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THE GREATEST RAID IN HISTORY How the Atlantic Was Won
We have unique core values here at AZCOMP. They mean a lot to us and help us define our mission. One of those values, “We go where Eddie would go,” describes our willingness to do the things that no other company would. For us, going where Eddie would go is all about being passionate and determined for our customers, even when the situation looks insurmountable. The origin of this value comes from the world of surfing. I won’t recount the entire story behind it, but here’s a Sparknotes version. Eddie Aikau is one of the most legendary surfers of all time. In addition to tackling massive waves, he also completed more than 500 rescues on Waimea Bay, one of Hawaii’s most treacherous stretches of surf. His fearlessness and selflessness are the basis for our core values. I may not be much of a surfer, but I am a big history buff. Another example of fighting for what you believe in, even if success seems impossible, comes from one of my favorite battles from World War II. The battle I’m talking about is known as the St. Nazaire Raid, and it’s often regarded as the greatest raid in history. In early 1942, the Nazis still controlled much of the Atlantic. Through their control of France, they were able to establish a strong fleet without needing to pass through liberated Britain to return to Germany. Instead, they relied on the large docks in St. Nazaire, France to refuel and repair their ships. For their largest ships in particular, this dock was absolutely essential. The British forces, despite knowing that the area was heavily fortified and nearly impenetrable, realized that destroying the dock would be a pivotal moment in the war. In January, Louis Mountbatten devised a plan, known as Operation Chariot, to target St. Nazaire. Mountbatten believed that the seeming impossibility of an attack was an advantage for the British. The Nazis would never see it coming.
On March 28, 1942, Operation Chariot was put into motion. The main objective was to crash a boat loaded with delayed-action explosives into the dock, rendering it unusable. To achieve this, the British enlisted 611 troops from the Royal Navy and British Commandos. The boats were disguised as German to avoid early detection. Even with a thorough plan in place, the troops knew they were engaging in an extremely dangerous mission, one that many of them would not make it back from. But that didn’t stop them. When they landed, the British took heavy fire. Nearly all of the ships designated to provide safe passage home were destroyed. Many commandos were stranded, either dying or being taken in as prisoners of war. Of the 611 men that took part in the mission, only 228 returned to Britain. Despite the casualties, the mission was a success and helped push the Allies to victory in the battle for the Atlantic. The ship loaded with explosives managed to ram the dock, the explosives went off, and the British dealt a major blow to Germany naval supremacy in the Atlantic. The dock was rendered unusable for the remainder of the war. The heroes that took part in the raid are an inspiration. Their victory is proof when you’re passionate and determined, nothing is impossible. The world may have doubted that St. Nazaire could be taken, but the troops on the ground believed in their mission. This belief helped bring about the end of the Nazi regime. In short, it made the world a better place. Both of these stories help me recognize that if you’re not willing to push yourself, you’ll never know the limits of what you can achieve. Keep that in mind the next time you face a challenge. –Andrew
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