Intermission Stories (25)

Martin Painkin

Martin Painkin

Martin Painkin

The U.S. Army Ranger

Martin Painkin was born in the Bronx, New York and joined the National Guard in the fall of 1940 – he was 15 years old.  Nearly four years later, he landed in the middle of a massive invasion.  “It was a slaughter.  It really was,” said Martin.

As a 19-year-old Private First Class with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, Painkin landed at Pointe du Hoc, the cliff promontory between Utah and Omaha Beaches, at 0711 hours – 41 minutes after H-Hour on the Longest Day.  The Germans welcomed the Rangers to Normandy with concentrated rifle, artillery and rocket fire.  For many of the men, the assault was over before it began.

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“As soon as we hit the beach and they dropped the ramp, bam!  They were dead,” said Painkin.  “All around you there were burning ships and a lot of guys floating face down.  Dead.  Kaput.”  The Rangers that made it to shore alive and uninjured flattened themselves on the beach.  “You lay in the sand and you were too scared to move.  In front of you , you would see little dots in the sand, and those were machine-gun bullets.”

By noon, the survivors scaled the 100-foot cliffs before them and their commander transmitted a message, “Have reached the Pointe du Hoc.  Completed. Need ammunition and reinforcements.   Heavy losses.” (No reinforcements were available.)

Rangers demonstrate the D-Day climb at Pointe du Hoc

Rangers demonstrate the D-Day climb at Pointe du Hoc

“The lucky ones, we made it,” Martin added.  “Whenever we ran into something tough   , they’d say, ‘Send in the Rangers!’  We were not supermen, as they thought we were.  We were maybe just a little better trained.”

For various actions throughout 1944, Martin Painkin was awarded more than a dozen medals for valor: Silver Star, Bronze Star, British Military Medal of Valor, Distinguished Service Cross, Purple Heart, and Croix de Guerre to name a few.  (“Boy, oh boy, I must have been some idiot,” Martin said.)

Painkin’s wife, Barbara, also at the interview, began to read from her husband’s Silver Star citation:

On numerous occasions he purposely exposed himself to well-aimed enemy fire in order to determine the enemy positions.  After locating these positions, he boldly attacked and demolished them.  He continued for three days to act with utter disregard for his own safety as he hunted and destroyed numerous snipers and machine-gunners.”

“You know something?” Painkin said.  “That shows we were idiots.  I mean, who the hell would do that?  A lot of these things we did without even thinking.  I tell you one thing – I wouldn’t do it again.”

Bill Mauldin's version

Bill Mauldin’s version

Martine Painkin gave this interview to Staci Sturrock, of the Palm Beach Post, from his wheelchair where he now lives at the VA Community Center, Riviera Beach, Florida.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current veteran news – 

The attributes we so love in the Greatest Generation continue in many of our people today.  One such example is the stamina and endurance of Sgt. Cory Remsburg, 75th Ranger Regiment.  While on his 10th deployment, was paces behind a fellow soldier as he stepped on a mine.  Cory was transported, while in a coma, but still alive.  After 5 years, various VA hospitals, numerous doctors and operations, countless hours of rehap and the efforts of an army of caregivers – including his father, stepmother and service dog, Leo – Sgt. Cory Remsburg managed to stand in front of the U.S. Congress and give a thumbs-up!

 Army Ranger 1st Class Sgt. Remsburg

Army Ranger 1st Class Sgt. Remsburg

Notice the sign above the mirror

Notice the sign above the mirror

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Farewell Salutes – 

Carl Booker – Richardson, TX; US Army, Sgt., WWIIlest-we-forget

James Caesar – Mill Creek, WA; US Army, Lt.Colonel (Ret.), Vietnam 2 tours

Gerald Dederick Jr. – Hackensack, NJ & Gulf Stream, FL; US Navy, WWII, Medical corps, USS Dover & land hospitals

Norman Eldeer – Calgary, Can.; Canadian & UN forces, Major 35 years

Joe Moore – Brookfield, MO; US Army (Ret. 21 years), WWII & Korea

Donald Prindiville – Lombard, IL; US Army, WWII

Athol White – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4215809, WWII

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 25, 2014, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 67 Comments.

  1. Great storys my friend, the true heroes accept their actions and move on in life.
    Found great heroes in the book you mentioned, Stubborn Buggers, but found the Aussie LT Pernod Dean reminding me of the guy out of King Rat.
    Cheers
    Ian

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    • I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the Intermission. Remember, as I go back into the beginnings of WWII, if I mess-up or need more info about Australia, etc – set me straight!!

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  2. The DSC… He is lucky to have lived… And I pray for Sgt. Remsburg continuing fortitude.

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  3. It’s interesting to read what he said. He has vivid way of describing things.

