JEAN H. TRAHIN
Born in Paris, Arkansas 1922 Died in Shalimar, Florida 1998
In the early spring of 1942, Jean, a senior year at
the University of Arkansas, and after four years of ROTC, he joined the
Army as a Lieutenant.
Jean reported to Ft Leavenworth, Kansas, then to Ft. Benning, Georgia
for basic infantry training. Then he volunteered for the paratroopers
and received his training at the Parachute School, Ft. Benning. Jean
said "the four 250 foot jump towers on the training field looked mighty
Wearing new parachute wings, Jean was sent to Camp
Mackall, North Carolina where he participated in advance training with
the 508th Regiment. Side trips for maneuvers were in South Carolina and
Tennessee. He jumped with the famous toilet tissue jump stick made
during the last big regimental jump. A wife spectator wanted to identify
which trooper jumping was her husband. The trooper promised to drop a
roll of toilet tissue to identify himself. The entire plane stick joined
in and many streamers of tissue floated down from the sky. Otherwise
Jean said he "remembered this time for mud, rain, and forced marches of
one month thru real backwoods country."Once his group stopped at a small
house in the woods where the woman fixed fried eggs and biscuits for
them. He paid her generously and mailed the biggest dells he could find
to the two daughters.
Arriving at Camp Shanks, New York, the 508th boarded
the USAT James Parker on Dec. 27, 1943. Uncomfortable days and nights of
four hours sitting for sleep and four hours standing ensued until "The
Red Devils" debarked at Belfast, Northern Ireland on Jan. 8, 1944. Here
he trained until March 11, then again crowded aboard a transport for
Scotland. A train then took him to Nottingham, England for more
training. Here Jean was voted "the favorite Lieutenant in that" he
worked his men the hardest but always worked with them" [quoted by
Then came Normandy. Jean was with the 2nd Battalion
mortar platoon at Baupte, France fighting the Germans. Carrying a 81 mm
mortar tube, the crew assembled the mortar to fire on a German machine
gun. His crew got the Kraut gun with its first round. Those 2nd
Battalion men were good. Lt. Trahin was told he trained his men well.
Reportedly he replied "not so, the sergeant had them already trained
when I came to the platoon." [Quoted from The Devils Tale by Zig
Boroughs]. On that day 17 German tanks were knocked out or captured.
On July 15, Jean waited with the entire Regiment on
Utah Beach for the LRTS to come in on high tide and transport the
Regiment to Southampton for a promised furlough. Left behind were 1161
causalities with 307 of them buried in French soil after "Operation
"Operation Market" began and the "Red Devil" Jean
Trahin with his baggy pants was off to war again. Transported by a C-47
for nearly an hour, he parachuted onto a pasture on the Waal River just
outside Nijmegen, Holland on Sept. 17, 1944. There was a 42 plane
formation for this jump. Jean was on his way to help secure the highway
bridge across the Waal River into Germany. The first night while going
toward the town, Jean and Sergeant Schlemmer crossed a railroad track.
On hearing a train approaching them they dug a shallow fox hole under
trees overlooking the track. The train was a German troop train going
back into Germany. Upon learning that an invasion was imminent, the
Germans stopped the train to join in the battle.
Jean was not with the machine gunners. With his squad
he helped secure the rail and highway bridges over the Maas-Waal Canal.
After the bridge at Nijmegen was taken, Jean, on
November 11 marched 22 miles to the new base Camp Sissonne, France.
Left behind were 469 dead, 1933 wounded and 640
missing Followed was the Ardennes, Belgium Campaign.
Bundled up in the wool clothes of World War 11, Jean
was wet and cold in the most severe winter of 50 years. There was deep
snow, ice, fog and intense cold. He fought many battles in the Battle of
the Bulge and tried to relieve the 101st Airborne trapped at Bastogne.
Jean had frozen feet and infections and was evacuated to a hospital in
He rejoined the Regiment at Frankfort, Germany
designated as General Eisenhower's Headquarters. The 508th Parachute
Infantry was chosen as "elite guard" for the headquarters.
At the war's end, Jean spent a few months at Evian,
France assigned to an R&R hotel on Lake Geneva
Lieutenant Jean Trahin's awards were;
The Silver Star Metal for "gallantry in action." and
the Bronze Star Medal for "heroic conduct and meritorious achievement in
ground operation against the enemy".
He wore the Paratrooper Wings with pride. He wore the
American Campaign Ribbon and The European Campaign Ribbon with 4 service
stars. He had the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Occupation Medal, the
Purple Heart Medal, the World War II Victory Medal.
He wore unit citations of the President Unit Emblem, Distinguished Unit
Badge,the Orange Lanyard, Netherlands Citation ( Militaire Willems Odre,
Degree of Knight of the Fourth Class ) presented by Wilhelmina, Queen of
the Netherlands, the Belgium Citation of the Fourragére,. the French
Citation of the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
Jean died 14 August 1998 and was buried as a Major
General in full Army dress uniform. He lies as a "hero of the nation" in
Arlington Cemetery, Virginia near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The
funeral was conducted with full military honors, drum and fife bands,
rider-less horse and caisson with the flag
draped casket, pulled by four horses, fife and cannon salute, etc. Truly
respectful and impressive. The end.