08-13-2012, 12:23 AM #1
Storied 101st Airborne marks 70th anniversary
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) After months of grueling road marches through the north Georgia mountains, a group of elite paratroopers had to put their training to the test in a trial by fire. They leapt from an airplane, bullets whizzing past parachutes and shrapnel pelting the plane's side panels.
Ed Shames was among them. Now 90, Shames was 19 when he signed up for new parachute units created by military leaders who wanted a quicker, more aggressive unit that could sneak behind enemy lines in Europe. This week, thousands of active-duty soldiers and veterans are gathering at Fort Campbell, Ky., to honor the 101st Airborne Division that was created by the military 70 years ago, even as its current soldiers prepare to leave for Afghanistan.
Military officials at first weren't so sure the 101st "Screaming Eagles" would find success. And the day Shames first saw combat turned out to be one of the most crucial in U.S. history the D-Day invasion of France...........
Shames said the paratroopers were successful in their mission of capturing key bridges to prevent German tanks from reaching the shore as amphibious troops made their landing. But it came at a cost, Page said: The 101st lost about a third of its men in only about six weeks.
The division then went on to suffer more casualties in Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands. Herbert Suerth II joined the Easy Company, whose exploits have been made into books and a TV series, as a replacement soldier right before the division went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge..........
"Ninety-five percent of the troops of the 101st had not even sat in a helicopter before Vietnam, so we had to learn," Pagel said.
Later in 1967, the rest of the division would deploy to Vietnam, where they would remain until 1972. Page said records captured during the war showed the North Vietnamese Army warned troops to be cautious when encountering the "chicken men," referring to the division's bald eagle patch.
Today, the 101st remains the Army's only air assault division.
More at link.....
08-13-2012, 01:10 AM #2Registered User
- Join Date
- Apr 2005
More thanks to you, Reader, for calling our attention to the 101st!
I found the facebook page for the unit and encourage all who are interested to do the same.
Personal note: In my boxes of memories, I have a treasured postcard for just one of these men whom I knew in college and who went thereafter to serve in Nam. It shows his face on a background of sky with helicopters. I knew his service was special at that time and so I certainly kept the card. He was a 1st class individual, 101st after we left the comfort of our college days. Bravo to him and to his legion!