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CAPT. ROBERT ABRAHAM ... D-DAY

D-Day Death Still Real for Trooper
 By Katherine Hatch

There was a full moon and as Capt. Robert Abraham floated beneath his parachute toward French soil he could make out the cobblestones in the village streets.
   Seconds earlier, the 29 year-old army company commander had led 22 men out the door of a flak-damaged C-47, jumping into the bright moonlight at an altitude of 700 feet. They had missed their mark, but their orders were to jump anyway. No one was to return with the plane.
   "I didn't have much time to think when I was going down. We were so well trained and so oriented to what we had to do, the actual drop was just a way of getting there,
   "But I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't scared."
   It was D-Day June 6, 1944. The time was 2:30 a.m. and the place was the sky over the German-held Cherbourg peninsula.
   For Capt. Abraham and his men, World War II was very near. Now a. retired army colonel and executive officer of the Oklahoma Military Department, Abraham, recalled his personal D-Day experience on the occasion of the 25th anniversary Friday of the allied evasion of Europe.
   Abraham enlisted in the army in April 1941 and 15 months later he was training as a paratrooper in Camp Mackall. N. C.
   With other men of the 82nd Airborne Division, he was sent overseas for training early in 1944.
   I didn't know when D-Day would be -- the specific day ---
but we were sent 1train in England and Ireland.  We heard that there was going to be an invasion and that we were going to be part of It."
   Abraham, who commanded regimental headquarters company of. the 508th parachute infantry. regiment;, was told about D-Day three days before it happened.
  "We look off from an airfield near Nottingham, England about. 10 p.m. the night before, The planes were to fly threes In formations of nine.
  "We rendezvoused with the other planes, over the south coast of England and flew In formation over the
invasion fleet with our lights on so they would know where were.
   Flying southwest, plane pilots were signaled by submarine when to make their turn and head east toward France.

   "We flew, between the islands of Jersey and Guernsey, the Channel. Islands, at about 1,000 feet and Germans started firing. They had guns on the islands and there was bright moon light.
   "The plane went into some clouds and as we started out, the tail got hit. "They had said before left 'Don't bring anybody back. If you can't get where you're supposed to go, drop somewhere else, but don't come hack. We need every one there.'
   Because of the tail damage, the pilot couldn't make a turn he had to make so we went north of where we were supposed to be. It was 2:30 a.m. when we actually performed our leap. I was the first, one out. The last two who dropped landed in Cherbourg and were immediately taken prisoner but we got them back.
   Abraham landed 10 kilometers south of Cherbourg. about 8 kilometers behind Utah Beach.
   "We dropped in what appeared to be a command post of a German artillery unit. They covered the drop zone with fire for about 15 minutes and then, when the; planes left, the Germans quieted down.
   There were Germans "all around," Abraham said.
   We  were supposed drop right, back of the beach-head to prevent the German coastal divisions from being reinforced and to open up the beach for our men."
   It took Abraham and his men three days to reach their pre-planned drop area, "Ultimately, we had to go straight out to the beach and then come back around.
   We were In the area 35 days.. That was 35 days of combat.
   We went in with about 2,000 in our regiment. We took 1,300 casualties and 300 were killed, Some of. them are still hurled over there In Normandy.
   Paratroopers are a very proud outfit.  They like to excel."
   Out of the 150-man company commanded by Abraham, 100 men made it out walking. We left some over there, he said.

[The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, OK, , Page 22]

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