GRANDCAMP, NORMANDY, FRANCE - JUNE 4, 1994
Twenty-three trawlers of Grandcamp's fishing fleet await the Rangers and their families for a pilgrimage by sea to Omaha Beach and the Pointe du Hoc. At 6:30 a.m., the tidal gates open and the little boats set out for open seas under gray skies and drizzle.
|The sea starts to kick up; the boats rock and pitch; the rain falls. The coastline becomes a gentle blur. Some of the passengers crowd into the tiny cabins for shelter but the stench of diesel fuel drives them back onto the open decks.|
|The thundering of the engines throb in our ears. Young Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment huddle around the boat's engine for warmth.|
|Behind us, on the Cartouche, a camera man from CNN clamps himself to the ship's mast to prevent him and his camera from falling overboard.|
|At the Pointe du Hoc, the fleet halts. Suddenly, everyone is silent. Twenty-three horns blast in unison in homage to fallen Rangers. A wreath is thrown into the sea. Faces cloud over. Tears flow softly.|
|It is an intensely personal moment. One Ranger confides later that his best buddy was hit next to him as the two leapt out of their landing craft. For years, he had been afraid to find out what had happened to him. But now he knew. He had discovered his name on a commemorative plaque here in Normandy.|