0700: Robert Capa captures Huston Riley in the surf

One of the truly iconic images of the whole war, Robert Capa’s picture of the reality of Omaha beach.

About half an hour after touching down with the first wave on Easy Red, Life Magazine photographer Robert Capa was still trapped on the shoreline. He lay on a patch of sand between the incoming sea and a line of barbed wire which was being laced with machine gun fire. Only the incline of the beach gave him and the men around him some protection. At some point he looked back out to sea, and took this picture of Huston Riley as he finally reached the beach.

Private First Class Huston Riley, who after the Nazis shelled his landing craft jumped into water so deep that he had to walk along the bottom until he could hold his breath no more. When he activated his Navy M-26 belt life preservers and floated to the surface, Riley became a target for the guns and artillery shells mowing down his comrades. Struck several times, the 22-year-old soldier took about half an hour to reach the Normandy shore. Capa took this photo of him in the surf and then with the assistance of a sergeant helped Riley, who later recalled thinking, “What the hell is this guy doing here? I can’t believe it. Here’s a cameraman on the shore.”

For the full story of this image see Time Magazine

For a full illustrated story of D-Day and the Normandy campaign explore hundreds of contemporary images in the iPad App Overlord. The free iBook US Forces on D-Day provides a sample.

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