beach wall seemed to be clear of Germans
and I first noticed about 50 prisoners in a sort of large sand hold
in the middle of two forts. We led our three prisoners and
push them down in with the rest of the scared Germans and there
was a big 4th Div. guy with a tommy-gun trained on them. We
began to look around and the shell fire was still heavy down by
the waters edge where troops were still coming in the many boats.
We looked forward and I saw for the first time
what a mine was. There was a field behind these forts of about
300 yards where was what seemed to be a road by a farm house.
From there kept coming machinegun fire but across the field ran
hundreds of soldiers towards the road and every once in a while
an explosion would go off and a body would fly in the air.
Over to one side lay a sign which said Achtung Mines (meaning
Attention Mines). It was a warning for German soldiers.
We heard a roar and as we looked we saw 8 tanks rumble across the
sand from the waters edge. They had just come off one of the
LSTs which were now coming in. A few yards from the
waters edge a blast knocked out a tank sending the treads high in
the air. A fire trapped the crew, if alive, inside.
Our next mission was at hand. Lt. Condan waved to us to come
over and in a minute we were there.
There were some of our fellows around and the
Lt. told us that TNT had been brought and we had to blow a gap in
the sea wall in order for the tanks to get in to help the 4th Div.
boys. I saw Garbini putting a charge by the wall they had
picked for the gap. I picked up a load of TNT and went over
to place it beside Garbinis charge, suddenly a shell landed
near me and I thought for sure it had hit Girbini but I soon saw
Garbini get up again and he was O.K. As I got along side him
I asked where Walters was. He told me Walters was dead.
A piece of shrapnel got him in the heart. Now Macie was there
with another load of TNT. The Lt. and Sgt. Tercatto came over
and set a fuse in it and when we got down there, there was a blast
and there was a hole in the concrete wall. Soon the first
tank came roaring through and there was a blast.
The second tank through the gap in the wall was
hit. A young Lt. lay on the sand where he was blown from the
tank. There was a sniper in the farm house picking away at
us when a tank stopped, set his cannon at the house and the sniper
was knocked out. Our next mission was to clear a field to
make roads as the U.S. Army was moving in. The sky was full
of transporters coming in from the sea with paratroops and soon
we saw them circle around and drop their loads in the woods behind
the road when the Germans had their mortars trained on us.
Soon we heard a rat-a-tat and bang-bang of the hand to hand fighting.
Soon the 4th Div. moved forward with more tanks that had now come
in now even anti-air craft guns mounted on half-tracks could be
seen coming through the gap we had blown in sea wall.
The day was almost over for us. We stayed
on the beach clearing mines to make more roads and we had made the
beach head. Even the shells didnt come over so often
just every once in a while one would go off. In the distance
we could hear shells and gun fire more on in the advance on Normandy.
It was dark now and my first day of war was almost over and over
for good for a lot of American boys! Guards were put up on
an ammo dump and we tried to rest. We heard the roar of guns
for those who got no rest. Down by the beach could be seen
boats of all sizes, knocked out jeeps, tanks still burning.
Ducks wounded being carried aboard ships whose
ramps were open on the beach as wounded was being taken in.
Over to one side there was a first aid station where wounded were
cared for and over a few yards laying in rows could be seen hundreds
of bodies lined up beside each other. There were Navy, 4th
Div., 82nd Paratroopers, 101st Paratroopers , 29th Div., Rangers,
1st Div., 1st Brigade (us), Air pilots that were shot down
all lined up along side each other.
Medics were still bringing in bodies and laying
them in rows. This was the cost of the invasion. There
would be many others but we had made it and I wasnt in those
rows not yet. Just a few miles away we looked at the
sky and the flashes and the sound of shells filled the air.
Yes, we were the lucky ones we were left behind.
June 10th, The Worst
Now the days begin to pass and the terrible war was leaving us behind.
Every day we waited anxiously for news of how our boys were doing.
Then came June 10th, one of the worse days of my life, a day I will
never forget. It was about 2PM, the sun was high and it was
a hot day in Normandy, France. I was in my sandy fox hole
with a shelter half over it to keep rain and sun out, when a fellow
moved me and said Amador, Lt. wants to talk to you.
I was sleepy after guiding motor convoy through the mine fields
all night. I came up and Lt. was seated on a sand pile.
He was in a quiet mood and said, Sit down.
I knew something was wrong for this was unusual,
then he began, Amador, I dont know how to begin.
When was the last time you heard from your father? Two
weeks, I said. Then it hit me something had happened
to my Pop! As he kept talking he said The Red Cross
has been trying to find you since before we left our home camp at
St. Austell, England. Finally, it got to our Brigade.
Chaplain would have liked to tell you instead but he phoned and
told me to tell you. All he knows is your Father died on April
21, 1944. How or from what we have no other information.
Im sorry, Amador. I sat on the ground dumb, lost,
I couldnt think. It seemed impossible, I just couldnt
believe it. How could this be? The Lt. got up and walked
away and I just sat there not being able to realize the truth.
I must be dreaming.
The days passed and I prayed. Then
towards the end of June outside of every day having a Gerry plane
come down and taking a few fast shots at us we kept to our jobs
of guiding in coming troop convoys across the beach mine fields
and the outgoing convoys of poor torn, beaten up bodies of American
wounded. Soon, our first batch of mail came in and I got the
news from home. Nance wrote saying everyone was find but told
me Pop died from Appendix operation. (I found later this was
not true). I felt bad and wondered how Ma was taking it, then
tried to get it off my mind.
Pvt Monico C. Amador
Dads Journals were put into print
and interpreted by long hours spent by Jeanne Amador. Many
thanks to her. Jim Amador edited and added the photos and
artwork. Photo of Uncle Mele from Chris Equihua.
Shoulderpatch of the 3rd Army.
Monico in Europe.
Monico and one of his friends.
Monico after the war returned to the US in Pennsylvania and later
his family grew up in Santa Clara, California. He was involved
in politics. Here he is with with Bobby Kennedy.