Private Ellis Swanzy known by his friends as “Bo” was KIA on Omaha Beach
Pvt. Ellis Swanzy “Bo” Abney (ASN 34635336) was born on April 10, 1924 in Toccopola, Pontotoc, Mississippi. His father, Fulton Swanzy Abney, and his mother, Beulah Estelle Pickens, were both born and raised in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. His father was a school teacher in northern Mississippi. Ellis was his parent’s youngest child and he had two older sisters, Mary Fulton and Nihla Sherwood “Sherry”.
Ellis was raised in northern Mississippi and graduated high school in Toccopola, Mississippi in 1942. “Bo” as he was affectionately known, was a favorite of both young and old. After graduation he worked briefly in Connecticut where he received his draft card in June 1942. He later returned to Mississippi where he received his induction notice. On June 23, 1943 he enlisted in the Army at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Ellis did his basic and medic training at Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas. He completed his training in November 1943 where he was assigned as a combat medic in HQ Company in the 116th Infantry Regiment. He arrived in Devon, England in December 1943 where the 116th Infantry Regiment was doing amphibious assault training at Woolacombe Beach. In 1944 the 116th Infantry was to lead the assault on the western sector of Omaha Beach while the 16th Infantry would lead the assault on the eastern sector. The regiment and its components continued training using the landing craft, vehicle, personnel.
In early May they participated in Exercise Fabius 1 with with the 29th Infantry Division at Slapton Sands in Devon, England. This was the final rehearsal before D-Day.
At 16:00 on June 5, 1944 the Medical Detachment attached to the 116th Infantry Regiment left Weymouth for the coast of France. At 05:00 on June 6, 1944 the pre-invasion naval and aerial bombardment began. At 08:40 two squads of medics and litter carriers landed on Omaha Beach under heavy enemy fire. They immediately started giving first aid to the men on the beach and evacuating them to a point above the high water mark. The pre-invasion bombing had little impact on reducing the German defenses, nor did it provide many craters on the beach to be used as protection. As he was tending to the wounded, Pvt. Ellis Swanzy Abney was killed by enemy machine gun fire on June 6, 1944.