Colonel Roy E. Lindquist
R E L A T E D
B I O S
James M Gavin
Matthew B Ridgway
Gen Omar N. Bradley
George S Patton
508th PIR WW II
of Honor Recipient
Sgt Leonard Funk
R E L A T E D
S I T E S
USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II
The American Experience: D- Day (PBS)
Etat de Lieux
The Drop Zone
Cross Channel Attack (Hyperwar)
Carentan Historical Center
R E L A T E D
R E S O U R C E S
Airborne (CMH) Center for Military History
Battle of the Bulge (CMH)
Distinguished Service Cross Recipients
Cpl Walter J Bednarz
1/Lt John P Foley
1/Sgt Leonard Funk
Sgt Charles A Gushue
S/Sgt Alvin H Henderson
Sgt Lyle K Kumler
1/Lt George D Lamm
Pvt John A Lockwood
Lt Col Louis G Mendez Jr
Pfc Harold L Parris
1/Lt Lloyd L Pollette
Cpl Ernest T Roberts
S/Sgt Frank L Sirovica
Pfc Otto K Zwingman
Silver Star Recipients
(See Rolls of Honor)
Parachute Infantry Regiment
The 508th PIR adopted the Red Devil emblem (right)
and the battle cry "Diablo" when they moved to Fort Benning, Georgia for parachute training during
n 20 October 1942, at Camp Blanding, Florida,
the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated with Major Roy E. Lindquist
(left) in command. The regiment primarily came from the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment
and the 26th Infantry Division. By mid-December, the 508th PIR reached full strength. The next
month the 508th was moved to Camp Mackall, North Carolina, where they trained until December.
On 28 December 1943, the regiment boarded the
U.S. Army Transport James Parker and set out to join the convoy across the Atlantic for the war in
Europe. Twelve days later, on 9 January 1944, the James Parker docked at Belfast, Ireland and
the 508th commenced training throughout Great Britain.
Operation Neptune - D-Day
Operation "Neptune" was an all-important airborne phase of
Overlord, the name given to the massive plan for
D-Day invasion of Europe. The 82nd Airborne was an integral part of Operation Neptune.
Because the 504th PIR ranks had been depleted due to the Italian Campaigns the 507th
and the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiments were attached to the 82nd for this operation.
The 82nd's mission was to destroy vital German supply bridges and capture causeways
leading inland across the flooded areas behind the Normandy beaches where seaborne forces would
land to gain control of roads and communications. More than 10,000 All-Americans landed by parachute
and glider on June 6, 1944 - D-Day - as part of
the greatest airborne assault in history.
The 508th was responsible for the Southwest portion of the 82d Airborne Division sector
in Normandy.Their primary targets were bridges over the Douve River, located at Brienville and
Beuzeville-la-Bastille. Clouds and heavy anti-aircraft fire caused the formations to break
up and many of the planes to stray off course. The confusion was also compounded by the Wehrmarcht's
presence in the scheduled drop zones. This prevented the pathfinders from marking them and
consequently delayed many pilots from flashing the jump lights until they had overshot the drop
zones as they frantically searched for the markers. Consequently, both the 507th and 508th troopers were
widely scattered over the Normandy countryside.
Landing in the swamp lands along the river the heavily laden troopers hurriedly scrambled to
assemble into fighting units. Because of the confusion they were unable to muster their forces
into enough strength to occupy the west bank of the Douve River in force. Instead the troopers
assembled along the embankment of the main railroad from Cherbourg to Carentan, both because it was
high ground and because it was a recognizable terrain feature. After regrouping into small units,
the 508th began executing their daunting task to seize the bridge over the Douve River, at
Pont L' Abbe.
However, one unit under the command of Lt.Col Thomas J.B.Shanley, (pictured right [Photo is a still frame from 8mm movie shot by Capt William Nation, Rgt S-1 508th PIR])
commanding officer of the 2d Battalion, encountered a large contingent of German infantry
(Battalion strength) before reaching the town. The Germans were pushing eastward in this area most of
the day under orders to counterattack and wipe out the American insertion west of the Merderet. Lt.
Col. Shanley immediately realized that they were vastly out numbered, and withdrew to Hill 30. He
ordered his unit to dig in. For two days, he and his men fought off repeated German attempts to overrun
the main paratrooper landings and contributed substantially to establishing the Merderet bridgehead.
This action has been considered decisive in helping the airborne meet its objectives at Normandy.
Cited for their bravery during this action were CPL Ernest T. Roberts,
PVT Otto K. Zwingman, and PVT John A. Lockwood. They observed the formation of a German counterattack
by an estimated battalion of infantry with tank support while on outpost duty in a building at
Haut Gueutteville. Remaining at their posts these troopers held off the enemy attack for two hours
allowing the main body of Lt Col Shanley's force to establish an all-around defense at Hill 30.
The 508th continued their ferocious fight as infantrymen for 33 days after landing at
Normandy. They had choked off reinforcements for the Axis forces defending the French coast.
On 13 July 1944, the Red Devils returned to England after suffering 1,061 casualties out of 2,056
paratroopers of which 307 were Killed-In-Action (KIA). Included among the KIA was Lt.Col Batcheller,
(pictured left) commanding officer of the 1st Battalion. For the remainder of WW II the 508th would remain
attached to the 82nd Airborne Division.
Operation Market Garden
On 9 September 1944 Field-Marshal Montgomery proposed a plan,
called Operation Market Garden, to secure a bridgegehead across the Rhine. The operation
called for a combined armor and airborne assault to seize and hold key bridges and roads deep behind
German lines in Holland. The airborne phase of the operation consisted of capturing five bridges
ahead of the armored force. The 504th now back at full strength rejoined the 82nd, while the 507th went to the 17th
At approximately 1330 hours on 17 September 1944, the Red Devils jumped into Holland
as part of Operation Market Garden. Although initial resistance was light, heavy fighting ensued for
On September 18, 1SG Leonard A. Funk, Jr., led elements of Co. C in a fierce counterattack
to clear the LZ of attacking Wehrmacht infantry and anti-aircraft artillery to allow the landing of
reinforcing gliderborne troopers and artillery of the 319th, 320th and 456th FA Battalions.
For his actions, 1SG Funk received the Distinguished Service Cross.
The 508th established and maintained a defensive position along the main line of resistance
which measured over twelve thousand yards in length against heavy German resistance.
The regiment then seized Bridge #10 and prevented its destruction by destroying the apparatus for the
demolition of the Nijmegen Bridge across the Waal River. This action contributed to the successful
completion of the 82nd Airborne's mission.
Meanwhile, the regiment also seized, occupied, and defended the Berg EN Dalkamp Hill mass
terrain which controlled the Groesbeek-Nijmegen area. They cut Highway K, preventing the movement of
enemy reserves, or escape of enemy along this important international route.
Finally, the regiment withstood and repulsed the major enemy efforts at Wyler and Beek
to penetrate the Division position and assault units to the north. While accomplishing these missions,
the regiment captured 483 prisoners. During this period of combat the regiment suffered 139 KIA,
479 WIA, and 178 MIA. No Red Devils were captured by the enemy.
(picture above right: Men of the 508th PIR socialize at the NCO Club at Camp Sissone, France. (left to right): (3) unidentified troopers, (fourth from left) M/Sgt James B Smylie, Hq Co., (2) additional unidentified troopers.
On November 10, the 508th was relieved by a British Brigade. They immediately retuned
to Nijmegen and eventually to Camp Sissone, France on November 14th.
(>> Click Here for additional pictures <<)
(^^ Click above Picture to Enlarge ^^) )
Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
On 16 December 1944 the entire 82nd Airborne was thrust into Ardennes
Forest in the largest battle of World War II - Battle of the Bulge
The Germans smashed through the thin US screen in the Ardennes. SHAEF
reserve forces were alerted. The 101st Airborne was sent into Bastogne to try
and hold the southern shoulder of the penetration while the 82d was
ordered to Werbomont to pinch in the northern shoulder.
On December the 18th the 508th moved and by the 19th had set up positions in the vicinity
of Chevron. The regiment held positions against the Germans until the 24th at which time they were
ordered to withdraw to establish a new line of resistance. The regiment held it position until
January 3, 1945 when the 82nd Airborne Division counterattack.
On January 7th the Red Devil's launched an attack with the 504th in the vicinity of
Thier-du-Mont where it suffered heavy casualties. Again, the regiment was withdrawn from the line and
placed in reserve until January 21st when it replaced elements of the 2d Infantry Division.
On January 24th the regiment was placed in Corp reserve, but was quickly back in action on
On January 29, 1945
First Sergeant Leonard Funk, Jr., (pictured right receiving CMH from
President Truman) of Braddock Township, Pennsylvania, Company C, 508th Parachute
Infantry Regiment received the Medal of Honor (CMH) for action at Holzheim, Belgium. After
leading his unit and capturing 80 Germans, the enemy, by means of a ruse, captured the four American
guards, freed the prisoners and prepared to attack the understrength Americans. Funk, walking around
a building into their midst, had a machine pistol thrust into his stomach by a German
officer. Pretending to comply with a surrender demand, he slowly unslung
his Thompson submachine gun and with lightning fast motion, riddled the
officer and led his men in resisting the enemy, killing 21 in the process.
On February 22, The Regiment moved back to Camp Sissonne where it became
part of SHAEF reserve. The regiment performed maintenance, trained and refitted.
On April 5 the regiment was relieved from attachment to the 82d Airborne Division and
placed under the direct control of First Allied Airborne Army. The regiment moved to Chartres with
a contingency mission to liberate POW camps in Germany by airborne assault if the situation demanded.
