Heroes: the Army
"...Then we saw that the beach was literally covered with the bodies of American soldiers wearing the blue and gray patches of the 29th Infantry Division..."
Lester L. McLean
- Branch of Service: Army
- Unit: 618th Ordnance Ammunition Co., 6th Engineer Special Brigade, 74th Ordnance, 29th Infantry Division
- Dates: 1943-1945
- Location: European Theater
- Rank: T/Sgt.
- Birth Year: 1922
- Entered Service: Louisiana
A Loving Tribute to My Grandfather
Lester Leonard McLean, my grandfather, was a supply sergeant in the U. S. Army, 618th Ordnance Ammunition Company, 6th Engineer Special Brigade, under the 74th Ordnance, attached to the 29th Infantry. His company was sent to England for training. Most soldiers were billeted in civilians homes while they trained and waited. Friendships and bonds were made. While in England, replacements and support personnel were added.
On June 6, 1944, D-Day, the 6th ESB landed on Omaha Beach at Easy Red sector between 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. &endash; the third wave. According to my grandfather, artillery shells landed and exploded to the left and to the right of his landing craft. He told my dad, "I just knew the next one would hit us. All I could do was pray." My grandfather's buddy, Ralph Fancher, who was in the same company, told me the shells were going right over their heads. They rained down, exploding and sending water up into the sky. Tracer bullets bounced off of the landing boats.
The scene at the beach at that time was described by a lieutenant in the 6th Engineer Special Brigade as follows: "I noticed that nothing moved on the beach except one bulldozer. The beach was covered with debris, sunken craft and wrecked vehicles. We saw many bodies in the water... Then we saw that the beach was literally covered with the bodies of American soldiers wearing the blue and gray patches of the 29th Infantry Division."
Burning tanks and boats lined the water's edge. There was the sound of screaming and agony. Dead bodies rolled in the surf.
The men had to descend the ramp of the landing craft (some were transferred into a smaller boat and brought right onto the beach), carrying equipment, supplies, and ammunition. The company's original mission was to establish a beach dump near Vierville-Sur-Mer near the D-1 Exit. Rough winds and heavy seas had created confusion in the landings, so the dump they created ended up being near Les Moulins, near the D-3 Exit. This area was basically the dividing line between the 1st Infantry Division and the 29th Infantry Division.
They were in charge of supplying ammunition to the infantry on the beach.
Ordnance also does quick repair jobs. They would take good parts off one gun and place them on another, making a good rifle &endash; ready to be taken to the front. In essence, they made it possible for the infantry to fight the Germans.
We would not have won without them. At least, that's how a proud granddaughter sees it.
My grandfather was one of the lucky ones who made it home.
He went on to become a minister and did so for many years, until he died. He was married, had three children, four grand- children and one great-grandchild before he passed away of heart disease. I know he's looking down on me now, and I hope he knows just how pround I am of him. I will do my very best to make sure we never forget what he and the other brave men and women did for us.
----- Kim Johnston
Mr. Lester Leonard McLean
Date: December 31, 1991
Location: Memorial Cemetery, Bastrop, Louisiana
618th Ordnance Ammunition Co., 6th Engineer Special Brigade, 74th Ordnance, 29th Infantry Division --
World War II Veteran
United States Army
For additional information and images of the men of Mr. McLean's unit, please check out the following web pages by Ms. Johnston as a tribute to her Grandfather and the men that he served with.
618th Ordnance Ammunition Company
Interested in some background information?
Check out the related links below...
(Note --- These LINKS are Incorrect and will be changed....)
Welcome to the 29th Infantry Division
29th Infantry Division: WWII Casualty List
29th Infantry Division
29th Infantry Division (Another link)
U.S. Infantry Homepage
29th Division Association Links
History: 29th Infantry Division
29th Division Association Homepage
History of the Infantry
29th Infantry Division Project PIKE
National World War II Memorial
National D-Day Museum
World War II Causality Search
The materials depicted on this page were reprinted with kind permission of Ms. Kim Johnston, the granddaughter of Mr. Lester Leonard McLean.
We, at the World War II Stories - In Their Own Words web site wish to offer to Ms. Kim Johnston our most profound THANK YOU for sharing her memories of her Grandfather -- Mr. Lester Leonard McLean's experiences -- during World War II. We will always be grateful for Mr. McLean's contributions to the war effort and to the countless other men and women who put forth their "finest hour".
Original story transcribed from e-mail notations received beginning 13 June 2004.
Story added to website on 14 September 2004
September 5, 2002.
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