Less than two weeks after D-Day, Warrant Officer Robert J. DeMatio hit Omaha Beach with the 118th Field Artillery Battalion, 30th Infantry Division, XIX Corps, United States 1st Army. It was the first stop on a journey through France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany that wouldn't end until VE-Day in May 1945, a journey he chronicled in a typewritten history of his "rear echelon" section. Sixty-six years later, that journal in hand, Joe DeMatio retraces his late father's route in a Cadillac CTS-V coupe and learns that American power -- at least automotive power -- is still embraced on the Continent.
"D" Day -- 6 June 1944 -- found us sweating out the radio reports of the invasion. We were rarin' to go and the time weighed heavily on our nerves, as we had been alerted and told to stand by. After two or three false alarms, the battalion took off at about 0230 on the morning of 12 June 1944. On June 16 we started moving down to Southampton, where we were loaded onto a Liberty ship...On the morning of the 18th, we were lying off Omaha Beach on the coast of France. The water was jammed with boats of all sizes and descriptions. As we came in closer, we could see the hulks of the ships that had been sunk, both ours and the enemy. The beachhead was a scene of orderly confusion. The hillside and bluff immediately before us was all torn to hell from the terrific battle that had gone on there. We were fortunate in being able to run right up close to the shore and were landed in about two feet of water, without getting a thing wet. We hit the beach at about 1900 hours. -- RJD
(Right: Robert J. DeMatio in uniform)