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Men of the 101st Airborne Division Make the Jump of their Lives

Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: May 28, 2009 
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Picture 1 of 10

Paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division march to the airfield on June 5, 1944, to board the plane that will take them to Normandy, France.

All photos from National Archives.

To read more about the 101st Airborne Division before, during, and after they parachuted into Normandy, click here.

 


22 Responses to “Men of the 101st Airborne Division Make the Jump of their Lives”


  1. 1
    Cheryl says:

    My father jumped in this operation with the 101st. He was to be part of the group destroying bridges. He was separated from his platoon and never saw any of them again during the war. He lost his radio equipment in the jump. After three days, he was captured by Germans and shipped by train to a prisoner of war camp somewhere in central Europe. He was not injured and survived the camp. Days before Allied Forces pushed through, he and some other prisioners escaped from the camp and rejoined the Allies. He lived to be 84 years old. He died on Dec. 26th, 2008. His D-Day experience, like that of so many other men, remained a pivotal point in his life.

  2. 2
    Ramon Reyes says:

    I salute all these men, as well as all the men of Operation Overlord, on this 65th anniversary of D-Day.

    They are truly heroes of our generation and undertook a great crusade to rid the world of tyranny and oppression.

  3. 3
    Norman says:

    I am a US citizen, 80 years of age, but of English origin and when these events were taking place I was just a few days off my 15th birthday, in England, and very much aware of what was taking place just a few short miles away from us. Let me say this – I salute each and every one of those Americans, for what they – and this country – did to help us and the rest of Europe be free of the tyranny of Nazi Germany (and, subsequently, to guard against the Soviet tyranny that would have replaced it, but for America). This world would be a much sorrier and unhappy place were it not for America. Be proud, very proud, of your own country and what it has done for so many people!. You need apologize to no 0ne! Long live the USA!

  4. 4
    Salvatore R LaRosa says:

    God Bless these Band of Brothers. We are losing them everyday. We need more like them. We need these types of men in government and not the feckless twits we have.

  5. 5
    Jan says:

    D-Day 1944 is unquestionably an historically pivotal event, and all honour is due to those men who landed in France, whichever way that might have been, but one has to wonder about a few things:
    That there were cases of ineptitude, cowardice and bad planning is beyond dispute but in the fog of war these things are pretty much inevitable though, sadly, it is more-often-than-not the innocent who pay with their lives and the perpetrators (usually far removed from the shooting!) who get away with it.
    Secondly, it is difficult to imagine the present generation, seemingly mostly comprised of the 'me-me-me', 'self gratification before all else' types rising to the challenges in the same way and with such fortitude. Sorry, but things have changed, and though it is probably unfair to paint everyone with the same brush, the attitudes and mores typically displayed do not engender much hope for the future.

    • 5.1
      Larry C says:

      The "Greatest generation were deployed (if American) up to 4 years, (if Canadian up to 6 years). The present generation has SOME complaining and belly-aching if deployed for one year!

  6. 6
    Doug says:

    Sadly, Jan, I believe you are correct. All of the previous commentators make some very good points and anything I would say simply reinforces what has been said. Norman, what you said needs to be heard by all Americans, over and over! The world would indeed be a completely different place, if it were not for this great country. If the same events happened today, I am not so sure the USofA would rise to the occasion or that the outcome would be the same, for the reasons alluded to by others. A salute to all of those brave people, whom did what they had to do, whether they wanted to or not!

  7. 7
    glen says:

    Jan and Doug,
    It's unfortunate that you and many others propagate the myth that this generation is any different than previous ones. We all tend to paint the past in rosy colors, and the next generation is always "worse than the last" but there are plenty of young patriots ready and willing to stand up and fight for our country today and tomorrow when asked. There are also some hard-working, entrepreneurial and even altruistic individuals left in this nation who are more than capable of carrying on the torch in the economic, social, medical, and legal worlds.

    I'm sure the parents in the 1920s were convinced their kids were all going to hell in a hand basket with their crazy jazz dancing, but they became the "Greatest Generation" … partisan bickering has always been around, but let's not drag ourselves down with useless hand-wringing about how America is going down the tubes. Instead, if you see a problem, fix it instead of complaining!

  8. 8
    Jeremy says:

    Jan and Doug,

    I would like to first agree with Glen.

    Secondly, I am a two time veteran of Iraq and going to Afghanistan soon for my third trip over there. The media does little to show the American people the truth of Iraq and Afghanistan. If you could see the things I have and experienced the things I have, then you would not be so quick to judge this generation. There are plenty of examples of the current generation performing great feats of bravery, courage, rising to the occasion, and conquering their fears to defend what they believe.

    There are always bad seeds in every generation, don't let the media convince you that this generation is so lost and incapable.

