It's been seventy years since the boats invaded the beach at Normandy to fight one of the bloodiest battles the world has ever seen. However, not everyone who went ashore that day was armed.
Lt. Col. George Russell Barber of the U.S. Air Force was one of the last surviving D-Day chaplains when he died in 2004. He was the only member of his craft who landed without a weapon to protect himself, because he was there with a different mission-- to provide spiritual support to wounded and dying men.
“I talked to as many as I could and prayed with them," he told Mark Ellis of Godreports. "I said, ‘Trust in God.’” Barber remembers that as soldiers died in front of him, he recited from John:14, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions…”
He wasn't the only chaplain at Normandy that day. Here, we remember the men who kept faith alive in the hellish depths of World War II.
Father (Major) Edward J. Waters, Catholic Chaplain from Oswego, New York, conducts Divine Services on a pier for members of the first assault troops thrown against Hitler's forces on the continent. Weymouth, England., 06/06/1944 (U.S. National Archives)
The Seabees of the 111th Naval Construction Battalion give thanks on D-Day plus 12, 18 June 1944. Navy Chaplains have served around the world with Seabee battalions since their inception in 1942. Chaplains prayed and conducted regular services, using any available area including a ships deck, an apple orchard, a hand-cut hole in a Pacific-island jungle or a makeshift tent for a church. They will use a jeep, packing case or ammunition box for an altar, or a helmet for a yarmulke, the top of a mess kit for a paten or a canteen cup for a chalice. (U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Flickr)
Chaplain saying mass aboard HMS Scylla, laying at anchor off the Normandy coast shortly after the D-Day invasion of France June 12, 1944. (British Official Photo/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)