Close this search box.
Close this search box.

D-Day-80 Years Later—Recalling a Hero Corporal Emanuel Steiner

This Thursday, June 6 th , marks the 80 th anniversary of one of the most momentous days in the
history of modern civilization. The “D-Day” Allied invasion of occupied France on the beaches of
Normandy in 1944 was the largest amphibious invasion in military history. The naval assault
alone included 195,000 personnel from 8 countries using over 6,000 ships and landing craft.
More than 13,000 paratroopers and over 11,000 allied aircraft provided cover and support for
the assault troops on the beaches. The enormous scope and complexity of the invasion was
such that the planning of it had begun years prior.


At stake in this unprecedented endeavor was nothing short of the future of the free world. By
1940, Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler had conquered all of Eastern Europe from the low
countries to France. During the ensuing occupation the Nazis systematically killed and
imprisoned millions. The atrocities of this regime are well documented and deplorable, most
notably for the near total annihilation of the Jewish population in most of Europe. The Allies,
namely the United States, Great Britain and Canada, supported by a smaller number of troops
from some of the defeated European nations, launched the long awaited D-Day invasion with
the goal of freeing occupied Europe from the terror grip of the Nazis.


The early hours of the fighting were chaotic and even grim at times, with missed drops by the
paratroopers and intense, deadly fire from the heavily fortified German defense posts. The vast
majority of the allied troops were transported by boat, fighting ashore at five specific beaches,
code named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The invasion had begun in the early morning
hours and by the end of the day an estimated 156,000 allied troops had stormed onto the
Normandy beaches. The allied forces were ultimately successful and were able to hold the
beachfronts. Within 4 weeks, over 1,000,000 additional Allied troops had come ashore through
Normandy and the beginning of the end of the Axis power’s control of Europe was secured.



The harrowing experiences of some of the invasion forces are well known, especially the
paratroopers of the 101 st Airborne- who were brilliantly memorialized in the HBO miniseries
“Band of Brothers” from 2001. The HBO series covers their heroics throughout the war,
beginning with D-Day. Not every regiment that participated in the invasion received the media
attention they deserved, but history shows that the Normandy campaign was a Herculean
effort in which reports of uncommon valor and heroism were a common theme in the recounts
of survivors from that fateful day.



The D-Day invasion was heroic, but incredibly costly as well. Over 4,000 soldiers are estimated
to have died in the initial landings. One of those casualties was a Clarkstown resident, Corporal
Emanuel “Joe” Steiner of Central Nyack. Emanuel Steiner, or Joe, as he was called by friends
and family, had served in the United States Army for seven years. He had joined as a member of
the reserves in 1937 and was discharged in May of 1940. Later that year, he re-enlisted and was
called back to active duty upon the start of the war. Joe had married Agnes Sosna, who was
from Rockland Lake, and together they had two children, Buster and Robert. A heartbreaking
photo and story ran in the Rockland Journal News on July 29, 1944 showing Corporal Steiner
holding his then infant son Buster outside of the family home in Central Nyack. At the time of
his father's death, Buster was only 21 months old.


Corporal Steiner had been assigned to duty as a radio specialist in the 121 st Engineers Battalion,
part of the 29 th Division which landed on Omaha Beach. Omaha Beach saw perhaps the heaviest
and fiercest fighting of the entire Normandy invasion. As General Omar Bradley once said,
“Every man who set foot on Omaha Beach was a hero.” The 29 th Division saw some of the
heaviest and deadliest fighting on the beach and was highly distinguished, not only here but
throughout the remainder of the war. According to U.S. Army records, 96 members of the 121 st
Engineers Battalion died during the war. Corporal Steiner was one of ten who died on D-Day or
“D-Day Plus One” (June 7, 1944). None of these great soldiers died in vain; Paris was liberated
in late July and the War in Europe ended on May 8 th , 1945—less than a year after D-Day.
According to defense department records, over 16.5 million men and women served in the
military during World War II. It is not known how many D-Day veterans are still alive. During
World War II, a male could join the military at age sixteen with parental permission. Even the
youngest serving in the war would be 95 if alive today. Corporal Steiner, who was only 24, had
so much to live for and never enjoyed the boom of the post war. His sacrifice is never to be


Time is relentless as the greatest generation passes away the stories of heroism as a part of
history. Few are alive today who lived through the struggles and horrors of that time, and still
fewer who served. We can and must never forget the sacrifice and service of Emanuel Steiner
and the many others who gave their lives so that Europe could be free.
The world we live in and enjoy today exists because Emanuel Steiner and so many others gave
all of their tomorrows so we could have today.