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    • I thought he sounded down-to-earth with a dry humor on the side – this post seems to have really been received well. I thank you for reading and commenting on it as well!!

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  4. What a guy! And a sense of humour too.

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  5. RANGERS LEAD THE WAY! I was Ranger qualified and got the tab in 1986… My hats off to all the Rangers from the revoloutionary war to present. From Point du Hoc to Cu Chi and from Mogidishu to the Bekkar Valley.
    Excellent post! 🙂

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  6. Ah, I shall disagree with Martin’s idea of supermen – they were supermen – in courage +

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  7. The story gpcox of Martin Painkin was one of many of young men whose bravado,courage , daring and heroics enabled the Allies to secure victory in 1945. We all own them such a debt for providing for us the freedom that we now enjoy.

    Thank you Martin.

    Ron

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    • You are so right, Ron. I know I owe them much more than I can ever repay. Thanks for reading here today and taking the time to comment. I wish I had more time on the computer to comment on everyone else’s site.

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  8. May our nation never forget the bravery and sacrifices of these great men.

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  9. That was an awful time. I like the comment about being ‘better trained’. I think that’s true. Chris Kyle alluded to that in American Sniper–the Army soldiers he worked with were eager to learn, but had never been taught so much of what Chris ultimately showed them.

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    • I completely agree, Jacqui. In the Pacific, our original problem was the lack of constant training after WWI and we were left untrained soldiers. A reason, the 11th A/B was jungle-trained, etc. to actually begin the idea of Special Forces. They had far fewer casualties than other units because of their fitness and newly learned abilities.

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  10. I find it tremendously interesting that even the men such as he who exhibited such bravery wonder how on earth they did it!

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    • I don’t know how old you are, but think back to your earliest memories – does it still seem as tho it is you or does it seem you’re looking at snapshots? The older you get, the farther and more separated your younger self becomes. And Every 19 year old is Invincible!! (or nuts!) O_o

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  11. I think the ones who have their eyes opened are the ones who put away the ‘decorations’ and try to quietly forget all about it.

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  12. I think because he was so young, he hadn’t realized yet he was mortal! I know I did some pretty stupidly dangerous things when I was young and thought nothing of it at the time! So much bravery in these young soldiers; it boggles the mind. Wonderful story.

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    • Thanks, Linda. And I totally agree. Yeah – some of the things I pulled off when I was young, seems almost like another person did them. I suppose Life has a tendency to change you.

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  13. Once again, it simply boggles the mind what these guys did. –Curt

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  14. gp. Another great man Ranger Martin Painkin from THE BRONX, New York! The Rangers scaling Pointe du Hoc always fascinated me as what the landing was all about!!!!!!!! –GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Phil

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    • I am getting the impression that you rather enjoyed this post, Phil – is that correct? 🙄 Thanks for reading, I believe you enjoyed it!! 😆

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  15. I’m sure nobody would choose to do this if they were evaluating a plan that said “stand up and get shot at in order to determine the enemy positions.” On the other hand, if you put these people back into that same situation, my guess is they would do the same thing. That’s why they are heroes.

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    • As most of the men say, you don’t really think about it. You’re given a job and you have to find a way to do it. As best as I can imagine D-Day, very few had time to think about much of anything. Thanks for stopping by, Dan.

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  16. I do not recall reading any one of your posts without shaking my head, and uttering, “Wow!” Honestly, how does one comprehend the bravery of these men? He stood out in the open to determine enemy positions; it’s astonishing what he did. Thanks again for another eye-opening post.

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  17. That’s the most realistic and honest D-Day account, I’ve ever read.

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  18. I wanted to comment, but I cannot stop crying. God bless them all, living and deceased.

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  19. Paikin’s last quote reminded me of one by Anthony Burgess. “One of the delights known to age, and beyond the grasp of youth, is that of Not Going.”

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  20. Interesting comment : ” I wouldn’t do it again . ” From the older man’s perspective . The world should fight wars only with old men . Then there might be an end to it .

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  21. Pierre Lagacé

    I guess I will have to ask you for the privilege of writing a guest post on your blog…

    http://425alouette.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/where-to-begin-part-3/

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  22. Pierre Lagacé

    You know GP that these Intermissions Stories will last forever… You won’t be able to stop writing about them.

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    • The stories could go on forever, but will stop after the 4th of July. If that additional research doesn’t arrive by then – the final post will go in with what I have and I’ll get into the very beginnings of WWII. Eye-witness stories, etc. will be included in the future posts, but the Intermission is about over.

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  23. Pierre Lagacé

    Best D-Day story I have ever read!

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  24. Pierre Lagacé

    Reblogged this on Lest We Forget and commented:
    Story about how D-Day really was…

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  25. What a climb! And what modesty from Painkin.

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  1. Pingback: For D-Day, Two survivors sing a WWII foxhole song … | Pacific Paratrooper

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