It was on 6 June, 1944, that the largest amphibious invasion of the second World War took place.
Known popularly as ‘D-Day’, it involved ground, air, and naval forces from 13 Allied countries. The target was 50 miles of French coastline, divided into five sectors. Due to stiff resistance, it was not possible to link all the beachheads until 12 June, but the invasion provided a foothold for Allied operations which would gradually expand and begin the drive on Nazi Germany from the West.
The previous night and into the early morning hours of 6 June, 13,000 paratroopers of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were dropped into the zone. One of those from the 101st, was Tom Hildebrand of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, father of UW-Madison Sr. Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Scott Hildebrand. The elder Hildebrand was grievously wounded on the first day, later re-joining his unit for several more significant engagements throughout the course of the war, including the ‘Battle of the Bulge’.