(above picture)501st PIR Patch
101st Airborne WW II
of Honor Recipients
Robert G Cole
Joe E. Mann
R E L A T E D
S I T E S
USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II
The Drop Zone
ETO Cross Channel Attack (Hyperwar)
Carentan Historical Center
R E L A T E D
A R T I C L E S
The Decision to Launch Operation Market Garden
Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge
The 501st PIR at Bastogne
The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment
Legion named after killed paratrooper
MILLERSBURG, Ind. — Richard Jacob Hoffman was born Aug. 28, 1921, on a farm east of Millersburg.
By JESSE DAVIS
Goshen News Staff Writer
He graduated from Millersburg High School in 1940 as president of the senior class before entering the Army on Dec. 4, 1942. There he became a part of the Airborne Division, HQ Company 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment.
The 501st PIR had been activated in Toccoa, Ga., in November of 1942, and Camp Toccoa is where Hoffman (picture right), along with the rest of the regiment, were given basic training. Only a small number of the parachute volunteers who made up the regiment were qualified jumpers during this time. The unit then moved to Fort Benning in Georgia for jump school in March of 1943.
Once jump school was finished, the unit was stationed at the Airborne Command at Camp MacKall, N.C. In January 1944, they shipped out aboard the George W. Gothals to their new deployment in England, where they were stationed at a camp near Lambourn. There, the 501st PIR became a permanent attachment of the 101st Airborne Division.
Hoffman jumped as a part of Operation Overlord on D-Day, June 6, but like many other paratroopers was misdropped south of Carentan, France. Misdropped members of the 507th and 501st gathered in the nearby village of Graignes to evaluate their situation and determine what action should be taken. The men chose to stay put and defend the village.
While the soldiers prepared over the following days, villagers helped by collecting equipment bundles that had dropped in the surrounding marshes, as well as the reserve chutes that lay around the area.
On June 10, multiple German patrols were intercepted and several firefights occurred. The following morning brought a 10-minute probing attack during which the soldiers inflicted heavy casualties against the German aggressors. Early that afternoon the village was hit with a bombardment of mortars followed by another larger attack, which was also repelled.
The final attack came that evening, preceded by a carpeting of 88-mm fire on the village. The paratroopers, numbering 182, faced a 10-1 deficit against the roughly 2,000 members of the 17th S.S. Panzer Grenadier Division. After the loss of the commanding officer, the men were ordered to pair off and head for either Carentan or Ste.-Mere-Eglise. In the end, 150 of the 182 troopers managed to escape.
After surrendering on June 12, Hoffman was taken along with other prisoners of war several kilometers south to the hamlet of le Mesnil Angot, where they were killed, most likely by the S.S. troops, although none of the murderers were ever identified, charged or brought to trial. Hoffman had been initially reported as missing on June 8, then confirmed as killed in action in November of that year. His body was eventually brought home in 1948 and buried at Brown Cemetery in Millersburg.
In 1953, several of Hoffman’s friends applied and were approved for a charter for the Richard Hoffman American Legion Post 484 in Millersburg, initially located in one of the members’ basement. It is one of only two posts in the United States named after a paratrooper. Hoffman’s younger brother and only surviving sibling, Phillip “Butch” Hoffman, and his family have remained in contact with the Legion and participate in its activities regularly.
101st Airborne online
The 101st Airborne has a Web site dedicated to World War II veterans. Richard Jacob Hoffman of Millersburg, those he served with and what happened to them can be found at www.ww2-airborne.us/units/501/ 501_trp.html
Published:November 11, 2007 12:06 am Goshen News
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