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Fox News visits D-Day Memorial

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Shoots several segments for documentary airing Sunday

By John Barnhart

    A Fox News crew showed up at the National D-Day Memorial to shoot video that will be used in a D-Day documentary, slated to air on Fox News Sunday at 10 p.m. and again at 1 a.m.

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    According to Peter J. Russo, a senior producer with Fox, the documentary is called “D-day Plus 70: Secrets Revealed.”
    “We found some seldom told stories,” Russo said.
    Some material came from British records that were not declassified until the 1990s. Other material comes from a discovery made by a British fellow named Gary Sterne, who collects militaria.
     According to Russo, Sterne came across a map that had been found in the trousers of an Army Ranger. It had a place marked as an area of high resistance near the village of Grandcamp-Maisy. Sterne went to the site  marked  on the map and, while walking, tripped over the top of a chimney. A subsequent excavation revealed one of the largest German artillery batteries in the area. Russo said Rangers were in a six hour battle, which included hand-to-hand combat, to capture it. Shortly after it was taken, it was buried by Army bulldozers so the Germans couldn’t easily reoccupy it if they recaptured the area.
    The site consists of miles of trenches and concrete bunkers. Russo said the remains of a German  solder were found during the excavations.
    “This battery was active for three days,” Russo said. “It’s not in the [history] books.”
    “That’s one of our untold stories,” he added.
    The documentary also includes some underwater video. One of the efforts that didn’t work well, on D-Day, was floating Sherman tanks. They were equipped with two propellers and surrounded by a floatation screen, allowing them to be launched off shore and come into the beach on their own power. The system worked fine in calm water, but the water off Omaha Beach was rough on D-Day. Almost all of those that were headed to Omaha Beach sank.
    They are still there, sitting on the bottom right where they went down — 33 tons of encrusted steel, as Russo put it. The documentary includes video of them.
    Greta Van Susteren flew in from Washington to shoot the introductions for segments of the documentary and interview April Cheek-Messier, president of the National D-Day Foundation. Van Susteren had recently been in Iraq.
    “This bar right here made it to Iraq,” she commented as she snacked on an energy bar before the shoot.
    Van Susteren always carries these because she often ends up in places where she can’t depend on palatable food.
    “I’ve had MREs,” she commented, “MREs are so bad!”
     Van Susteren was impressed with the D-Day Memorial.
    “This place is magnificent,” she said.
    She’s already been to the beaches in Normandy.
    “You go to the cemetery and you can’t even speak,” she said.
     Van Susteren’s World War II connection comes through her mother, who found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was a young woman traveling in Europe and was in Germany when Germany invaded Poland. This led to a quick, unscheduled trip to the coast of France where she and a large number of Americans fleeing Europe boarded ships headed back to the States.
    While Van Susteren interviewed Cheek-Messier, Griff Jenkins, a Fox News correspondent, interviewed Lucille Boggess, who lost two brothers, Bedford and Raymond Hoback, on D-Day. Raymond’s body was never recovered, but a soldier found his Bible on the beach and returned it to Raymond’s family. Boggess brought the Bible.
    After the interview,  Van Susteren asked Boggess if she plans to eventually donate the Bible to the National D-Day Memorial.  Van Susteren promised that, if Boggess does donate it, she will donate an oxygen-free display case for it.