The D-Day Invasion is Topic of Throwback Thursdays this Weekend
On January 21, 2013 the last of the “Filthy Thirteen”, Jake McNiece, died at the age of 93. McNiece and his sub-unit to the 101st Airborne Division were the first in on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and were the inspiration for E.M. Nathanson’s book entitled THE DIRTY DOZEN which became a movie in 1967 starring some of the greatest actors of our time.
Being part-Choctaw Indian, McNiece had an idea how to psyche up his squad for their first combat mission: D-Day.
The scene was caught on camera: Jake and his buddies beside their plane, with their mohawks, daubing each other with warpaint. They jumped into Normandy just hours later.
"I jumped in with 20 men and came out with two."
Jake McNiece was not what you call a conventional soldier.
He and his men, most from the dustbowl area of country, didn't believe in doing anything that didn't involve killing the enemy, or preparing to kill the enemy.
"We had no respect or discipline to show to officers or really any of the regulations. We were really just a damn good bunch of soldiers."
His squad of misfits was nicknamed the Filthy Thirteen; the inspiration for the movie the Dirty Dozen.
But Jake says they weren't felons like those in the movie.
"Well, we often went AWOL. We were called the Filthy Thirteen. We never took care of our barracks or any other thing, or sanitation, and we were always restricted to camp. But we went AWOL every weekend that we wanted to and we stayed as long as we wanted till we returned back, because we knew they needed us badly for combat. And it would just be a few days in the brig. We stole jeeps. We stole trains. We blew up barracks. We blew down trees. We stole the colonel's whiskey and things like that."
McNiece's ability to lead, and inspire, led him to get promoted frequently. But just as frequently he was busted down to buck private. He and his men were demolition saboteurs, attached to the 3rd battalion of the 5-0-6th Parachute infantry for D-Day. "It was truly a suicide mission. I lost most of my men in the first two hours."