Col. Louis G. Mendez. Jr.
September 19, 2001
Mendez graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
in the Class of 1940.
At Camp Blanding, Florida he assumed command of the 3rd
Battalion of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment upon their activation
in October 1942.
He forged the men under his command into a combat-ready unit of soldiers
whose esprit de corps would serve them well under the baptism
of fire in Normandy.
On June 6, 1944 (D-Day) he parachuted into France with his Battalion
10 miles behind the German lines.
For thirty-three days without relief Colonel Mendez and his men distinguished
themselves as they pushed back the enemy, thereby sparing the seaborne
landings at Utah and Omaha Beach from further assault. At great cost
in human lives, the largest airborne armada in the history of warfare
helped secure the beaches and guaranteed the break-through onto the
Normandy peninsula. No ground gained by the 508 was ever relinquished.
Colonel Mendez was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for leading
the attack that captured the town of Prétot, France on June 20, 1944.
On September 17, 1944 Colonel Mendez parachuted into Holland in the
Nijmegen sector with his men. Again, the 508 fought valiantly, liberating
many Dutch towns.
The final assault took place in December, 1944 – the Battle of the
Bulge- where Colonel Mendez’s 3rd Battalion distinguished
themselves at Thier- du-Mont Ridge and at Lanzerath.
At war’s end, May 8, 1945 the 508 was assigned to SHAEF Headquarters
in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany were it served as honor guard to General
Colonel Mendez then took over command of the 508 Regiment.