W Britain Soldier of the US 101st Airbourne Glider Infantry Regiment Standing Firing
The 101st Airborne Division first saw combat during the Normandy invasion - 6 June 1944. The Screaming Eagles were to capture the causeway bridges that ran behind the beach between St. Martin-de-Varreville and Pouppeville. In the division's southern sector, it was to seize the la Barquette lock and destroy a highway bridge northwest of the town of Carentan and a railroad bridge further west. At the same time elements of the division were to establish two bridgeheads on the Douve River at le Port, northeast of Carentan.As the assault force approached the French coast, it encountered fog and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the planes to break formation. Paratroopers from both the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas. For many the first struggle of combat was to find their units; 1500 soldiers from the division were killed or captured. When units or soldiers finally assembled, they had difficulty in identifying their locations relative to their objectives. The paratroopers of the 101st were promised reinforcements at dawn, when 51 of the division's gliders were scheduled to land. The gliders, however, had problems of their own. Many of the gliders crashed, and several soldiers of the division were killed, including Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt, the assistant division commander. A second glider landing at dusk that day produced even more casualties.