The story begins in June 1998. A man, a former soldier in World War II, visits the cemetery in St. Laurent together with his wife, children and grandchildren. Being there his thoughts go back to the war in Normandy. The story goes back to 1944 during the invasion of Normandy. In the next pages the landing is described with allot of detail. The books follows the group of Captain John H. Miller. Most of his soldiers find death and most of them in a horrible way, but he and some lucky others survive.
The next part is on the 8th of June 1994. We are now in the Pentagon in Washington DC.
Here they sent telegrams to the families of the fallen soldiers. Suddenly Lucy Freemont notice something. There are two soldiers with the surname Ryan and both are from Iowa. An employee hands her a piece of paper. A third Ryan from Iowa was killed in New Guinea. The three were brothers. Then someone remembers that there was a fourth. He got dropped in Normandy as a paratrooper. They order all soldiers to find the fourth private Ryan.
On the 9th June 19947, somewhere in Normandy close to Caen Captain Miller gets called to his supervisor. He and his group get the objective to find private Ryan. His team exists of private Reiben, private Jackson, private Wade (the doctor), Sergeant Horvat or Sarge, private Mellish, private Caprazo and corporal Upham that will be translating English to German.
Their journey leads them to Neuville. In Neuville a French couple offers their children to the soldiers when private Carpazo gets hit by a sniper. Private Jackson kills the enemy sniper before he could make another victim. Carpazo is deadly founded and dies eventually, but before he passes away he gives a letter to private Wade and asks if Wade would send this letter to his parents.
They continue their journey. In the next town they encounter a German Group of soldiers. One of those soldiers can’t hold it any longer and shoots, but his riffle refused so captain Miller and his group use this to their advantage. Not so far from the city they find a group of paratroopers and they ask if they know a private named Jimmy Ryan. After people aking people they find Jimmy Ryan and they tell him that his three brothers died. But Miller soon finds out that it’s the wrong Ryan. They continue their journey while private Ryan wipes his tears away.
Along the way, they find allot of bodies and the groups goes to investigate. Suddenly a shot is fired and the doctor, Wade, collapses . Miller and his men try to save him, but it was too late, their doctor is dead. Then a German soldier appeared. He wants to surrender, but Miller doesn’t want to take him along, so he blindfolds him and Upham tells him that he needs to walk two hundred steps and only then he may remove his blindfold and surrender with the very first American soldier he encounters. The soldier promises and leaves.
Miller and his men had heard during the conversation with the paratroopers that some paratroopers must still be in Ramelle so they go to the city. In Ramelle they are under attack by German soldiers, but another group of Americans fires back, those saved the lives of Miller and his men. One of the privates introduces him: Private James F. Ryan, Peyton, Iowa. Captain Miller is surprised and explains to him why he's here. He explains that all of his three brothers died in combat and that he has to go back to Iowa to his family. Ryan refuses because he has an important mission he wants to finish. He and his group must protect one of the two remaining bridges from the Germans. Miller proposes to help protecting the bridge until reinforcements arrive.
After several hours the German attacks start. Four tanks, two Tigers and two Panzers, followed by the infantry, attack the bridge. There is a fierce battle. Many German soldiers died because they run on a minefield . Millers and Ryan’s group have lost soldiers too. In the fierce battle private Mellish died and mater Captain Miller. Here the story of the invasion ends. The story goes back to the cemetery in St? Laurent in the United States of America. Ryan now 74 sits at the grave of captain Miller, who saved his life, and ask if he has led a good life. After that he says goodbye of the captain.
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