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John Steele (1912-1969)

John Steele’s story is a remarkable tale from World War II, particularly during the D-Day invasion, which was a pivotal moment in the war.

Steele, a paratrooper in the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, was among the thousands of Allied soldiers who parachuted into Normandy in the early hours of June 6, 1944. His objective was to secure key points and disrupt German defenses behind enemy lines.

However, during his descent, Steele’s parachute got snagged on the church spire in the town of Sainte-Mère-Église. He found himself hanging high above the ground, exposed to German gunfire and unable to free himself. Despite being wounded, he played dead, hoping to evade capture or further injury.

For what must have felt like an eternity, Steele dangled from the church, witnessing the chaos of the invasion unfolding below him. Eventually, German soldiers noticed him and attempted to bring him down. Miraculously, Steele survived the ordeal, was taken prisoner by the Germans, and later managed to escape.

His story of dangling from the church became one of the iconic images of the D-Day invasion. It’s a testament to the bravery, resilience, and sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought in that critical moment of history. Steele’s experience, immortalized in books, documentaries, and films like “The Longest Day,” serves as a reminder of the incredible courage displayed by those who participated in one of the most significant operations of World War II.