Arundel History

June 04, 2006

1944: First ashore At Normandy

At the start of the Allied invasion of Normandy, the turning point of World War II known as D-Day, an Army officer from Linthicum, Leonard T. Schroeder, was the first American to step ashore in France. The day was June 6, 1944, the time was 6:28 a.m. and the place was Utah Beach.

At 25, Schroeder was a ROTC captain and commander of an infantry company that crossed the English Channel on a transport troop carrier and then a small landing craft. The unit's mission was to break up the fortified seawall and liberate a small village five miles away from German control. Schroeder sustained shrapnel wounds in his left arm from German artillery machine gunners.

Schroeder graduated from Glen Burnie High School, where he was a star athlete, and attended the University of Maryland until the draft. He became a career Army officer, retiring as a highly decorated colonel. Schroeder, 87, and his wife Margaret now live in Largo, Fla., near St. Petersburg. "It's a touchy time of year for a guy like me. There's not many of us left," Schroeder said Friday.

Back in 1944, The Evening Sun noted: "A reporter reminded him that when his boot touched French soil, it was a great moment in history."

[Sources: Leonard Schroeder, The Sun and Evening Sun archives; Paul McCardell, Sun researcher]

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