Discharge document for SSgt Thomas A Shrout.
Thomas enlisted at Fort Bliss, El Paso, TX
on 29 Oct 1942.
He served with the HQ Company, 2nd
Battalion with 1 year, 10 months and 8 days overseas.
He was discharged on 13 November 1945 at
Fort Sam Houston, TX.
Thomas A. Shrout Jr.
508 PIR 2BN HQ Co.Thomas A. Shrout Jr.
508 PIR 2BN HQ Co.
My father did not talk about the war
very much and I did not develop an interest in World War II until after
watching Saving Private Ryan. Unfortunately my father died on February 7,
1983 many years before the movie came out. So, I do not have specific
stories to tell regarding Daddy and his war experiences. What information I
have comes from his records and piecing that information together with what
I have read. The information on the 508 PIR web site was very valuable along
with the biographies written by the other “Jumpers”. From reading all the
biographies and articles written by the men of the 508th I can tell that
each man has so much pride and so much honor in being a part of the greatest
fighting team in the history of war fare. Being my father’s son, and having
learned about the history of the 508th, I cannot help personally feeling
this pride and honor.
Daddy was 19 years old when he volunteered in October
1942. He specifically requested to be a part of the 82nd Airborne as he
thought it was the elite of the American Armed Services. He was immediately
was sent to Camp Blanding where about 50% of the candidates processed into
Camp Blanding were selected for the 508th and others were cut during the
rigorous basic training. Once they went to jump school they were ready,
mentally and physically.
Then came D-Day. As the 2nd BN HQ CO was the first
Serial of the 508th to depart and reach drop zone N, I believe my father was
not as scattered as many as the others. There were many good jumps and many
horrible jumps. Some drowned in the flooded waters, some were dropped too
low and sustained broken legs, and some were killed in mid air, or upon
landing. I do not know where daddy was dropped or his experiences the first
days of the war. I do know that while he was fighting somewhere on June 10,
1944, my brother, Thomas A. Shrout III was born back in El Paso, Texas.
He continued the fighting until July 4 where he was
wounded at approximately 0930. This was during the taking of Hill 95. The
battle for Hill 95 was fought with a tired and depleted 508th. They all had
fought for 30 consecutive days without rest or replacements. The 508th took
the hill as well as Hill 131 previously. On the 19th of July daddy was
released from the hospital and he rejoined the regiment at Nottingham
England. Of the 2056 men who jumped with the 508th on D-Day only 918
returned to England.
On September 17, 1944 the 508th was back in combat at Nijmegen and Operation
Market Garden. Unlike the Normandy jump, this jump was very smooth with most
everyone hitting their drop zone. The 508th accomplished all their
objectives. However they paid a price. Of the 2000 men who made the jump
there were around 700 casualties. Around the middle of November the 508th
traveled to Sissone, France to rest and regroup. By this time Daddy was
promoted to Staff Sergeant- Section Leader of the Machine Gun Platoon.
Next came the Battle of the Bulge and the miserable
cold, snow, and slosh. The mobilization was so fast that the soldiers did
not have time to obtain the proper snow gear. As a result some men died due
to the cold. Some soldiers had frostbite. Frozen soldiers were lying in the
roadway. In addition, the Germans put up a strong fight.
After the occupation of Germany, the 508th became Honor
Guards for General Dwight D. Eisenenhower at the SHAEF Headquarters in
Frankfurt, Germany. After that he returned to the United States and was
honorably discharged on November 13, 1945 at Ft.Sam Houston Texas
Except when he was wounded on July 4th he fought in all the battles the
508th was involved in during WWII. He received the Combat Infantryman Badge,
American Theater Campaign Medal, EAME Campaign Metal with 4 Bronze Stars & 1
bronze Arrowhead, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart, Distinguished Unit
Badge, Victory Ribbon, I Service Stripe, 3 Overseas Service Bars, Belgium
Fourragere Degree of Knight 4th Class, and Orange Lanyard of Royal
After the war he went to work for the US Army as a
Procurement Specialist at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama and lived in Huntsville.
He had two additional boys, and one daughter. Fishing, Golf, and Bridge were
his hobbies. Daddy was a fighter and a winner. He survived Jump School,
D-Day, Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge, and Germany. His hardest
battle was Emphysema. It started attacking him ten years before his death.
Slowly but surely it started taking his breath away from him. I was with him
in the hospital on his D-Day. I watched the pulse in his neck slowly stop
beating. I watched him stop breathing. I said, “Breathe for me Dad.” He took
a shallow breath, smiled, and had a peaceful look on his face as he ascended
into the sky.
If anyone with the 508th remembers my father please
correspond with me, George Shrout, at email@example.com