The D-Day invasion of Normandy shortly after midnight on June 6, 1944, when English and American paratroopers began descending from the skies to their respective landing zones. Unfortunately for one element of the U.S. 82nd Airborne missed their intended landing zone, coming down instead into Sainte-Mere-Èglise, where German soldiers were waiting for them
Among the more fortunate that day was Private John Steele, whose parachute snagged on the church steeple. Here he hung loosely, pretending to be dead as many of his comrades were shot on their descent into the town. Private Steel would later be captured, escape, and later rejoined elements of the 82nd.
Private Steele’s ordeal was depicted by Red Buttons in the motion picture The Longest Day, based upon the outstanding bestseller by WWII historian Cornelius Ryan.
More photos from the Sainte-Mère-Église Church: