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3 17 Number 127   2 Sections 264-3200  Clay County's Only Daily Newspaper,
Orange Park, Florida 
Friday, June 15,1990
Clay honors local airborne unit

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 been accomplished. 

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 Tuesday extending thanks and praise

 from 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 area.

   Phillips told Jett the resolution would be presented to Sgt. Maj. Rodney Hall for acceptance to the Camp Blanding Military Museum.

   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 Airborne."

   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.


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