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 Media contact:  
 Phillip Rollfing  

Point du Hoc Preservation

Historic Pointe Du Hoc facing
serious erosion, experts say



Texas A&M University researchers said Wednesday that serious erosion problems pose a significant threat to the historic Pointe Du Hoc battle site in Normandy, where one of the most important battles of the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion – and World War II overall — was fought.

The combination of groundwater at the site and constant wave erosion pounding from the English Channel means a large portion of the site potentially could fall into the sea, the researchers said.

Pointe Du Hoc and its 90-foot cliffs were scaled by then-Lt. Col. Earl Rudder and his Rangers during the D-Day invasion, at a high cost. Of the 225 Rangers who participated in trying to scale the cliffs, only 90 lived through the day as the Germans rained down grenades and machine gun fire at the soldiers. Rudder would go on to become president of Texas A&M in 1959 and served until his sudden death in 1970, and many consider him to be the school’s greatest president — it was he who urged women to be allowed to attend the all-male military school; and he also made membership in the Corps of Cadets voluntary.

Texas A&M has led a research team to the site for the past three years, and its efforts have been featured on the History Channel show Battlefield Detectives.

The research team told U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, himself a Texas A&M graduate, that the Pointe Du Hoc site is in serious decay and will only get worse unless major work is done to preserve it. Edwards helped secure $500,000 in federal support to the site in 2005 and another $300,000 this year.

“In my opinion, this is one of the most important sites of the 20th century,” said Richard Burt, assistant professor of construction science and member of the research team.

“World War II is the major event of the 20th century, the D-Day invasion was the most important event of the war and Pointe Du Hoc was likely the most important battle of D-Day. The heroism that was displayed there on that day was just incredible. Gen. Omar Bradley later said it was probably the most dangerous mission he’d ever seen.

“There are memorials to Americans and Germans who died there,” Burt added. “Two U.S. presidents delivered keynote speeches at Pointe Du Hoc during the 40th and 50th anniversaries of the battle. The battleship Texas pounded the area with shelling during the invasion and Earl Rudder led his Rangers up the cliffs to secure the area. So it has great meaning to Americans, to Texans and especially to Aggies.”

Robert Warden, assistant director for the Center for Heritage and associate professor of architecture, said the site is currently under the supervision of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

“It (the site) has been severely damaged by erosion during the last 60 years,” he said. “Many of the structures there are in danger of collapsing and literally falling into the sea below.”

Edwards, who said he first became interested in Pointe Du Hoc after meeting Rudder’s wife Margaret while he was a student at Texas A&M in the early 1970s, has visited the site several times and said “you simply cannot express the feelings you get there. It sends chills down my spine to think of what Earl Rudder and his Rangers accomplished.

“This has become a passion for me — trying to preserve this site,” Edwards added.

“I also consider it a great privilege. I think the world will one day thank Texas A&M for what it is doing at Pointe Du Hoc. What a tragedy it would be to lose this great site. It embodies the great courage of the American GI.”

Team member Jean Louis Briaud, a Frenchman by birth and now an American citizen and professor of civil engineering at Texas A&M and part of the research team, said, “You can understand what the site means to me as a native of France and now a professor at Texas A&M. It is a special place to me. The erosion there is very serious. The cliffs are being eroded by big storms each winter.

“We have determined that about 10 meters (30 feet) have been lost since the battle, so the erosion is very significant and will not stop.”

Edwards said he is determined to secure more federal funding to preserve the site, but added that “one of the wonders of the Internet age is that people are able to contribute $10 or $25 or so and these dollars can add up. I think if a lot of people hear about this problem, they will want to contribute.”

Warden said the team is planning a return to the site next June.

- The End -

Media contacts:

Robert Warden at (979) 845-7061 or e-mail at

Richard Burt at (979) 845-0994 or e-mail at

Jean Louis Briaud at (979) 845-3795 or e-mail at

Phillip Rollfing at (979) 458-0442 or e-mail

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Pointe Du Hoc site

Section from a site plan drawing of Gun Emplacement 4, by Christine Liu & Alexis Mixon. (scale: 1:50)

A&M Student at Pointe Du Hoc site

A&M students at Pointe Du Hoc site

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