By William F. Floyd Jr.
By dawn on June 9, 1944, the men of the Company C, 1st Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, of the 82nd Airborne Division found themselves engaged in a fierce firefight with German troops at the village of Cauquigny just west of the Merderet River in Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula. The company’s forward platoon soon became pinned down in a ditch by enemy fire. As they sought a way out of their predicament, the Germans maneuvered to outflank and annihilate them.
When it became apparent to New Yorker Private Charles N. De Glopper that his platoon might be slaughtered, he left the cover of the ditch and knelt in the roadway firing his Browning Automatic Rifle to cover the withdrawal of his fellow airborne troops.
He immediately attracted the enemy’s attention. German soldiers began firing on him from several directions. Although he was soon wounded, he continued to fire burst after burst from his BAR until he was killed outright. For his remarkable courage and gallant sacrifice that day, De Glopper was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. De Glopper showed the value of the BAR in furnishing covering fire with a portable automatic weapon.
The first generation of machine guns, unveiled in the late 19th century, were far too cumbersome to be used in any manner except in fixed positions. Hiram Stevens Maxim, a native of Sangerville, Maine, was the first weapons designer to combine the words automatic and machine gun. He invented a recoil-op
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