The Long Blue Line blog series has been publishing Coast Guard history essays for over 15 years. To access hundreds of these service stories, visit the Coast Guard Historian’s Office’s Long Blue Line online archives, located here: THE LONG BLUE LINE (uscg.mil)
On June 6, 1944, Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class William F. Trump was aboard one of the many Coast Guard-manned ships that landed on the beaches of France on D-Day.
The Coast Guard-manned LCI(L)s, or landing crafts, were 158-feet long and 23-feet wide and were the smallest sea-going amphibious crafts involved in the invasion. Trump was aboard LCI(L)-90, which was commissioned on Feb. 6, 1943, and after months of trainings and exercises the crew sailed across the Atlantic.
Trump and his crew participated in the occupation of Tunisia on June 1, 1943, the invasion of Sicily on July 9, 1943, and the landings at Salerno on Sept. 9, 1943. The crew then sailed for England as part of Flotilla 10, in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.
As a member of the landing craft infantry, Trump studied detailed maps of the terrain and memorized key landmarks along the coastline that would guide them to their assigned landing area.
The crew of approximately 27 men aboard each craft carried 200 troops in the invasion and the crew’s mission was to get the soldiers safely onto the beaches of France. The beaches were treacherous enough, but Trump volunteered for a duty that would put him directly in the line of fire. Trump volunteered to disembark his landing craft and head onto the beach to anchor a line that troops would use for safety.
Already under severe enemy fire, Trump met an abundance of beach obstacles as he waded between the heavily mined beach and dragged an anchor and anchor-line to shallow water. He safely managed to secure the line that acted as a safety line for troops to follow as they transited the beach.
Trump put himself in the line of fire to aide others and, due to his valor in action in the assault phase of the landing at Normandy, was awarded a Silver Star Medal in October 1944.
There were a total of 99 warships and large landing vessels manned by Coast Guardsmen for Operation Neptune and the Coast Guard lost more vessels that day than on any single day during its history. Eighteen Coast Guardsmen gave their lives in service to their nation, while 38 more were seriously wounded.
Of the landing craft that were involved in the invasion, seven were lost, with three swamped in the heavy surf, and four sunk by artillery fire.
After departing Operation Neptune, LCI(L)-90 was involved in other key naval battles and in June1945 was hit by a Japanese suicide plane, forcing it to depart for repairs. On April 8, 1946, the landing craft was decommissioned after valiant service to the nation.
LCI(L)-90 crews earned five battle stars for service in World War II and all of the landing craft infantry of Flotilla 10 were retroactively awarded the Coast Guard Unit Commendation for their service in the invasion of Normandy.
William Trump’s Silver Star Medal citation reads:
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class William F. Trump, United States Coast Guard (Reserve), for gallantry and intrepidity in action in the assault phase of an LCI (L) which landed troops in the face of severe enemy fire and despite a profusion of beach obstacles on the coast of France on 6 June 1944. Having volunteered for the assignment Motor Machinist’s Mate First Class Trump waded between the heavily mined beach obstacles and dragged an anchor and anchor-line to shallow water, thereby providing a safety line for troops to follow. His determination to carry out his duty in disregard to the many dangers close at hand was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard service.