Colonel Thomas J. B. Shanley
I recently heard from Chet Graham that Col. Thomas J. B. Shanley died on February 10, 2004 of heart failure and pneumonia at the age of 86 in California.
As most of the readers of this column know, Col. Shanley commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 508 during the invasion of Normandy, Operation Market-Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge. Later, he would become the 508’s Executive Officer. He was the last of the 508’s organic battalion commanders still living/
Just last summer, the crossroads at the center of Hill 30 in Normandy, were named in honor of Col. Shanley and the men who fought alongside him to hold the high ground and the causeway linking Hill 30 with Chef du Pont.
After retiring from the Army, Col. Shanley began a career as a nuclear physicist. He is survived by his wife, Lucille, his children, and many grandchildren.
Book About the 508th PIR
Walter Barrett, a member of “B” Company of the 508 PIR, has written and published a book about his experiences in World War II -- ”My Story: Every Soldier Has a Story.” Walter participated in the invasion of France on D-Day, Operation Market-Garden, and the Battle of the Bulge.
Those interested in ordering copies of “My Story: Every Soldier Has a Story” may contact Mr. Barrett at:
Irish Writer Seeks Help on Book About the 82nd in Portstewart
John McCann, a physics teacher in Ireland, contacted me recently via email concerning his desire to interview veterans of the 507 and 508 PIR’s regarding their experiences in the area in and around Portstewart in the spring of 1944.
When I asked him how he had gotten interested in American paratroopers, he recounted how his grandparents told him stories about “the Yanks” who briefly “invaded” Ireland. Mr. McCann is intent on preserving the history of the interactions between the men of the 507th, 508th, and the people of Ireland.
Those 508ers who would be willing to share their stories with Mr. McCann can either send him an email at email@example.com, or contact me at the address below. John has sent me photos of Portstewart as it appears today, and when compared to images from my uncle’s 8mm movies taken in 1943, little seems to have changed.
Did You Know...
...I, Bill C. Nation, am not a World War II veteran? In fact, I am not a veteran at all. Just to reiterate, I am the nephew and namesake of my uncle, Capt. William H. Nation, who served as Regimental Adjutant (S-1) with the 508 until he was killed in action during the latter stages of the Battle of the Bulge. (Many readers of this column assume I am a member of the original 508 PIR--I was not, but I have heard about the 508th PIR since I was a young boy.)
508 PIR Association 30th Annual Reunion
The year 2004 is upon us, and it is time to register for the 508 PIR Association’s 30th annual (and final) Reunion, which is to be held Sunday, October 17th through Thursday, October 21st, 2004 in Gainesville, Florida. The reunion will be held at the Paramount Hotel, 2900 SW 13th St., Gainesville, Florida 32608. Registration for this reunion will be $70, which is an increase of $5 from the previous reunion. This will help to defray costs associated with rental of busses at a cost of $600 each for the 50-mile trip from Gainesville to Camp Blanding, and it will ensure the 508 PIR Association’s ability to meet its financial obligations.
The retirement ceremony will be held on Tuesday, October 19th at Camp Blanding, and it will be hosted by the staff of Camp Blanding.
For more information about the 30th Annual Reunion and Retirement Ceremony, Contact Ernie Lamson, 508 PIR Association Treasurer, at (651) 699-7366. Also, pass on words of encouragement to Ernie, as he is doing the brunt of the work of organizing this reunion.
Just a Texan who types,
Bill C. Nation
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