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Aggies analyze the Pointe du Hoc cliffs to plan preservation of the World War II battle site. Tribute to Rudder’s Rangers One of D-Day’s most important battles occurred at Pointe du Hoc in normandy, France. lt. Col. James earl Rudder ’32 and his men in the 2 nd Ranger Battalion scaled its 30 -meter cliffs to challenge the German defense positions on the Atlantic Wall in 1944. That effort by Rudder, Texas A & M University’s revered president from 1959 to 1970, was crucial to the Allies’ D-Day success. As a result, Pointe du Hoc has become one of normandy’s most popular tourist sites. In 2001 , however, the most significant German bunker on the site — the Observation Post—was closed to the public out of safety concerns due to eroding cliffs below it. The Observa- tion Post serves as the foundation for the national memorial to the 2 nd Ranger Battalion and was the site for Memorial Day speeches by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. In 2006 the American Battle Monuments Commission asked Texas A & M researchers to study the causes of the cliff erosion and recommend mitigation procedures that would allow the Observation Post to reopen. As the director of the Center for Her - itage Conservation in A & M ’s College of Architecture, I was honored to serve on the research team with five other A & M professors and 30 -plus graduate assistants. Between 2006 and 2008 , the team made several trips to France to assess the site and manage the project. Our Pointe du Hoc restoration study included four fundamental components. First, we conducted a structural analysis of the cliffs and 42 T E X A S A & M F O U N D AT I O N bunkers. Then we drilled destructive and nondestructive bore holes to determine geologic formations. Using 3-D resistivity tomography, we could detect groundwater flow and subter- ranean voids. A laser scan of the cliffs, site and bunkers allowed us to create an accurate model of the cliff to determine the depth and position of the caves relative to the Observation Post bunker. T E A M E F F O RT Aggies who studied ways to shore up the World War II battle site Pointe du Hoc: ◊ Dr. James Bradford, Department of History. ◊ Dr. Jean-Louis Briaud, Zachry Department of Civil Engineering. ◊ Dr. Richard Burt ’93 ’00, Department of Construction Science. ◊ Dr. Bruce Dickson, Department of Anthropology. ◊ Dr. Mark Everett, Department of Geology and Geophysics. ◊ Dr. Robert Warden, director of the Center for Heritage Conservation and a professor in the Department of Architecture. ◊ More than 30 graduate research assistants. Our solutions were simple in concept but created practical and philosophical challenges. We recommended that the large caverns at the base be filled with con- crete, applied from the top of the cliff through pressure hoses, to better support cliff loads; we also advocated reinforcing the Observation Post with micro piles—thin stabilizing piers—to ensure stability. We knew nature would take its course, so filling the caves to save the Observation Post would mean constant future maintenance. Was it worth it? The collective answer was yes. After an additional season of gathering more detailed information and working with the American Battle Monuments Commission and French authorities, France’s GTS Group began the stabilization in February 2010 . The $ 6 million project should be complete about the time this magazine rolls off the press. The success of the Pointe du Hoc restoration demonstrates the value of teamwork from academia, professional practice and the federal government. From our important work on this proj- ect, Texas A & M has helped save one of our country’s most significant sym- bols of the sacrifices made in World War II . — b y r o b e r t wa r d e n ’ 8 6 p r o f e s s o r , d e pa r t m e n t of architecture