The first thirty minutes of the movie depicted the carnage that happened on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. There was a real Omaha Beach were American troops made their landing and beachhead. The Higgins boat which transported the troops and landed them on the beaches were accurate. The carnage depicted used the perspective of the infantryman on the beach, which tried to approximate the brutality of the landings. Although many died on the beaches and the landing areas were pre-sighted by the Germans with their guns and artillery, it was not the real battle but merely a depiction of what happened.
The character of Lt. Colonel Anderson, Commanding Officer, 2nd Ranger Battalion, who gave Capt. Miller his order to find Ryan, is fictitious. Miller himself was fictitious and there was no such officer commanding Company C of the 2nd Rangers. However, the actions which Miller performed on Omaha Beach were also documented as having been done by real-life American officers who breached the German defenses.
In the same context that Anderson and Miller were fictitious characters, so to were the rest of the squad which included Sergeant Horvath, Corporal Upham, and Privates Caparzo, Mellish, Reiben, Jackson, Wade and Upham.
In fact, James Ryan, Private, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Divisi ...