He was only seventeen years old when he hit the beach right off of Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, and private Alan Spiro, now age eight-eight. told me that after a day of fighting "the ocean water was blood red." Pointe du Hoc was the highest point between Utah Beach to the West and Omaha Beach to the East. Private Spiro is one of the few surviving members of the United States Army Ranger Assault Group which was the subject of Ronald Reagan's famous 40th anniversary speech given at Pointe du Hoc, the most famous presidential message ever given about D Day. He told us that it took close to three hours under heavy fire for him to scale Pointe du Doc. He said that he lost a lot of friends: "You can not imagine what it is like to have one of your best friends die right next to you, and there is nothing you can do."
Private Spiro told me that he carried a mortar, but abandoned it because it proved to be useless. He exchanged the mortar for a sharpshooter gun which he would carry all the way to Berlin. My little sister Virginia was next to me for most of my conversation, and Private Spriro told me that he could not really describe the battle with someone twelve or under present. He thought it was too much for their ears. But he did describe how he targeted Germans at night by their rifle fire and the fact that he killed dozens if not hundreds. He said there were two types of men who walked away from D Day: those who could sleep for the rest of their lives and those who could not. The second group of men tended not to live long.
After D Day he was under orders to make it to Berlin and find Hitler. His group caught a ride on Patton's tanks, but by the time he arrived in Berlin, Hitler was dead. He was also one of the men to liberate the concentration camp Buchenwald. He said the liberation of the camp was a terrible scene. The Germans put up a big fight and many soldiers and Jewish prisoners were killed.
Like most of the men of D Day, he had not spoken about the battle until recently. Now he gets together regularly with the few survivors of Pointe du Hoc. He told me that this was his first trip to Normandy since D Day and he hoped he could see some of his old friends he had not seen since the war.