Father Ranger

Saturday, June 6, AD 2009

Monsignor Joseph R. Lacy

The men of the 5th Ranger Battalion could barely keep from laughing when they first saw their chaplain, Lieutenant Joe Lacy, a week before D-Day.  These were young men, in peak physical condition.  Father Joe Lacy was old by Ranger standards, knocking on 40, overweight by at least 30 pounds, wearing thick glasses and short, 5 foot, six inches.  He was described by one Ranger as “a small, fat old Irishman.”  No way would he be able to keep up when they  invaded France.

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6 Responses to Father Ranger

  • Later Monsignor Joe Lacy was a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford CT. I believe he is mentioned in “The Longest Day.” Until this article, I did not know that he had received the Distinguished Service Cross. I do not doubt that few in our diocese did.

  • I am President of 5th Rangers Reenacted, a historical reenactment group that portrays 5th Rangers at various public events. I am privileged to portray Fr. Lacy.

    When Fr. Lacy reported to the Rangers a few days before D-Day, the commander of the Rangers looked at him and said, “Padre, you’re old and you’re fat. You’ll never keep up with us.”

    Fr. Lacy looked at him and replied, “You don’t worry about about that, I’ll do my job. You tell me where you’ll be at the end of the day and I’ll be there.”

    I have been fortunate to visit Omaha Beach twice and walk the area these brave men contested on June 6, 1944. Every man who landed there was a hero, some of their deeds were recognized, many are only marked by a simple marble Roman cross.

    The following is the citation for his Distinguished Service Cross.

    First United States Army
    APO 230

    General orders No. 28
    20 June 1944

    Section I–Award of Distinguished Service Cross–Under the provisions of AR 600-45, 22 September 1943, and pursuant to authority contained in paragraph 30, Section I, Circular No. 32, Hq ETOUSA, 20 March 1944, as amended, the Distinguished Service Cross is awarded to the following officers and enlisted men:

    E * X * T * R * A * C * T

    First Lieutenant Joseph R. LACY, 0525094, Chaplain Corps, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 6 June 1944 at *******, France. In the invasion of France, Chaplain LACY landed on the beach with one of the leading assault units. Numerous casualties had been inflicted by the heavy rifle, mortar, artillery and rocket fire of the enemy. With complete disregard for his own safety, he moved about the beach, continually exposed to enemy fire, and assisted wounded men from the water’s edge to the comparative safety of a nearby seawall, and at the same time inspired the men to a similar disregard for the enemy fire. Chaplain LACY’s heroic and dauntless action is in keeping wit the highest traditions of the service. Entered military service from Connecticut.

  • Thank you for the info Ed! Men like Chaplain Lacy and the other Rangers who landed on the beach that day are torches who light the way for the rest of us.

  • I have read this article with great interest as like Ed Lane I belong to a Rangers Reenactment group- this time based in the UK. I am just beginning to resarch Fr Lacy with a view to portryaing him this side of the Pond. I find his story inspiring as I spent several years studying for the priesthood.

    I would like to ensure that the bravery of Fr Lacy and all the chaplains in WW2 is also remebered along with all those young men who gave their lives for our generation

    Fr Ranger- Lead the Way!

  • Indeed Rich! You might like this post on the original Ranger.


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