  9. 9
    Larry says:

    Jeremy I agree with you to a point. Yes this generation has stepped up to serve their country but in rather small numbers. We no longer have a draft, so I guess this will always be so. I did a tour in Vietnam 69-70 when our troops realized that our country was not trying to win the war, only trying to convince the NVA that they couldn"t win. That was a war of attrition. Media types like the recently passed Walter Cronkite and the Jane Fondas convinced the NVA that they could hold out longer than we could. The north has said after the war that they had actually lost the war after Tet 68 but that the Walter's and Jane's encouraged them to fight on. The VC for all practical purposes was no longer a force that bothered the South Viet Gov. much. The North no longer made it a propaganda ploy, that it was a VC inspired resurection, and sent in more divisions of NVA troops. Remember that the chicken hawks from my generation became Pres. and VP of our nation.
    I wish for your generation that we still had the draft in order for you not to have to make so many tours and be able to spread the burden. In spite of the politians who send you off to war and wrap themselves in the flag that they refused to fight for, you are the ones who keep us free. The Pols get the credit but it's you who do the hard work. At least this time around you aren't being reviled by your own contrymen.
    I'll end with an old joke among many of the troops in Vietnam. Walter and Jane were honorary Cols. in the KGB. Well for all the help they gave the enemy it sure seemed like it to us on the ground. God bless you and if you feel its getting to much by all means seek medical help. America needs citizens like you. We have enough me, me me's already.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    jim says:

    i play 101 in mmy friens back yard we dod-day and all the stuff i salute these men

  12. 12
    Sue Volz ( Snyder) says:

    Our father, Harold K. Snyder was part of the 194th, Operation Varsity, 101st Airbourne. He drove a jeep for Lt Col Joseph Keating & was part of the 681st Glider. My dad is still alive, doing well & we are looking for information.

  13. 13
    Janell Wood says:

    We recently interviewed a veteran who was part of the 101st Airborne Division. What he had to do goes way beyond the call of duty. My cousin and I are putting together a special coffee-table book to honor World War II veterans with the local community. My grandfather was a medic during WW2. The men and women we interviewed are amazing- they just did their jobs- and they were willing to die for our country. I cannot describe how actually sitting down and listening to forty-five different personal stories of WW2 has changed me- but it has. I am so grateful to them and our veterans. Our website is http://www.warandsacrifice.com if anyone out there is interested in honoring WW2 veterans and getting involved.

  14. 14
    judy chiarelli says:

    My father was part of the this operation. Battle of the Bulge, Battle of Normandy, D-Day. He told us kids many stories of the accounts that had taken place. Including training for his mission.
    He survived his missions, and lived until Sept 10, 2001..I am sure if he would've been here the next day, I would've heard what his platoon would've done to Osama Bin Laden.
    God Bless you Dad…miss you

  15. 15
    Ruth says:

    My Grandfather was British and spoke little of the war however he did tell of being in Normandy and of 'the day after' having to help get the dead American soldiers from the trees. He seemed to work with the British, French and American working in the communication field. He never gave any details so perhaps you would know where that could have been so I can try finding more details of him.

  16. 16
    Sue Volz says:

    Thanks Patricia — Hans if you are reading this, please know we are forwarding our information to Patricia and she can forward on to you for your book; and if Lt. Col. Keating's son is reading this — please note, My father has pictures and fond memories of your father, Glider Chalk #134 where he sat next to my dad in the front passenger seat with a major (unknown name) in the back seat, and his well-used binoculiars and more. Your father had nick named
    my dad, Shorty — since your father was a very tall man.

    My father, Harold K. Snyder is now 88 years, still doing well. He was part of the Battle of the Bulge, Jumping the Rhine (also known as, Burb Gun Corner) and many more. He drove the jeep for Lt. Col Keating. We are still looking for more information about his war time duties.

  17. 17
    Sue Volz (Snyder) says:

    I must update my information here – Thanks to Patricia & Bruce, we have now found the unknown major tha tsat in the back seat of the jeep that her father piloted & my father drove the jeep for Col Keating. If you are trying to obtain information on loved ones or good friends this sight does help to locate information. Thankfully I have my father to help guide me through some of the various references. Thanks to all the readers and more.

  18. 18
    Michael Brown says:

    My grandfather, Capt. Donald A. Brown was in the 101st and jumped on D-Day. He told me the story of his miraculous salvation in those first moments. They were planning to jump near a town which they did not know was occupied by the Nazi. The airplane hit turbulence as he and his commander were trying to push a crate of supplies out the door. It pinned them and it took them a moment to get it pushed out the door. This caused their jump zone to be in the fields where it was dark. When my grandfather jumped he could not see where he was going to land. He landed in a pond and sank to the bottom. God saved his life since a gust of wind caught his chute and drug him out of the pond onto dry ground. He then marched through the night gathering a mix of men from different divisions until they were able to rejoin their respective divisions.

  19. 19
    steve g richko says:

    Hi cheryl; my father also jumped on D DAY and was captured and was a member of the 101st airborne, he was in the 326 engineer battalion , iam not sure which company he was in though, i think he was in c company and they jumped with the 501st airborne infantry. my father died in 1989, he was 82 when he died, he joined the army when he was in his early 30,s because all his younger brothers left for the war and he didn't want to be left out. he was a prisoner in camp 9, just maybe theres a chance your father and my father knew each other.

  20. 20
    paul says:

    God bless you and thankyou for your service.



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