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Robert Hart, a former paratrooper who jumped as part of the 82nd Airborned [sic] Division on the eve of D-Day, holds patches which, he says, were the only markings allowed [to be] worn on his uniform during missions.

[published in News Messenger, Lincoln, CA, 9 November 1995]

Former Paratrooper Recall

Editor's note: As  tribute to local vets in recognition of Saturday's Veterans Day, News Messenger reporter Jenny Carrick talked with several and asked the to tell their stories of when they were in uniform.  The following represent some of the events these local veterans say best captures their feelings.

Robert Hart
82nd Airborne
World War II

   While World War Ii and all of his memories are 50 years old, Robert Hart van recall most everything he saw and did wile a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne.
   Hart's career began as an instructor for boot camp in Missouri.  But his desire to join the troops overseas landed him in Europe just before D-Day in 1944.
   "I'll never forget that day," said Hart, now 75, "I had just had this incredible feeling of being somewhere I didn't belong."
   In order to understand the life of a paratrooper, Hart said a full description of their uniform and gear

was necessary.
   The men wore little insignia with the exception of an Allied Airborne patch on the sleeve of a drab paratrooper jump suit.
   Their parachute packs were harnessed to their chests.  Each pack contained two parachutes, a 28-foot chute and a 22-foot secondary chute as a back up.
   In addition, the troopers carried grenades, machine guns,  rifles, knives and ammunition.
   "The amount of weight we carried was enormous," Hart said. "When we got on those planes it felt like a ton."
   One reason why paratroopers during World War II were forced to carry so much weaponry was that once they dropped behind enemy lines, they were left essentially on their own. Most units were unable to call for assistance or much backup,
   As the planes swarmed above the coast of France to drop the troops into Normandy, Hart said the dark interiors of the planes were lit up with tracers, flaming bullets, from enemy fire."
   Suddenly things seemed to go wrong and Hart knew he plane had passed the target.
  With an engine on fire and the plane swooping