The nearer we are to the retirement of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regimental Association, the more difficult it is to write these columns. My emotions have run the gamut, but I still feel the timing is spot-on for the retirement.
The retirement of the Association makes sense. I don't know exactly what to compare this to, but in ways what is happening is like those times during World War II when the 508 made the transition from being in active combat to pulling back to regroup (like returning from Normandy to Nottingham after the D-Day invasion and going to Camp Sissonne after the many weeks spent fighting in Holland during Market-Garden).
The men and women of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regimental Association have been on the "front lines" for thirty years now, and it is time to begin pulling back from the "actions" of the past years, rest, and look toward the future. It is a time to look back upon history and see where they have been, enjoy life, share stories, and see what the future holds.
The 508 Parachute Infantry Regimental Association is formally retiring--of that there is no doubt, but formally retiring the Association does not mean the bond that holds the men and women of the Association together is diminishing in strength. On the contrary, it continues to strengthen.
Dick O'Donnell (webmaster of the 508 PIR's website [508pir.org]) and I are committed to keeping the members of the Association in touch and informed about get-togethers, reunions, and trips after the Association is formally retired, and there are many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends who are also dedicated to preserving the history of this fine organization.
We will work together to ensure the members of the 508 PIR Association remained "hooked up, standing at the door, ready to leap into the future."
The 508 PIR on the Today Show
In the late spring this year, I was approached by representatives of NBC's Today Show to do a story about my uncle, Capt. William H. Nation, as part of their coverage of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and, Voila!, on June 4th of this year, while my wife and I were in Normandy, an eight-minute-long story about my uncle was presented on the Today Show.
The balance of the story included excerpts from Uncle Bill's letters as well as clips from his 8mm movies from the war, and I am pleased to report the 508 PIR was mentioned by name.
The producer who put this together, John O'Rourke of Today, and Nancy Ing-Duclos from the Paris office of NBC, were fantastic to work with. They were enthusiastic about the story and very sensitive to my uncle's memory. I hope some of you were fortunate enough to view the story.
The past few months have brought news of the passing of many 508ers, including Betty Clark, wife of Bill Clark (who hosted the 508 reunion in Nashville, TN in 1998); Frank Haddy of D Company; Sally Merritt, wife of current 508 PIR Association President, Kenneth "Rock" Merritt; Dave Nagle, who preceded Rock Merritt as President of the Association; and Jim Yarborough of Service Company. Unfortunately, space does not permit publication in this space of all 508ers who have departed from us. We are grateful for having had the opportunity to have these men and women in our lives. They are greatly missed and will be remembered. [Ed. Note: Obituaries of all Association members can be viewed at
Copyright and all other rights reserved by the Family and Friends
of The 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment Association or by those who are