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THINGS THAT I REMEMBER

   Until the afternoon of June 5, 1944 I didn’t know how I was going on the invasion as our demolition section had been split up and no one to command.  Then the “Brass” decided they wanted a bridge demolished near Piceauville.  Henry Stutika, Al Jacksich, Cumer Green and myself were assigned to Lt. Bruce Bell and a squad of riflemen from the 1st Battalion to get the job done.

   After a “Better than Usual” supper (I couldn’t eat) we were called out for free cigarettes.  I got a carton of Old Gold and a carton of Lucky Strike.  Quite some time earlier Lucky Strike had changed their packaging to the present state (Red & White) and when advertising would use the phrase “Lucky Strike Green has gone to war”.  I thought it was a peculiar statement until that right.   This carton of Luckies were in the old familiar green package with the red ball.  It gave me a sense of closeness like I had received something from home.

     Our plane was fully loaded and had a hard job becoming airborne; I was to jump #2 with my demo buddies 3, 4, 5, the riflemen next, then a Sgt. Brewer bringing up the rear.    When the red light came on Lt. Bell and I hooked up first and then pushed an equipment chute with 8 miles of communication wire out the door.  By this time everybody was holding a short static line with both hands because the plane was being bounced around by flak.  I thought the green light would never come on.  It did though and we all tumbled out about four minutes early (by my calculation).  I had my legs drawn up as far into my belly as I could get them because of the tracers coming my way.   If I had ever hit the ground in that position I believe I would have broken every bone in my body.  Luckily I made the only tree landing I had ever made.  I still managed to hit the ground hard enough to sprain my left knee.  The tree then jerked me back into the air about 2 ½ feet.  After cutting myself loose and assembling my gear Lt Bell and I got together.

     While hunting for the rest of the stick, we got into a little skirmish with a few Jerries and Lt. Bell didn’t come away from it.  I never found any more of our stick but Thurs. morn about 7:30 AM I met 7 men from the 307th Engineer Bn.  Later that day we met a patrol who directed us to a farm house where there were other paratroopers including two officers. (None of them were my buddies from the Demo Section).  The officers were a Lt. Lavender from the 1st Bn. (I knew him by sight).  The other officer was also 1st Bn. and I had heard his name but hadn’t remembered his face.  He had his thumb shot off and had lost a lot of blood.   They also had three prisoners here.  A German Paratrooper Sergeant and two middle-aged men in the Wehrmacht uniform.  Patrols were sending in paratroopers by the two’s and three’s until Sunday morn when we left the farmhouse there were 50 of us including a Warrant Officer who was a Glider Pilot. 

     That Sunday morn (the 11th) when we started back to the beachhead we were strung out in single file zig-zagging back and forth going around German patrols and placements we kef t the one officer who had his thumb shot off (I often wondered what became of him). 

     Finally we arrived at a farmhouse and in the distance (500 yds) was the Douve River.  From the farmhouse to the river here wasn’t a sprig of grass over 6” tall and we knew we couldn’t ever cross that in the daylight.   The French in the farmhouse agreed to find boats for us. 

     Defenses were set up as the Germans were within 300 yds of us.  They were shooting with their rifles at the P-47s circling overhead.  There were some men in the barn, some in the house, some men were put in the hedgerow that was an extension of the house and in another then another hedgerow 200 yds away toward the river as the last line of defense.  Everything was quiet and I was picking strawberries near my position (I’ll never forget that the green strawberries were as sweet as the ripe ones but the flavor wasn’t there) and the only noise was when a P-47 would circle over head then there would be about 20 shots from the Germans trying to down it.

     About 3:300 PM all hell broke loose, a lot of firing up the road from the house and barn.  Soon t was all along the hedgerow I was in.  Then all at once bullets started plowing in the ground by my left knee.  Talk about cold chills.  I knew that the Jerries couldn’t shoot from that direction as there were paratroopers backing me up.  Sgt Brewer started swearing then ordered me back to the hedgerow behind us to give them a few choice words and identify ourself.

     The battle went on until about 10 PM (It was still daylight) when they brought up an armored piece with an 88 mounted on it.  They threw 5 rounds into the house and then 5 rounds into the barn.

     Lt Lavender put the white flag out the window of the barn but they shot it off.  The German Paratrooper who had been our prisoner ran out of the barn in all that fire and stopped them.  We were ordered to put all of our personal belongings in our helmets.

     A paratrooper by the name of Dugan spoke fluent German and told us that the German Commander had said “We’re not Russkies, we’re not going to shoot you” which relieved my mind somewhat.

   I don’t know if the bridge was ever blown (I never did see it) but I do know that I lost most of my Lucky Strike cigarettes.

/s/ Carlos W. Ross
Reg. Hq. Co. 508 Prcht. Inf. Reg.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[Jumpmaster notes:]

a.      Pvt Carlos E. Ross was taken prisoner and liberated on 6 Jun 1945 from Stalag 7B Memmingen Bavaria 48-10.  He died in Venice, FL on Feb 9, 1998

1/Lt Leon E. Lavender was taken prisoner and on 31 May 1945 was liberated from Oflag 64 or 21B Schubin (Moved to Usedom) Poland, Altburgund 53-17.  He died on November 9, 1972

b.     SSgt Robert A Brewer is believed to have been the “Sgt Brewer” mentioned above.  Robert is reported to have died on 8 Feb 1945 as a Prisoner of War in Stalag 3C Alt Drewitz Brandenburg, Prussia 52-14

c.        Pvt Cumer Green was KIA on 19 Jun 1944 and now rests in Grace, Idaho

d.       Alexander Jacksich made it through the war and died on Jun 28, 1990 in Forest Grove, OR.  He died on June 28, 1990 in Forest Grove, OR..

e.       Henry J. Stutika was a Cadre member.  He survived the war and died on Oct 29, 2000 in Madison, WI.


[1] The brand's signature dark green pack was changed to white in 1942. In a famous advertising campaign that used the slogan "Lucky Strike Green has gone to war", the company claimed the change was made because the copper used in the green color was needed for World War II. American Tobacco actually used chromium to produce the green ink, and copper to produce the gold-colored trim. A limited supply of each was available, and substitute materials made the package look drab. However, the truth of the matter was that the white package was introduced to modernize the label and to increase the appeal of the package among female smokers; market studies showed that the green package was not found attractive to women, who had become an important consumer of tobacco products. The war effort became a convenient way to make the product more marketable while appearing patriotic at the same time.  [Source Wikipedia]

 

 

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