By John Dalgle Jr.
Assistant News Editor
HEADQUARTERS 82nd AIRBORNE DIVISION, NORMANDY (By Mail)
— Soldiers of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd
Airborne Division, dropped over a wide area on D-Day and
were unable to assemble as a tactical unit until the fourth
day of the invasion. The regiment, nevertheless, played a
brilliant role in carrying out the mission of the airborne
troops, which was to prevent the Germans from interfering
with the ground assault force until the beach landings had
This is the way America read about how Clay County's own
Airborne regiment the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
which was organized at Camp Blanding in October, 1942, took
part in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6 1944.
Almost 46 years later, the Board of County Commissioners paid
tribute to the 508th Regiment by adopting a resolution
extending thanks and praise
the citizens of Clay County as part of its participation in
"The Year of the Airborne" celebration. BCC Chairman James Jett presented the resolution to Robert
Phillips, 67, a retired member of the 508th Regiment living
in Middleburg. Phillips accepted on behalf of the 13
members of the regiment who still reside in the Clay County
Phillips told Jett the resolution would be presented to Sgt.
Maj. Rodney Hall for acceptance to the Camp Blanding
Jett also presented a resolution stating that Clay County
joins with others in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of
the Airborne and pro claiming 1990 as "The Year of the
Herbert Sellars of Jacksonville accepted the resolution on
behalf of the 82nd Airborne Division Society.
The 508th won the Presidential Unit Citation for heroic
performance in the D-Day Normandy Invasion after suffering
more than 50 percent casualties,
losing approximately 2,200 men.
The unit also participated in the Invasion of Holland and the
Battle of the Bulge, and was chosen as General Dwight D.
Eisenhower's honor guard at the end of World War II.
Retired members of the 508th on hand for the presentation
Tuesday included: Sellars, Phillips, William Tritt of
Keystone Heights, George Ritchote of Orange Park and Carl
Smith of Jacksonville.
An estimated 30,600 Airborne veterans, active duty, Reserve
and National Guard airborne soldiers and their families will
assemble in the Nation's Capital July 3-8 to help celebrate
the 50th Anniversary of the start of Airborne training and
operations by the United States Army in 1940.
Anniversary activities are under the sponsorship of the USA
Airborne 50th Anniversary Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit
group made up of virtually all airborne or airborne-related
associations in the nation.