James “Jake” McNiece led a World War II group hours before the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion to destroy bridges to prevent German reinforcements from moving into Normandy. James “Jake” McNiece, the leader of a World War II group that came to be known as the “Dirty Dozen,” died Monday, family members said. He was 93. Funeral arrangements are pending and are under the direction of Trout Funeral Home in Ponca City. Survivors include his wife, Martha, whom he married 59 years ago.
McNiece, a retired Ponca City postal worker, commanded a group of rough men nicknamed “The Filthy 13,” who served as the inspiration for the 1967 movie “The Dirty Dozen.” Hours before the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion, McNiece led 18 paratroopers behind enemy lines to destroy two bridges and control a third to prevent German reinforcements from moving into Normandy and to cut off retreating German troops. Sixteen of his men were killed during the 36-day mission, in which they also cut enemy communications and supply lines.