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Col. Mark J. Alexander

I was initially a member of the 505th P.I.R.

0n June 5th 1944 General Ridgeway transferred me to the 508th as their new Regimental Executive Officer.

After assembly on the airfields we took off in formation towards Normandy. There was a quarter moon, and the occasional cloud.

Standing in the open door of the C.47, I could see thousands of ships below.

We headed southwest to pass northeast of the islands of Guernsey and Jersey, turning back to the southeast to cross the Normandy coast between the French towns of Bricquebec and Saint-Sauveur-Le- Vicomte to jump in the area immediately southwest of Ste-Mere-Eglise.

We were subject to heavy anti-aircraft fire as we came into the vicinity of the two islands.

As we crossed the coast of Normandy, intermittent clouds covered the 1200 foot approach elevation that we were flying. We were to fly lower to an elevation of 800 feet for the jump. Flying in the intermittent clouds caused the formations to begin to disperse, some higher or some lower.

The red warning light came on and I waited for the green jump light as we flew through the clouds.

I landed on a stump in a highly forested area. The stock of my carbine, which was slung across my chest, hit the stump first. The gun sight raked across my face and caused a small gash in my left jaw.

I had landed about 200 feet from a small house and barn.

My jump stick of 18 men rolled back along the line of flight and soon joined me.

Captain Patrick Gibbons, our S2, spoke passable French, and after talking to the French family at the house, we calculated that we were about 2 and a half miles north of Ste-Mere-Eglise and to the northeast of Neuville-Au-Plain.

We [began] rounding up our men and collected all of our equipment.

It was still dark, but with an indication that morning light would soon be upon us, we moved out in column towards Ste-Mere-Eglise where we met Major Kellum with about 40 men who had also dropped north-northwest of Ste-Mere-Eglise and were heading for their 1st Battalion objective on the Merderet River at La Fiere.

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