Salvatore J. “Sam” Favazza
Written by his daughter Karen Favazza Spencer
November 20, 2006
Branch of Service: Lt. Jr. Grade, U.S. Navy
Fought In: Normandy
He didn’t talk about it, and I knew it wasn’t something he really wanted to talk about, but I knew Dad was in the Navy at Normandy and in the Philippines. But once, when I was ten, and we had been watching a special on the 20th anniversary of D-Day, I asked if he was in the “first wave” I heard about on tv.
“We weren’t the first wave, we were the first ship to reach Omaha Beach! It was still dark when we saw Easy Red. The crossing was rough, we got separated and ended up out ahead. The rest of the armada was no where in sight. We tried to stay close to shore, but not too close, and hoped and prayed we weren’t spotted while waiting for our air cover and the rest of the fleet. We rendezvoused with our group at 5:00 a.m.”
I asked him what kind of boat he was on and if they were carrying a lot of soldiers. He told me:
“I was the Relief Officer on LCT 541. LCTs are flat bottomed, 119 foot long, and have several watertight compartments. They’re difficult to control in open water, like the English Channel, but are able to get into very shallow water to unload. We were carrying four half-tracks for the 16th Infantry Cannon Company along with 8 personnel to drive them. Half-tracks are built like a truck in front with wheels and with tracks in the rear, like a trank. We were supposed to land them at the Easy Red section of the Beach at the same time as the amphibious DUKWs that were carrying the 16th Infantry howitzer cannon and personnel. The half-tracks were supposed to transport the cannon & men up the beach and to the top of the bluff at the St. Laurent exit.”
“After a couple of failed attempts, we managed to land the half-tracks at 8:30 that morning, but the DUKWs carrying the cannon and many of their soldiers were swamped in the choppy seas and never made it to the beach. The half-tracks, along with most of the vehicles didn’t get more than 50 yards up the beach before being stopped by the Germans. We spent the rest of the day transporting the wounded from the beach and water to the hospital ships and taking other cargo and men from the deep water Liberty Ships to the beach, whenever there was an opening.”
Although I rememered the story, I needed assistance with the details concerning Dad’s cargo and the timing of the events off Easy Red. Thank you to: Joe Graham, Dad’s best fried and war buddy; Laurent LeFebvre, French D-Day Historian who provided the lading table; Jonathon Gawne, American D-Day Historian who explained the role of Half-tracks and howitzers at Easy Red; and to David Allender, 16th Infantry Historian.