The Invasion: June Night: Jun. 12, 1944

Inside a barbed-wire enclosure, where the crews of a troop carrier squadron were confined like some kind of rare and precious birds, a whistle skirled. Pilots, copilots, navigators turned out, listened to the briefing. They squinted at the sky. It was a squally night with a fitful, pale moon.

The Briefing Was Over. The men climbed into trucks, whipped off to the airfield. Already a clattering rumble spread across the night-hung countryside: engines on the warmup. They piled out of the trucks at the darkened stations and went to work.

Paratroops, grotesque and...

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