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”The Greatest of the Greatest Generation"

The airborne operations training program consisted of night parachute jumps, unit assembly exercises, and equipment preparation and bundle wrapping techniques for parachuting weapons, ammunitions, radios, wire, medical supplies and assorted equipment required for battlefield operations. 

After several night parachute jumps and extended maneuvers, the regiment was ready for major field exercises and maneuvers.  In May 1943, the regiment maneuvered against 101st Airborne Division troops in South Carolina. It now needed one large-scale field maneuver to qualify for overseas shipment.

The chance to demonstrate its efficiency arrived in September 1943;   the 508th PIR was selected to participate as the aggressor in the Ten-nessee  maneuvers.

After several miserable weeks maneuvering as ground forces, the regiment made a successful night jump that proved its effectiveness, and the 508th PIR proud but tired returned to Camp Mackall. 

In December 1943, the 508th PIR left New York and sailed to Belfast, Ireland. After a few weeks of orientations, weapons firing and small unit exercises, the regiment moved to Nottingham, England and prepared for combat somewhere in Europe. 

Bob Shields participated in all of the 508th PIR’s campaigns and battles that are described briefly in Chapter II, Combat Operation.

·        He parachuted into Normandy June 6, 1944.

·        He parachuted into Holland September 17, 1944.

·        He moved on December 18, 1944 with the 508th PIR to Wer-bomont, Belgium to blunt the German’s last desperate attempt to save the Third Reich. The ensuing campaign was  called the “Battle of the Bulge” the most difficult battle of WW II in Europe.

·        He served with Occupation forces in Germany, commanding se-curity forces and honor guard formations supporting General Ei-senhower’s headquarters.

During his military career, Robert Shields transited from a youth to a seasoned combat leader.  He performed courageously and heroically in a variety of important and decisive combat operations.

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