I’ve spent a lot of time around Omaha Beach in Normandy. It is a very special place for me as it is for many others. Every time I walk up the cliffs, I see the area where the 1st Infantry fought their way up. The 16th Infantry Regiment sector saw especially intense fighting under the gaze of the “wiederstandneste.” These were heavily fortified, concrete strong points that were connected by trenches and had interlocking fields of fire. They brought death and destruction to any unit who could not take them out. The planning for D-Day was meticulous and required, but the only thing that took that day for the Allies was determined junior leaders who took the mission as their personal mission to deliver that day. There were many valiant men that day, but none more so than 1LT Jimmie Monteith. Below is his Medal of Honor citation.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Place and date: Near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944.
Entered service at: Richmond, Va.
Born: 1 July 1917, Low Moor, Va.
G.O. No.: 20, 29 March 1945.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. 1st Lt. Monteith landed with the initial assault waves on the coast of France under heavy enemy fire. Without regard to his own personal safety he continually moved up and down the beach reorganizing men for further assault. He then led the assault over a narrow protective ledge and across the flat, exposed terrain to the comparative safety of a cliff. Retracing his steps across the field to the beach, he moved over to where 2 tanks were buttoned up and blind under violent enemy artillery and machinegun fire. Completely exposed to the intense fire, 1st Lt. Monteith led the tanks on foot through a minefield and into firing positions. Under his direction several enemy positions were destroyed. He then rejoined his company and under his leadership his men captured an advantageous position on the hill. Supervising the defense of his newly won position against repeated vicious counterattacks, he continued to ignore his own personal safety, repeatedly crossing the 200 or 300 yards of open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen links in his defensive chain. When the enemy succeeded in completely surrounding 1st Lt. Monteith and his unit and while leading the fight out of the situation, 1st Lt. Monteith was killed by enemy fire. The courage, gallantry, and intrepid leadership displayed by 1st Lt. Monteith is worthy of emulation.