AfriGeneas Military Research Forum
A 2nd African-American Combat Unit Landed on D-Day
It is difficult to give up a singular place in American history. Nevertheless, the 320th AAA was not the only African-American unit to land at Omaha on D-Day. It was not even the only African-American AAA unit to do so. Battery A of the 452nd AAA Bn. (colored) landed at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 at approximately 17:00 hours. I have spoken face-to-face with the man who served as Gunnery Sgt of Battery A on the event of his 90th birthday in Santa Rosa, California. Previous to that date and before I was contacted by his son when I sought momentoes of the 452nd on eBay, I had read an interview conducted by a reporter for a small local newspaper in Florida with a 91 year-old African-American man who described in some detail his remembrance of having landed at Omaha Beach with a unit of the 452nd AAA that had been attached at the last minute to an U.S. Army armored infantry division (?). I took his story with a grain of salt as the information I had was that the 452nd AAA had arrived at Normandy either at D-Day +7 or D-Day +20.
However, the gunnery sgt's account was very similar in that he also stated that only a single 'battery' of the 452nd had landed and also described the time of landing as being at around 6:00pm. These two gentlemen had absolutely no way to know of each other or to share the facts which each had stated separately on separate sides of the continent about 3 years apart.
It is a well-known fact that Orders of Battle are not 100% accurate and that a certain amount of last-minute shifting of resources means that some units listed in the Order did not actually arrived on D-Day and some that did were not listed. This holds true particularly for the U.S. Army Anti-Aircraft battalions, as their repeated attachment and detachment to and from much larger unit forces frequently resulted in their omission from readily accessed records.
I do not know what the 320th did following the landing it made at Normandy but the 452nd went on to engage the enemy repeatedly in most major campaigns, including Ardennes and the invasion of Germany while attached to Patton's Third Army. The 452nd achieved between the first and the third highest number of confirmed enemy aircraft kills in the entire European Theater.