US Coins

U.S. coins capturing history: D-Day forces enter 'jaws of death'

Editor's note: The following is the eighth in a series of posts on the historical record that can be tracked through U.S. coins. The subject is the cover story of our July monthly issue.

To read other stories in the series, click here.

A few short years after Gettysburg’s 75th anniversary, the United States found itself at war again. 

American involvement in World War II began in earnest once the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy, Dec. 7, 1941. The war would be waged in multiple theaters and on multiple fronts.

In 1944, Hitler’s troops were fighting Russian forces on the Eastern Front, while American, British, Canadian, and French forces were planning for an invasion of France at Normandy. The invasion opened up another front in the war and paved the way for the liberation of Europe.

Robert F. Sargent captured the challenges faced by Allied soldiers in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, famously in the photograph titled “Into the Jaws of Death.” 

In the image, assault craft land among one of the first waves of troops at Omaha Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

In 1993, the U.S. Mint honored World War II with three commemorative coins, including a silver dollar emblematic of D-Day, when some 176,000 Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of northern France.

On the obverse of the coin, a single soldier rushing toward the beach from the surf dominates the obverse, with other soldiers in the background seen in landing craft and on the beach. The reverse carries a quote from Allied Expeditionary Forces commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would later become president of the United States. 

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