The Story Behind the Photos:
You can search Spearhead in the West,
or the 3AD Illinois Archives, or even the National Archives and
you will find no more than several photos of the 3AD's arrival
in France on Omaha Beach on June 23 & 24, 1944. But none
are more dramatic than the never-before-published "amateur"
shots that came to us in February, 2006, from Al Golisano of
Long Island, NY, a WWII veteran of 3AD's 36th Infantry Regiment
In this section we are including the "top five" of
Al's photo collection from that Normandy landing, plus a group
photo of the survivors of his unit - "I" Company, 3rd
Bn, 36th Inf - taken several weeks after Germany's surrender.
They are pictured rested and all cleaned up in the town of Offenbach,
Germany, southeast of Frankfurt, where they had started occupation
duty. Of "I "Company's original stateside training
group of about 200 soldiers, these 32 men were the only ones
not killed or incapacitated during nine months of combat.
Foe reasons of security, the unauthorized use of cameras by U.S.
troops landing in Normandy was forbidden, that is, for those
who got the word. Cpl. Al Golisano and a buddy, each with a camera,
snapped more than a few, as elements of the 36th Inf and 32nd
Armor Regiments came ashore in several LST's and prepared to
move inland for their first action against the Germans.
Al believes that the films were not developed until right after
the war, at which point he and his buddy had copies made and
shared their photos. The name of that buddy, he regrets, he cannot
remember, nor is Al sure of which of them took which photo; therefore
the credit will go to both men.
Now "flash forward" over sixty years to January, 2006,
when John Hiatt, age 25, of Kansas City, MO, the grandson of
3rd Armored veteran Robert Vincent Hiatt, e-mailed our Web Staff
a research paper he had written about his grandfather's WWII
experiences. Robert, also known as "Vince," had passed
away in 1993. A Kansas City native, he had been another "I"
Company buddy of Al's, and, in the course of his research, John
had interviewed Al by phone and happened to borrow several of
his photos for the project.
Needless to say, those few photos, or their e-mail print-outs
that arrived with John's paper, set off alarm bells here at the
Web Site "HQ", which happens when really special 3AD
photos appear. Al was subsequently contacted directly at his
home in Ridge, NY, and happily obliged by sending us the original
photos for scanning and, finally, for posting for everyone to