As 160,000 Allied soldiers landed at Normandy on June 6, 1944 the rest of the world knew little about what was happening but were anxious for news about the war.
W. Wright Bryan, Clemson class of 1926 and managing editor of The Atlanta Journal, was on temporary assignment covering the war in Europe. He gave weekly radio broadcasts from London in 1943 and 1944.
On June 6, 1944, Bryan was embedded with a squadron of U.S. paratroopers who crossed the English Channel to Normandy with the first group of planes. Returning to England, Bryan broadcast the first eyewitness account of the massive Allied invasion for NBC radio.
“In the first hour of D-day….the first spearhead of Allied forces for the liberation of Europe landed by parachute in northern France. In the navigator’s dome and the flight deck of a C-47 I rode across the English Channel with the first group of planes from Troop Carrier Command to take our fighting men into Europe.
Just before we left French soil for the return trip to England I watched from the rear door of our plane…as seventeen American paratroopers, led by a lieutenant colonel, jumped with their arms, ammunition and equipment into the moonlit night of German-occupied France…”
A few months later, Wright Bryan was one of the first reporters to enter Paris after it was liberated. In September 1944, while covering the activities of the Third Army, he was wounded and captured by the German army. He was held prisoner in German-occupied Poland for five months before being freed by Russian troops.
After a long career as editor of The Atlanta Journal and then The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bryan returned to his home town of Clemson in 1963 and became Vice President for Development at Clemson University until 1970.
For more information see The William Wright Bryan Papers (mss 249)
In 1947, W. Wright Bryan received a Medal of Freedom from General Dwight D. Eisenhower for his services as a war correspondent.