Into the Jaws of Death

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Taxis to Hell – and Back – Into the Jaws of Death, by Robert F. Sargent, CPhoM, USCG.
Original caption: "American invaders spring from the ramp of a Coast Guard-manned landing barge to wade those last perilous yards to the beach of Normandy. Enemy fire will cut some of them down. Their 'taxi' will pull itself off the sands and dash back to a Coast Guard manned transport for more passengers."

Taxis to Hell – and Back – Into the Jaws of Death is a historic photograph taken on June 6, 1944, by Robert F. Sargent, a chief photographer's mate in the United States Coast Guard. It depicts U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division soldiers disembarking from a LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase at Omaha Beach during the Normandy Landings in World War II.[1]


The photograph was taken by Chief Photographer's Mate Robert Sargent during the troop landing phase of Operation Neptune, the naval component of the Operation Overlord Normandy landing commonly known as D-Day. Neptune was the largest combat operation performed by the United States Coast Guard in American history.[2]

The Higgins Boat depicted in the photograph had departed from the attack transport USS Samuel Chase about 10 miles (8.7 nmi; 16 km) from the coast of Normandy at around 5:30 AM. Waves continuously broke over the boat's square bow, and the soldiers inside were drenched in cold ocean water.[2]

The photograph was taken at 7:40 AM local time. It depicts the soldiers departing the Higgins boat and wading through waist-deep water towards the "Easy Red" sector of Omaha Beach.[2] In all the Chase lost six landing crafts that day; four foundered near the beach, one was “impaled” by a beach obstacle, and another sunk by enemy gunfire.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The image was one of the most widely reproduced photographs of the D-Day landings. The original photograph is stored by the United States Coast Guard Historian's Office.[2]

The iconic image was evoked in the 1998 Hollywood film Saving Private Ryan,[3] and appears on the cover of Stanley Lombardo's 1997 English translation of the Iliad as a symbol of the universality of war.[4]

Origin of the phrase[edit]

The phrase "into the jaws of Death" in the photograph's title comes from a refrain in The Charge of the Light Brigade, an 1854 narrative poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson about the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.[5]


  1. ^ Price, Scott T. "U.S. Coast Guard at Normandy". U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 3 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Young, Stephanie. "Into the jaws of death: U.S. Coast Guard-manned landing craft at Normandy". United States Coast Guard. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Shields, Mark (August 3, 1998). "'Ryan' recalls a war that was 'good' because it was democratic". The Free Lance–Star. Creators Syndicate. 
  4. ^ Mendelsohn, Daniel (July 20, 1997). "Yo, Achilles". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "The Charge Of The Light Brigade". Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Retrieved February 28, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Into the Jaws of Death at Wikimedia Commons