The Ranger Group, attached to the 116th Infantry and commanded by Lt. Col. James E. Rudder, was given the mission to capture Pointe du Hoc and destroy the guns. The Ranger Group was made up of two battalions: the 2d Rangers, under direct command of Col. Rudder, and the 5th Rangers, under Lt. Col. Max F. Schneider. Three companies (D, E, and F) of the 2d Battalion (Task Force A) were to land from the sea at H-Hour and assault the cliff position at Pointe du Hoc. The main Ranger force (5th Battalion and Companies A and B of the 2d, comprising Task Force B) would wait off shore for a signal of success, then land at the Point. The Ranger Group would then move inland, cut the coastal highway connecting Grandcamp and Vierville, and await the arrival of the 116th Infantry from Vierville before pushing west toward Grandcamp and Maisy.
One DUKW was hit and sunk by 20-mm fire from a cliff position near the Point. The nine surviving LCAs came in and managed to land in parallel on a 400-yard front on the east side of Point du Hoc, landing about 0705. Allied naval fire had been lifted since H-Hour, giving the Germans above the cliff time to recover. Scattered small-arms fire and automatic fire from a flanking machine-gun position hammered the LCAs, causing about fifteen casualties as the Rangers debarked on the heavily cratered strip of beach. The grapnel rockets were fired immediately on touchdown. Some of the water-soaked ropes failed to carry over the cliff, but only one craft failed to get at least one grapnel to the edge. In one or two cases, the demountable extension ladders were used. The DUKWs came in but could not get across the cratered beach, and from the water’s edge their extension ladders would not reach the top of the cliff.
Despite all difficulties, the Rangers used the ropes and ladders to scramble up the cliff. The German defenders were shocked by the bombardment and improbable assault, but quickly responded by cutting as many ropes as they could. They rushed to the cliff edge and poured direct rifle and machine gun fire on the Rangers, augmented by grenades tossed down the slope. The Rangers never broke, continuing to climb amidst the fire as Ranger BAR men picked off any exposed Germans. The destroyer USS Satterlee (DD-626) observed the Rangers’ precarious position, closed to 1500 yards and took the cliff top under direct fire from all guns, a considerable assist at a crucial time.
Within ten minutes of the landing the first Americans reached the top of the cliffs.
Four decades later Ronald Reagan described the battle and honored those who fought;