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1st Lt Robert M. Mathias - E Co.

At 2.00 a.m. on June 6th 1944, 1st Lt Robert Mason Mathias and 16 men in his command were in the darkness of a C.47 plane. He was the leader of the 2nd platoon, E Company, 508 P.I.R.

When he saw the red light come on, he shouted, "Stand up and hook up."

With machine-gun bullets tearing through the plane, the men were shouting; "Lets go!"

But it was Lt Mathias duty to wait and to keep his hands on the doorway ready to propel himself into the night the instant the green light came on.

Suddenly a shell burst went off beside him.

Red-hot flak ripped into his reserve chute and into his chest.

It knocked him off his feet, and with all the strength he had, he began to pull himself back up.

Then the green light came on.

With blood streaming from his body, he raised his right arm and called out, "Follow me," and he leaped out into the night.

Lt Robert M. Mathias died in his chute and has been documented as being the first American officer to have been killed on D-DAY.

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