It was another brisk, sunny November day at Fort Benning. The grass
was still green and growing, particularly around Lawson Field.
Small groups scattered in front of hangers occasionally looked up
toward a lazy transport. The plane banked and then leveled off for a
pass over the field.
There were clouds in the sky but not many. These were on the
horizon far away and few if any, paid much attention to them. "I think they're going to jump now," a private remarked to his
buddy standing beside him. Then he changed his mind with, "Well,
maybe they won't. You can never tell what Those fellows might try
"Sure, I know," the other replied, "I heard a sergeant say
this morning that they were called paratroopers. There's a battalion
of them here but I'll bet they'll never get that many guys to jump
out of an airplane."
But most of them were not talking about the "new bunch of
daredevils, the paratroops."
For one thing, a few days ago President Roosevelt had shattered
all tradition with his election to a third term.
Then the war in Europe wasn't
phony any more, but France had
surrendered and England was on the ropes.
There was something wrong with Army's football team but maybe it was still good enough
to take care of Navy.
The Garand rifle, known at The Infantry School as the M1, still
wasn't as good as the old, proven Springfield as far as many of the
line infantrymen were concerned.
It was 1940.
To the casual observer the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion,
the first T/O jump unit in the U. S. Army, was just like any other
battalion two months out of the reception center. That Is, it was
almost like any other battalion except that this battalion was going
to jump and did about five times as much running, tumbling and
calisthenics as anyone had ever done before at Ft. Benning.
For the most part the plane over Lawson Field was filled with
officers who were organizing the Battalion. All 13 of them had
received about five minutes instruction before emplaning and today
they were going to make the first jump of the 501st.
The third man out of the plane was Colonel Roy E. Lindquist, then
Captain Lindquist. Like the others, he vent through the door
depending on a bulky T-5 assembly and a reserve that covered his
Leading the stick was Maj. Gen. William M. Miley, today
commander of the 17th Airborne Division but then a major and
battalion commander. He was making a full equipment jump and his
first landing wasn't easy, in fact he broke his shoulder.
No one else in the 501st jumped that day. Not because the
commander broke his shoulder, nor because the instructions based
largely on experiments of the Test Platoon were inadequate, but the
plane, an obsolete C-39, was only available for 20 minutes, long
enough to make the one shot flight.
Between that first jump and the 29th he took a short time ago,
Col. Lindquist has checked plenty of canopys [sic] and felt plenty
of prop blast roar past the door. That day in 1940 he was the 501st
Battalion adjutant, but the pioneer work in process then was to
later serve as a guide in the organization of his own unit, the
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Before getting into the Troops, Col. Lindquist had served as
company and staff officer in various infantry units and as an
instructor and member of the board at The Infantry School.
In 1937, seven years after his graduation from West Point, two of
his non-coms of Company B, 29th Infantry were showing the qualities
of leadership and judgment required of parachute officers. Today
both are still with him, Major Royal R. Taylor, executive officer.
Second Battalion, and Captain Woodrow W. Millsaps. commander,
While at The Infantry School, Col. Lindquist drafted Field Manuel
22-5. better known as the IDR or Infantry Drill Regulation. He also
wrote Field Manuel 23-5. or the bible of the M1 rifle, as well as
regulations of formal guard mount.
Why did he join the paratroops? He was coach of the Fort Benning baseball team in 1940 and
General Miley, then a major, was post athletic director. General
Miley was ordered by the War Department to organize the 501st
Battalion and one of the first officers he asked to join was Colonel
Colonel Lindquist was the adjutant and according to the T/O at
that time, a non-jumper. But even in those days jump units didn't
always have what the T/O called for.
For example this first adjutant of the 501st became a qualified
jumper as fast as planes were made available. But it was January
before the plane returned and the first 13 as well as the rest of
the Battalion could get in six jumps, the required number then.
Colonel Lindquist left the 501st in the spring of 1941 to become
S-1 of the Provisional Parachute Group; then in the spring of 1942,
G-1 of Airborne Command at Fort Bragg.
During 1941 other parachute battalions were formed: namely, the
502nd, 503rd and 509th. In the spring of 1942 the 502nd and 503rd
Battalions were expanded to regiments and the 504th, 505th and 507th
The 508th Regiment, which was to be commanded by Colonel Lindquist, was scheduled for activation October 20, 1942.
Like the 501st Regiment, the 508th was formed with personnel
volunteering directly from reception centers. Some 3500 to 4000 were
screened to obtain 2200. This hand-picked group was then given basic
training at Camp Blanding. Florida and then went through jump school.
at Fort Benning as a unit in battalion classes.
From then on the story of Colonel Lindquist, the jumper, and
that of the 508th are parallels. He led the Red Devil regiment from
the maneuver areas of Carolina and Tennessee overseas
into Normandy, Holland and Belgium under colors of the veteran
82nd Airborne Division.
Perhaps the day isn't too far distant when he'll lead the Red
Devils back. For there's a Pittsfield, Maine home and family
waiting for trim too: his wife, Mrs. Alice Lindquist, and two sons,
Roy, Jr. age, 12, and Robert, age 9.
His hobbies are sports, all sports. At West Point he was captain
of the Ice Hockey team and white a yearling, he qualified as one of
the school's legendary diamond heroes by belting a home run as the
Army whipped Navy. 9-7.
Today Colonel Lindquist has not forgotten how to win ball
games—or how to make home runs.