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Time To Jump - In a photo somehow reminiscent of a scene in Normandy, the 508th ARCT, 2nd Bn. is shown in a field march.
    The undated article recounts the first jump made by an entire 508th battalion since its arrival in July 1955.
   One man, the article reported, was killed after his chute failed to open.  Eleven others were injured, two seriously.
   The two-day field exercise involved the 2nd Bn "in combat" with an aggressor force made up of the 3rd Bn.
  (Article copies courtesy Fritz Blum)

Touted as a jump over the Mori [Japan] DZ
some present-day ARCT Veterans dispute the DZ location (see below)

Bad News Conveyed
BG Teddy Sanford (l) gets a post jujmp briefing from Chaplain (Capt) Joseph Rowan

   Of greatest significance in the above article is the loss of one jumper due to a what was described as a parachute malfunction.  It was learned through Ken Hamblin and Wil Charette, both ARCT members of that era, that the fatality involved a man named Jim Powell and that he was a member of Wil Charette's squad.  An interesting dialogue resulted tht disclosed a number of othe details about the 508th's jumps in Japan.

To: Ken Hamill
Sent: Sunday, March 15, 2009 5:35 PM
Subject: 508 RCT Fatality

Ken -

Attached is a Stars and Stripes article, date unknown, that describes a 2nd Bn. jump at the Mori DZ. The articles states that a man was killed due to a chute failure. Got any idea how we might learn the name of that man?

Sent: Monday, March 16, 2009 2:24 PM
Subject: Fw: 508 RCT Fatality
To: Wil Charette


S&S article attached.

Regards, Ken Hamill

Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:09 PM
To: Ken Hamill
Cc: Dick O'Donnell
Subject: Re: 508 RCT Fatality

His name was Jim MNU [middle initial unknown] Powell. In my 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon "E" Co; also in my stick from a C-119.

His static line somehow got tangled with --(we believe under) his "Griswold" container--containing a BAR. He got hung up behind the C-119 for an instant --(about six of us went by him on exit), then the static line separated at the snap link--a good thing and he went into free fall, but made no attempt to pull his reserve.

Ironically, I have a 8X10 black and white photo taken of him the morning of the jump on the ramp at Ashiya as we were loading by one of the guys in the 2nd plt. Most/all of the guys in "E" Co, signed the photo on the back. We intended to send the photo of Jim, chuted up, to his family, but for whatever reason that did not happen. Many-many years later I was contacted by (unknown) who knew Jim's Sister. I recall mailing a copy of the photo to her. If interested I will rummage through my archives and attempt to locate the photo if one of you want it for 508th archives.


Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 7:46 PM
Subject: Re: 508 RCT Fatality
To: Wil Charette
cc: Ken Hamill

Wil -

Thank you for replying to the request that Ken made on my behalf.

I tried to look in the National Veterans Gravesite Locator for Jim or James Powell but quickly realized that the names are common and I didn't even know for sure what year Mr. Powell was killed.

If you could supply an approximate date and also share the photo that you offered I would greatly appreciate it.



Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 9:52 AM
Subject: Re: 508 RCT Fatality
To: Dick O'Donnell


We arrived in Japan 1955 and returned to the States 1956. The news article in the S&S you sent, states that 3rd Battalion will jump in November. The photo must have been taken in 1955.

Regards, Ken Hamill

March 18, 2009 12:14 PM
Subject: Re: 508 RCT Fatality
To: Dick O'Donnell
cc: Ken Hamill

There is more to the story: I challenge the Stars and Stripes article in that Powell was killed on a jump at one of our "upcountry" drop zones named Jumanji where we jumped and then carried out various tactical maneuvers. We also jumped at Mori (mentioned in the article) DZ located just outside Beppu on Beppu Bay. Mori had an airfield that would accommodate a C-47 and we made our "Hollywood" jumps there for pay purposes etc. Mori was famous for its "honey buckets" the locals used to store their fertilizer and the trick was to miss the honey buckets or suffer the powerful consequences.

Ken: I am not aware of any modifications to the T-10 during our period except for the 5' extension we added to the static line when jumping the C-47. The reason was the five foot extension delayed the breaking of the 80 pound test pack closing tie long enough (5') to ensure the deployment bag that followed, or the deploying chute did not strike the tail of the C-47.

I am looking for the elusive photo. I vividly recall that it is also annotated with the date, place etc. of Powell's death; along with many signatures, presumably yours as well, Ken.


March 18, 2009 12:55 PM
Subject: 508 RCT Fatality
To: Wil Charette
cc: Dick O'Donnell

    I remember Mori as the place where we had mass jumps and where Powell died.  I remember jumping there that day and hearing soon after that Powell had lost his life, but had spoke [a]couple of words to Chaplain Father Rowan before passing on.  

The way I remember it, Mori DZ / Training Area was farther than Jumanji Training Area. Mori was also an Artillery impact area so when we jumped there we were trying to stay away from those places where the artillery rounds may have penetrated and not exploded.  The danger being one leg goes in the hole and the rest of your body gets bent out of shape.  We jumped Mori a few times.  They say the 187 ARCT did not jump Mori on a regular basis - too dangerous. 

The Hollywood jump DZ you remember is Oita Bay DZ over toward Monkey Mountain.  Oita DZ had honey buckets and an old runway on it.  There was a story going around that someone in 3rd Bn put a stick of jumpers from a C-47 into Oita Bay, all got very wet, but all survived. 

I also remember hearing a story that added to Colonel Patterson's mystique - some one at Mori, perhaps on that fateful day, asked Col Patterson "Is it too windy to jump Colonel?"  Our great Colonel responded by taking off his steel pot, holding it at shoulder level, dropping it to determine how far the wind would carry it laterally and answered - "We are good, drop them."

Best Regards,    Ken Hamill 

To: Ken Hamill
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 1:02 PM
Subject: Re: 508 RCT Fatality

You got it right. I forgot about Oita and that is what I had in mind with my Mori story.




Final note: Thus far we have not pinned down the actual date of the ill-fat4ed jump nor have we located a grave site for Jim (James?) Powell.

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