First Infantry Division Medics in Action: D-Day, 6 June 1944
Share this:

By The Smartencyclopedia Staff *

The Normandy invasion, commonly known as D-Day, occurred on 6 June 1944, marking a pivotal moment in World War II. The 1st Infantry Division, known as the “Big Red One,” played a critical role in this operation. The medics of the 16th Infantry and 1st Medical Battalion faced tremendous challenges and displayed extraordinary courage under fire, providing essential medical care amidst the chaos of battle.

The Medics’ Ordeal

Major Charles E. Tegtmeyer, the regimental surgeon of the 16th Infantry, starkly described the grim reality faced by the medics: “The Geneva Convention is a failure. Many of the Aidmen wounded were shot intentionally. The white brassard draws fire. The Craft bringing in the Collecting Company all members of which were wearing brassards received more direct enemy fire than any other craft. Since the landing on the beach, several Aidmen have been wounded by sniper fire. The Geneva Convention Brassard makes the Company Aidman’s job the most hazardous in the Army.”

The First Wave

Staff Sergeant Arnold (Ray) Lambert, from Selma, Alabama, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, embarked on a “Higgins Boat” approximately 10 miles from Omaha Beach. At 0630, his boat landed amidst intense enemy fire. Lambert, despite being wounded in the upper right elbow, heroically pulled wounded comrades from the water and administered first aid. Establishing a makeshift aid station among the concrete rubble, he continued his lifesaving efforts even after sustaining further injuries. Lambert’s determination exemplified the bravery of the medics who risked their lives to save others.

Subsequent Waves

The fourth wave saw the arrival of the 16th Infantry Regimental Headquarters and the medical section led by Major Tegtmeyer. Technician third grade (Staff Sergeant) Herbert Goldberg, the senior medic, organized the medics and coordinated their efforts under heavy fire. By 1040, they had established a hasty aid station at the cliff’s edge, providing critical care to the wounded. The regiment suffered a 30 percent casualty rate, forcing the medics to consolidate their resources and treat as many injured soldiers as possible.

The Role of Company A, 1st Medical Battalion

Captain Emerald Ralston, leading Company A, 1st Medical Battalion, faced significant challenges in landing on Fox Green Beach. Their landing craft, LCI-85, was heavily damaged, forcing the medics to jump into the water and make their way to the shore under enemy fire. Despite the chaos, Ralston and his team managed to tend to the wounded and eventually established a collecting station on Easy Red Beach. Ralston’s leadership and determination ensured medical care continued even in dire circumstances.

The 1st Infantry Division’s medics demonstrated unparalleled bravery and dedication on D-Day. From the relentless efforts of Staff Sergeant Lambert to the coordinated actions of Major Tegtmeyer and Captain Ralston, these medics exemplified the highest standards of military service. The regiment, suffering a 27 percent casualty rate, relied heavily on the courage and skill of its medical personnel. Their heroism was recognized with numerous awards, and their legacy is commemorated through various honors and memorials.

*source: U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence

Share this:
All comments.