Plymouth’s D-day veteran, Sergeant Tom Ruggiero is one of three surviving members of Dog Company—his 2nd Ranger Battalion unit. They were part of a force of over two million men who were to storm ashore onto the coast of Nazi occupied France and scale a rocky 100 foot cliff 70 years ago this Friday.
Their mission on June 6th 1944 was to knock out the German guns on top of the cliff. As his landing craft approached the beach, Sargeant Tom Ruggiero was carrying explosives to do just that.
“That’s what I was supposed to do, but what happened was all of a sudden, we were taking water in. It was choppy, up and down, up and down, and the next thing I knew, we were all in the water. We lost five guys that were trying to swim. You could not swim.”
So, for over two hours, with bombardments from US warships from behind, directed at the Germans on the cliff, and rounds from German soldiers in their bunkers—aimed at the US gunboats, Sgt. Ruggiero tried not to freeze to death.
When these rangers were re-equipped a few days later, they were put ashore at Point du Hoc and caught up with the remaining men of their Company, who fought on to the last big German offensive at the Battle of the Bulge.
The greatest land, sea and air attack in the history of the world was a success. Eleven months from D-Day, the Germans surrendered.