A tattered U.S battle flag that led the D-Day landings on Utah Beach will be offered for sale at Heritage Auctions later this month.
The 48-star flag was flown from the stern of U.S. Navy vessel LCC 60, the Landing Craft control boat which lead the beach assault on June 6, 1944, and was retained by its skipper, Lieutenant Howard Vander Beek.
Prior to the assault, on the evening of June 5, Vander Beek had stood on the English shore gazing towards France, when General Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. approached him and said simply "My boy, my life will be in your hands."
Three radar-equipped Landing Craft Control boats were originally set to spearhead the assault at Utah Beach, but just one – LCC 60 – survived the Channel crossing the next day.
Although it hit the beach 500 yards away from its intended landing point, this accidental change in position proved invaluable as it uncovered a soft spot in the German defences. As Roosevelt arrived on shore, he realized this remarkable stroke of good fortune and uttered the now-immortal words "We’ll start the war from right here!"
Vander Beek kept the flag, complete with a bullet hole from a German machine gun, as an emotional memento for the rest of his life, before passing away in 2014.
Now the flag is expected to sell for upwards of $100,000, although previous sales suggest the final price could be much higher.
Back in 2014, on the 70th anniversary of the landings, the flag originally flown from boat LST-493 as it arrived at Gold Beach on June 7, 1944 sold for $385,000.
"This flag is easily one of the most significant artifact of the D-Day invasion that exists in private hands," said Marsha Dixey, a Historical expert and Consignment Director at Heritage Auctions
“D-Day is rightly considered the greatest and most essential victory ever claimed by American armed forces, and is the single event that best represents the United States as the world’s leading force for good.
"We all know the harrowing story of those chaotic dawn hours as America made its push onto the beaches of Normandy. The fact of its survival is nothing less than a testament to the irresistible force of the American will."
Heritage Auctions’ Arms & Armor/Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction takes place in Dallas on Sunday June 12.