U.S. ARMY CHEMICAL CORPS
Hall of Fame
Private Donald B. McLaren
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, the 81st Chemical Battalion (Motorized), was among the first waves to land on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, spearheading the Liberation of Europe from Nazi control.
The 81st’s primary mission was to use their 4.2-inch chemical mortars to provide fire support to attacking infantry. The 4.2-inch mortar, and the cart on which it was transported, weighed a total of nearly 500 pounds, with each high explosive shell weighing an additional 26 pounds.
The 81st was tasked to provide fire support for the 29th Infantry Division until that division’s artillery could be landed the following day.
Four members, PVT Donald B. McLaren, Tech 5 Felice J. Savino, SGT Raymond E. Nicoli and PVT Benton L. Porter, of D Company would be recognized for exceptional heroism for their actions that day, when their landing craft was hit by enemy fire and sank just short of the beach.
All four would be wounded, but would ignore their wounds in order to make repeated trips to their submerged landing craft, attaching inflatable life belts to their mortar and ammunition carts, in order to float them ashore and put them into action.