George Kerchner, who as an Army Ranger was decorated for bravery in leading his company up the face of a towering cliff to seize a battery of German big guns overlooking the American invasion beaches of D-Day, died on Feb. 17 in Midlothian, Va. He was 93.
His death was announced by his family.
For all the countless acts of bravery on June 6, 1944, when American, British and Canadian troops breached Hitler’s Atlantic Wall in the invasion of Normandy, the Rangers’ storming of the 130-foot-high Pointe du Hoc, scaling it with ropes after coming under fire on the beachhead, remains one of the most enduring in memory.
“These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc,” President Ronald Reagan declared at the site, accompanied by Ranger veterans, on D-Day’s 40th anniversary in 1984. “These are the champions who helped free a continent.”
Lieutenant Kerchner was among more than 200 men from the Second Ranger Battalion who climbed Pointe du Hoc on a mission to seize a cliff-top outpost, kill its German defenders and knock out their 155-millimeter guns, which could have brought devastating fire on the American troops landing at the beaches code-named Omaha and Utah.