Technical Sergeant Frank Peregory
June 6th, 2014, the 70th Anniversary of D-Day –the invasion of German-occupied Normandy, France, is quickly approaching. As we reflect on one of the largest amphibious invasions in history, we remember those thousands who gave their lives defending ours. Frank Dabney Peregory was one of the 150,000 heroes who stormed the beaches that day.
Frank grew up in Esmont, Virginia, near Charlottesville. His family was considered poor but their love for one another made up for the financial difficulties. In 1939, when Frank was just 15 years old, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Virginia National Guard. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, his National Guard unit, Company K of the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division, was mobilized and sent to the beaches of North Carolina to keep watch for German submarines. While there, a fellow soldier fell into the water and began to drown. Frank disregarded his own safety, dove in and saved him. For his courage, Frank was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the highest honor a service member could obtain during peacetime.
Shortly after receiving his award, he and his unit were sent to England and Scotland for two years of extensive training. The days flew by and finally it was here – June 6, 1944, D-Day, Normandy. Every soldier received a new uniform and three days rations before the great endeavor. Frank, now a Technical Sergeant, and his unit were loaded aboard some of the first Higgins Boats to go across the English Channel. Even though it suffered many casualties during the landings, the unit pushed forward, giving aid to the Army Rangers at Point-du-Hoc.
Medal of Honor
Two days later on June 8, the soldiers were advancing on German held defenses at Grandcampe, France, when heavy machine gun fire halted their efforts. Frank took it upon himself to advance toward the enemy fortification. Without thinking about the impending consequences, he leaped into the trench and courageously attacked a squad of riflemen, capturing three and killing eight. Pushing onward in the trench, he single-handedly captured 32 more enemy riflemen and machine gunners, allowing his battalion to advance and secure the position. For his extraordinary gallantry, Frank was awarded the Medal of Honor, but he never received it while alive. A few days later, Frank was killed while fighting in the hedgerows.
We honor these men and women who gave their all for our nation. Frank’s story of heroism will forever be remembered at the Virginia War Memorial.