I was a pathfinder
with the 508th P.I.R. 82nd Airborne Division. I
jumped out of our C.47 Dakota Airplane before midnight on June 5th,
The mission of the
pathfinders was to set up the Eureka panels. These were a canvas
reflecting material and to light the beacons to mark the jump zones of the
main force of paratroopers to follow in a few hours.
I and the others in
the plane jumped west of Ste Mere Eglise and came under fire from German
forces. Tracer rounds could be seen in the night sky and I prayed my
parachute would not catch fire.
I did not have to
worry because I jumped from a height of about 300 feet. It takes about 100
feet for a parachute to open. I looked up at my chute, and when I looked
down I hit the ground.
I landed with a
group of 9 men and officers under steady small arms fire.
While setting up
the drop zone, the Germans threw grenades at our group. I was hit in the
leg by shrapnel from a grenade while fighting off the enemy.
We were surrounded
and I threw my carbine and trench knife in the woods and was taken
prisoner. I was placed in a German truck with other P.O.W.'s north east of
the River Douve, west of Ste Mere Eglise. The Germans were moving east in
a convoy filled with American P.O.W.'s.
Just then, American
fighter planes attacked the convoy. The convoy stopped, and the planes
continued to shoot up the trucks. As the attack continued, everyone began
to hurry out of the trucks. I was the last one out of my truck, and when I
got near the tailgate, I was hit in the right shoulder. I fell to the
ground and sustained a head injury.
After the attack
ceased, the Germans marched us to Stalag 321 in Rennes, France where my
wounds were treated.
After a few weeks
we were forced marched 20 – 30 miles and placed in railroad boxcars.
For a week or two
they were trying to get us to Germany.
fighter planes attacked the boxcars, and I was hit in my right forearm.
The wounded, including myself, were taken to a German hospital in Tours,
While there, the
Germans wanted to amputate my arm. I jumped of the operating table and
told the German doctor, "NO, NO, NO." The attending physician then made a
wire ladder splint and wrapped my arm in white crepe paper.
After a few days we
were marched south for about 600 miles to Touloise, France.
On September 2nd,
1944, I was in a German Hospital and on September 3rd, I and
two other American P.O.W.'s heard gunshots in the hallway outside of the
hospital room we were in. When we opened the door, we saw the French
underground movement had shot the German Guards and threw [them] down the
The P.O.W.'s all
from different countrys were taken to the hospital basement and placed in
3 separate ambulances for transport to a warehouse outside of Toulouse.
On September 4th
we met MI-5, English and American intelligence agents and officers in the
They informed us
that 9 P.O.W.'s on the morning of 5-6 September will be sent by plane and
taken to safety.
On September 6th,
we were awakened at 4.am and taken to a grass field where the French
underground had secured the area from the Germans. They had parked
vehicles with small lights to guide the plane in.
The British Dakota
plane was flown by a British crew. The plane landed safely.
We took off and I
could hear the plane being hit by small arms fire.
A few hours later
we landed in Naples, Italy.
While in the 118th
Station Hospital, I was treated with a fluid diet and vitamins. I weighed
160 pounds when I jumped on D-Day, now 60 days later I weighed only 98
On the forced
march, we were not given any food and little water for 5-6 days. We were
fed black bread, turnips and sugar beets whenever we got it.
The trench knife
that I threw away in the woods was sent to my mother in 1946.
A French citizen
found it with my name etched on the scabbard.