American military historian reflects on 75th anniversary of D-Day

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On May 26, 2019

Even 75 years later, Omaha Beach is better known than understood, says Dr. John C. McManus, a military historian who has studied the battle for Omaha for 25 years.

“Only two kinds of people are going to be on this beach,” Col. George Taylor, commander of the U.S. Army’s lead assault regiment on D-Day told his soldiers, “the dead and those who are going to die. Now get moving!”

Those words inspired the title of McManus’ book, The Dead and Those About to Die, an account of the battle of Omaha Beach from the perspective of the 1st Infantry Division, known as the Big Red One. The book was first published in 2014 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and has recently been made available in paperback.

As the 75th anniversary of that battle approaches, McManus continues to tell the story of how the U.S. Army stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, to its ultimate victory, chronicling the real-life experiences of combat soldiers.

McManus will commemorate D-Day this year as a featured historian aboard the curated 75th Anniversary of D-Day Cruise sponsored by the World War II Museum. The cruise follows the path of Germany’s conquest of Western Europe and the Allied efforts to gain back control, starting in Amsterdam on May 29 and ending in Dover on June 7.

John C. McManus. Photo by Sam O’Keefe.

Also in honor of D-Day’s 75th anniversary, McManus spoke on, “U.S. Soldiers at D-Day,” at Gettysburg College in March. A C-SPAN library video of the presentation may be viewed at

McManus, a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of history at Missouri S&T, is one of America’s most distinguished military historians. He is the author of 12 non-fiction historical books about the American military experience.

McManus frequently serves as a subject matter expert and has appeared on PBS, CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, History, the American Heroes Channel, the Discovery Channel and the Smithsonian Network. Two episodes of “Hitler’s Last Stand,” a series on the National Geographic channel, were derived directly from his books.

McManus recently completed an academic year-long visiting professorship at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While there, he had onsite access to the Naval Academy library and the National Archives to work on his 13th book, Fire and Fortitude: The U.S. Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943. The book is scheduled for release in late July.

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On May 26, 2019.

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