This page features photos from Harold Plank’s return trip to the site of the D-Day invasion off the coast of France.  The trip took place on April 8–15, 2003.
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Harold Plank at his farm in Northern Pennsylvania on the morning of April 8, 2003.
Ready to check in at the Elmira, NY, airport. L-R: grandsons Jon, James, and Andrew; son Harry, Harold (seated), and his wife Hazel.
The first leg of the journey--a flight to Philadelphia
Leaving the hotel in Paris to travel
to the Normandy region.
Harold and Hazel the the Ranger's Museum in the town of Grandcamp Maisy, France
Harold was able to locate his name in the museum where they display a complete list of Rangers who participated in the D-day invasion at Pointe du Hoc.
Each of the family members signed a
guest book at the Ranger's Museum.
Pointe du Hoc--the site of the Ranger's
invasion of Normandy on D-day.
Andrew and Jon in front of German
bunkers at Pointe du Hoc
Jon and Harold (photo taken from inside a bunker)
The Plank's at a monument at Pointe du Hoc
which honors the Rangers
Visiting with tourists from Belgium
Revisiting the memories of 59 years ago.
Pointe du Hoc looks down on Utah Beach
to the left and Omaha Beach to the right
On D-day, there were six 155mm cannon in these heavily reinforced concrete bunkers which were capable of hitting either beach with their big shells.
Looking out over the more than 300-foot-high cliff. On D-day, Harold and his fellow-soldiers climbed ropes to reach the top as Germans at the top tried to hold them back with hand grenades and machine gun fire, often cutting the ropes when they were part-way up.
Of the 235 men who had landed with the 2nd Ranger Battalion at the bottom of the cliffs and climbed up, only 87 of them were able to walk out of there when they were finally relieved two-and-one-half days later.
Grapnels with attached ropes were fired to the top of the cliffs.  Many of the grapnels never reached the top because they were soaked and too heavy.
After enough Rangers were on top of the cliff, word was sent to allied bombers so they could divert to other targets. The code phrase for achieving their objective was “Praise the Lord,” which was sent out over the equipment which Harold Plank carried up the cliffs.
Harold’s son, Harry, poses in one of
the many craters that remain
A crowd of tourists gathers around Harold Plank, interested to hear from a real D-day Ranger who was fortunate enough to survive the battle without serious injury.
Crowds continued to gather during each
of our visits to Pointe du Hoc
Departing on a boat to see Pointe du Hoc
as the Rangers first saw it--from the water.
Approaching Point du Hoc from the water
Harold believed this was the area that
he climbed Pointe du Hoc on D-day.
A side-trip to the town of St Mere Eglise
Harold was spotted by these Dutch soldiers who were being trained by a US Army Ranger (center, back to camera)
They were interested in hearing Harold's stories, seeking photographs and autographs to remember him by.
James Plank poses at Utah Beach
Andrew Plank at Omaha Beach
Jon Plank at Grandcamp Maisy, the small coastal town where the family stayed while in Normandy.
This is a view of the family-run Hotel Duguesclin where the Plank's stayed
Scenes from Grandcamp Maisy
Anticipating French cuisine!
More scenes from Grandcamp Maisy
Boats in the harbor, the hotel visible
 in the background
A pier on the English Channel
The Plank's visited the grave of Hazel's uncle in the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. In this photo a staff member is using sand from Omaha Beach to make the words on the marker more visible.
At the grave of Hazel's uncle
Harold reflecting at the grave of his captain, Jonathan Harwood, who who died from injuries he received while giving Harold a break from his duties.
While at the American Cemetery, the Dutch soldiers who had first met Harold at St Mere Eglise were also visiting at the American Cemetery. They held a short ceremony in honor of Captain Harwood.
Jon Plank at the American Cemetery.
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