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For over eight years, Eric Montgomery has been on a mission to close the final chapter of his great uncle Amin Isbir’s D-Day story.
Coxswain Amin Isbir, a member of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion, was reported killed in action on June 8, 1944. His great nephew, Eric Montgomery questioned his date of death believing that he had been killed in action on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Isbir’s commanding officer, Ensign Joe Vaghi, confirmed Montgomery’s suspicions.
Onboard Coast Guard operated LCI-L 88, Amin and his Company C8 shipmates were being transported along with members of the 5th Engineers Special Brigade and 1st Infantry Division soldiers to the Easy Red One sector of Omaha Beach. During the landing, the ship came under heavy fire, losing one of its two ramps along with a number of the soldiers from the Big Red One.
Once the surviving solders were unloaded, Beachmaster Vaghi and Isbir hit the sand. As they were helping a wounded soldier onto a stretcher, a German railway gun from five miles away landed a shell onto the beach hurling a jeep high into the air. The jeep landed on Isbir killing him instantly.
Ensign Vaghi was knocked unconscious from the blast. Due to continued hostilities, Isbir’s body was not recovered until two days later and the Navy listed his date of death as June 8, 1944. Isbir was posthumously awarded the French Croix de Guerre for bravery and the Purple Heart.
Isbir’s tombstone in the Normandy American Cemetery listed his date of death as June 8. Since the Navy recorded his date of death as June 8, the National D-Day Memorial Foundation did not include him on the Memorial Wall after its initial research (as the Foundation only researched and recorded June 6 fatalities).
In 2009, 65 years after Isbir’s death, Montgomery was successful in getting the Normandy American Cemetery to replace the June 8 tombstone with a corrected one. The plaque containing the addition of Isbir’s name will be officially dedicated to the Memorial Wall at the National D-Day Memorial during the D-Day commemoration ceremony.
During the ceremony, which begins at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 6, the Memorial will also recognize members of the 101st Airborne Division who are commemorating their 70th anniversary this year. The 101st will participate with an Honor Guard and with a wreath laying at the event.
Members of the 29th Infantry Division will also participate. Special music will be provided by the Enduring Freedom Honor Team from Fredericksburg. Tours will be provided throughout the day. Admission is free until noon. Regular admission fees apply after noon. Guests are encouraged to bring a chair to the event. Special seating and shade will be provided to World War II veterans.