D-Day, World War II. Seventy-four years ago, on June 6, 1944, Allied Forces launched the largest amphibious attack in history. It was the turning point of the war in Europe.
In the climactic Battle of Normandy, which gave the Allies a pathway into occupied France, more than 160,000 Allied troops came ashore along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified beaches. The successful invasion eventually resulted in the liberation of Western Europe from the control of Nazi forces. 5,000 ships and vessels were involved in the invasion. 13,000 aircraft gave support from overhead.
Among the ways in which this massive military operation was supported was the development of Jed teams—short for Jedburgh, their official code name. A Jed team consisted of between 2-4 men led by either a British or an American officer, a radio operator, and a second officer who was a native of the country into which they were being deployed.
Jed teams received extensive training in language skills, military tactics, navigation, radio communication, and skills such as skiing and mountain climbing. Their mission was to prompt and coordinate overt activities by the French Resistance to slow and divert the Nazi armies from impeding the advance of the Allies—and to stop the destruction of roads, bridges, and infrastructure by the retreating Nazi armies. The Jeds were an extension of the Allied forces into the communities being liberated. They were the eyes and ears for the Allied forces and could call for airdrops of supplies and equipment that would assist the “Maquis”—the French Resistance.
More than 90 Jed teams parachuted into France to help with the Normandy invasion in the early morning hours before D-Day, or later into Southern France for the follow-up invasion there in August 1944. Six more teams parachuted into the Netherlands prior to the large airborne invasion in September 1944.
Small and well-organized teams: skilled, focused, and effective. It was difficult, dangerous work. And the difference they made was significant—noted by both Allied and German leaders in the later analysis of D-Day operations. The Jed teams were the forerunners of the special operations teams that are now a critical part of most military operations.
The individual acts of so many courageous and dedicated individuals have begun to be obscured by the 74 years that have passed since D-Day, but our admiration and respect for what they achieved is undimmed. The anniversary next Wednesday is another opportunity for each of us to express gratitude and appreciation for what they achieved.
Ours is an organization that fully understands the significance and power of dedicated teams: teams that are carefully organized and that are skilled, focused, and effective. Teams that save lives. Teams who collaborate to create outstanding care for those we serve. It is through the work we do together as teams that we fulfill our sacred mission to extend God’s care through a ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing.