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U.S. Coast Guard Awards

Owen Wesley Siler

14 July 1944

From: Commanding Officer, USS LCI (L) 85
To: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe
Via: Chain of Command

Subject: Recommendation for Silver Star award.

1.  Gene E. Oxley (560-274), Sea. 1/c, USCGR, now attached to the USS LCI (L) 85, is recommended for the Silver Star award with the following situation:

For extraordinary performance of duty as a member of the crew of the USS LCI(L) 85 during the assault on the coast of France on 6 June 1944 and for extraordinary courage in volunteering and twice taking a line ashore, in the face of heavy machine gun and shell fire, in order to assist troops unloading from the ship to the beach through chest-high water. His courage for volunteering for a job under extremely dangerous conditions and his bearing during an unusually severe experience was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Services.

2. This recommendation is based on the following facts:

The USS LCI (L) 85 was a part of the assault force, which made the initial landing on the cost of France on 6 June 1944. The LCI (L) 85 was scheduled to land on Omaha Beach, sector Navy Red, at H plus 120 (which made it at 0830).

The ship beached at this time but due to obstacles was not able to get close enough to put the troops ashore. Oxley voluntarily went down the ramp at this time with a line. This line was to be run from the ramp to the beach and assist the troops wading through the water.  However, after he had jumped off the end of the ramp and started in, it was decided that the water was too deep to attempt unloading. Oxley was taken aboard and the ship backed off the beach. This was done under heavy machine gun and shell fire although the ship sustained only one bad shell hit at this time.

The LCI (L) 85 proceeded about one hundred yards to the west and beached again. This time the fire was heavier. Oxley again took the line down the ramp. The water about chest deep off the end of the ramp. He made his way ashore and stood in the sand keeping a strain on the line as the troops began coming to the beach. This was in disregard of the fire on the beach. Ten minutes after he had gone ashore a shell blew one ramp over the side. The ship suffered approximately twenty-five hits from shells, all in the forward part of the ship, and was machine-gunned.  Fifteen of the troops were dead, approximately thirty wounded, all on board ship. These men did not get off the beach. This is mentioned as evidence of the heavy fire.

Since unloading was impossible under these conditions, the ship backed off the beach leaving Oxley ashore. The rest of the troops were unloaded by small boat. The wounded were taken out to the USS SAMUEL CHASE where the LCI (L) 85 sank shortly afterward.  Oxley tried to get off the beach first by catching a small landing craft.  This craft hit a mine as she was coming off the beach and Oxley was forced to abandon ship for the second time.

He managed to get off the beach by another small landing boat and was placed on the LCI (L) 93. This LCI was going into the beach with her second load of troops, having suffered little damage on the first beaching. This time, however, she was caught in heavy shellfire and began to burn. She had to be abandoned and Oxley went over the aide from his third ship that day.  Again he managed to get off the beach and this time went on board the LCI (L) 88, which delivered him to England. He joined the other survivors of his ship there.

3.  On the basis of these facts, Oxley is recommended for the Silver Star Award.

Coit Hendley
Lt. (jg) USCGR

Last Modified 1/12/2016