Coast Guard Heroes at Normandy
Selected combat award citations of Coast Guardsmen decorated for valor under fire during the Normandy Invasion. Note: The award citations were copied verbatim.
Samuel W. Allison, Silver Star
Lieutenant Samuel W. Allison was awarded the Silver Star: "For conspicuous gallantry in action as Commanding Officer of LCI(L) 326 during amphibious landings on the French coast June 6, 1944. Displaying superb seamanship and dauntless courage, Lieutenant Allison successfully landed units of the Army, then stood off the beach for salvage duty. Realizing that the services of a control boat were urgently needed, he volunteered for this assignment and, in the face of concentrated shell fire and constant threat of exploding mines, effectively directed boat traffic throughout the remainder of the initial assault."
George C. Clark, British Distinguished Service Cross
Lieutenant George C. Clark was awarded the British Distinguished Service Cross. His citation reads: "During the landing of commandos at Quistreham by LCI (S) on June 6, 1944, Lieut. Clark's cutter was detailed to act as escort to LCI(S) HM LCI(S) 524 on clearing the beach after landing troops received a direct hit and blew up in a sheet of flames leaving a mass of blazing Octane petrol on the water. Although his cutter burned Octane petrol, he did not hesitate to steer his craft into the flames and rescue the commanding officer and some of his men."
Gene R. Gislason, Silver Star
Lieutenant Gene R. Gislason was awarded the Silver Star: "For outstanding heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS LCI (L) 94, while landing assault troops in Normandy June 6, 1944. He successfully directed his ship through numerous beach obstacles to the proper beach, discharged his troops and retracted while his ship was seriously damaged from heavy enemy fire. Ship's communications, engine telegraph and electric steering were disabled by direct hits on the pilothouse which killed three crewmen, and one screw and shaft were rendered inoperative by beach obstacles. By his coolness under fire and excellent seamanship, Lieutenant Gislason overcame these difficulties and brought his ship off the beach on hand steering and one screw. He later supervised repairs and in four hours enabled the LCI (L) to remain operative in the assault area for three weeks."
Coit T. Hendley, Silver Star
Lieutenant, junior grade Coit Hendley was awarded the Silver Star: "For heroism as Commanding Officer of the USS LCI (L) 85 while landing assault troops in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. Lieutenant Hendley successfully landed his troops despite the mining of his vessel, fire in three compartments and a concentration of enemy fire while unloading. His courage and seamanship in directing repairs and retracting from the beach resulted in saving the lives of many wounded aboard."
George F. Hutchinson, Silver Star
Lieutenant, junior grade George F. Hutchinson was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry in action against the enemy as Commanding Officer of the USS LCI (L) 83 while landing assault troops in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. Lieutenant Hutchinson directed his ship to the beach through heavily mined obstacle while under heavy enemy fire that caused numerous Army casualties, successfully unloaded troops after the ship was mined and remained with the ship effecting repairs that enabled it to come off the beach on the next tide."
Miles H. Imlay, Silver Star
Captain Miles H. Imlay was awarded the Silver Star: "For conspicuous gallantry as Deputy Commander of an Assault Group participating in the initial invasion on the coast of France, June 6, 1944. Undaunted by heavy enemy fire, Captain Imlay courageously took station close to the shore on the early morning of D-Day and, throughout the most bitter period of the fighting, coolly and promptly made spot decisions on the reorganization, grouping and dispatching of craft to the beach, subsequently relieving the Task Group Commander of his duties when he withdrew his transport from the assault area. Immediately thereafter, he was placed in charge of operations afloat as assistant to the Naval Officer in Charge of one of the beaches and, discharging the duties of this responsibility with distinctive professional ability, contributed essentially to the rapid clearing of the backlog of ships."
Note: he also earned the Legion of Merit for his actions at the invasion of Sicily and a gold star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit for his role during the invasion of Salerno, Italy.
Gene E. Oxley, Silver Star
Seaman 1/c Gene E. Oxley was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry while on the USS LCI(L)-85 during the assault on the coast of France June 6, 1944, and for extraordinary courage in volunteering and twice taking a line ashore, in the face of heavy machine gun and shell fire, in order to assist troops unloading from the ship to the beach through chest deep water."
Robert M. Salmon, Silver Star
Lieutenant Robert M. Salmon was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry as commanding officer of a U.S. LCI (L) while landing assault troops in Normandy, France, June 6, 1944. He pressed the landing of troops despite the mining of his vessel, a serious fire forward and heavy enemy gunfire. He supervised the unloading of troops, directed the fire fighting despite the loss of proper equipment and exhibiting courage of a high degree remained with the ship until it was impossible to control the progress of the fire until it was impossible to control the progress of the fire and it was necessary to abandon ship over the stern. After abandoning he directed a party searching for fire fighting equipment and subsequently fought the fire on another LCI (L) and assisted her commanding officer until she was abandoned."
William F. Trump, Silver Star
Motor Machinist's Mate 1/c William F. Trump was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry and intrepidity in action in the assault phase of an LCI (L) which landed troops in the face of severe enemy fire and despite a profusion of beach obstacles on the coast of France June 6, 1944. Having volunteered for the assignment he waded between the heavily mined beach obstacles and dragged an anchor and anchor-line to shallow water, thereby providing a safety line for troops to follow."
Aden C. Unger, Silver Star
Commander Aden C. Unger was awarded the Silver Star: "For outstanding services as a deputy assault group commander in the assault on the coast of France, June 6, 1944. He took his station close to the beach under heavy enemy fire on the day of the assault and remained under fire during the most bitter period of the fighting, when with great coolness he made decisions on the spot, reorganized, grouped and dispatched craft to the beach, and made the weight of his judgment felt in a manner which contributed materially to the success of the operation."
Arend Vyn, Jr., Silver Star
Lieutenant junior grade Arend Vyn was awarded the Silver Star: "For gallantry in action as Commanding Officer of USS LCI 91 in the assault on the coast of France June 6 1944. Lt (jg) Vyn beached his ship and discharged the Army elements therein in the face of murderous fire and a labyrinth of obstacles and mines. In spite of the fact that his ship was mined and repeatedly struck by artillery fire and small-arms fire, he continued to land the army load in the face of certain loss of his ship. His determination to put the Army ashore was in keeping with the highest traditions of the offensive spirit of the United States Naval Service."
Quentin R. Walsh, Navy Cross
Lieutenant Commander (later Captain) Quentin R. Walsh was a member of the Logistics and Planning Section, US Naval Forces during World War II. Prior to the Normandy invasion, he planned the occupation and operation of the ports that were to be captured from the Germans, including Cherbourg. He was awarded the Navy Cross for: "Heroism as Commanding Officer of a U.S. Naval party reconnoitering the naval facilities and naval arsenal at Cherbourg June 26 and 27, 1944. While in command of a reconnaissance party, Commander Walsh entered the port of Cherbourg and penetrated the eastern half of the city, engaging in street fighting with the enemy. He accepted the surrender and disarmed 400 of the enemy force at the naval arsenal and later received unconditional surrender of 350 enemy troops and, at the same time, released 52 captured U.S. Army paratroopers."
Robert G. Ward, Silver Star
Seaman 1/c Robert G. Ward was awarded the Silver Star: "For conspicuous gallantry in action during the landing operations against the enemy on Cotentin Peninsula, France, June 6, 1944. While acting as coxswain of a landing craft in the first wave, Ward successfully landed his troop personnel despite enemy opposition. Upon retracting from the beach he observed the stranded crews from two other landing craft whose boats had been destroyed by enemy mortar fire. Ward returned to the beach, took off both crews despite continued shelling, and returned safely with them to his ship."