The 508th remained at Chartres until late May, 1945. After a brief stay at Sissonne, the
508th was moved to Frankfort-Am-Main for occupation duty and served as guard to General Eisenhower's
SHAEF Headquarters. In December 1945, LTC Otho E. Holmes assumed command of the regiment.
508th Parachute Infantry Regiment - Pictures
- 508 - HQ2 Company
- Photos of Private C.H.Ellis of the 508th PIR Hq 2nd Battalion.
- 508 - HQ3 Company
- Photos of M/Sgt Robert W (Bobby) Carter Jr of the 508th PIR Hq 3rd Battalion.
- 508 - RHQ Company
- Photos of members of the 508th PIR in Frankfurt, Germany circa July, 1945.
Janet Smylie Hart)
- 508 - RHQ Company
- Photo of of the 508th PIR RHQ Communication Platoon taken in Wollaton Park, near Nottingham England prior to the Normandy invasion. (
(left to right) - First Row Sitting: M/Sgt James B Smylie, Pfc Repman, Pfc Whithers, T/5 Wheaton, 2/Lt Tracy, M/Sgt Kenny, W.O.Allen, Pfc Dente, Pfc Anderson, T/5 Jordy, T/4Moran, and S/Sgt Osgood. - Second Row Kneeling: Pfc Stritt, Pfc Rome, Pfc Carsoiz, T/5 Swindely, Pvt Harmon, Pvt Thomas, T/5 Drenen, T/4 Kaisser, T/5 Buck, Pfc Schmelick, T/5 Teall, T/5 Bittzel, Pfc Duffy and Pvt Jones.) - Third Row Standing: Pfc F.S.Janke, Harry Evans, T/5 John P Sweet, Fay Graham, T/4 Earnest Hubbard, Pvt Frank Sakowski, Pfc Wayne H Newmark, Pvt G. L. Stephens, Pvt H. S. Rompala, Pfc W. A. Still, Pvt Jack Richardson and Pvt William McKinnon.) (Photo courtesy of John L. West & Frank Sakowski)
- 508 - RHQ Company
- Postcard of Cpl Robert G Mangers - POW - from Stalag 13C.
Greg Yamada for Mr. R G Mangers)
R E L A T E D B O O K S
Ambrose, Stephen E D-DAY June 6,1944:
The Climatic Battle of WW II. 6/93, Simon & Shuster ISBN: 0671673343
Badsey , Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)
Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993
96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Black, Wallace B.& Blashfield, Jean F. Battle of the Bulge
(World War II 50th Anniversary Series). Crestwood House, 48 pp May,1993 ISBN: 0896865681
Blair, Jr, Clay Ridgway's Paratroopers:
The American Airborne in WW II. New York: Doubleday, 1985 588 p. ISBN: 0385278888
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American
Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Breuer, William B Drop Zone Sicily:
Allied Airborne Strike,July 1943. Novato, CA: Presidio, c1983. 212 p. ISBN: 089 141 1968
Burns, Dwayne T & Leland Burns Jump Into the Valley of the Shadow: The War Memories of Dwayne Burns Communications Sergeant - 508th PIR. Casemate, (Sept 2006) 256 p. ISBN: 1932033491
Decision in Normandy William S Konnecky Assc(P), 560 p. ISBN: 1568522606
Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
De Trez, Michel
At the Point of No Return : Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers in the
Invasion of Normandy 7/98, D-Day Pub, 200 p. ISBN: 2960017617
Falerios, Kenton J.
Give Me Something I Can't Do: The History of the 82nd Military Police Company, WW 1 to Iraq
Nov 2007, Authorhouse, 192 p ISBN: 1434337197
Francois, Dominique 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment: Red Devils Heimdal (Aug 2003), 120 p. ISBN: 2840481723
Gavin, James M.
On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Giard, Régis & Frédéric Blais Helmets of the ETO: A Historical & Technical Guide Histoire & Collections (Jan 2008), 216 p. ISBN: 2352500621
Golden, Lewis Echoes From Arnhem Penguin
Jakeway, Don Paratroopers Do or Die!
ASIN: B0031HBGC0 1996
MacDonald, Charles B A Time For
Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co
(P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
Nigl, Dr Alfred J & Charles A Nigl
Silent Wings - Savage Death Santa Ana, CA: Graphic Publishing, Dec 3,2007. 288 p. ISBN: 1882824318
Nordyke , Phil All American All the Way: Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II Zenith Press, April 2005. 880 pgs ISBN: 0760322015
We Wore Jump Boots and Baggy Pants Willow House, 1977. 118 p. ISBN: 0912450150
Combat Jump: The Young Men who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July, 1943
HarperCollins, 10/21/2003. 388 p. ISBN: 0060088753
Ryan, Cornelius The Longest Day
Touchstone Books (P), 350 p. ISBN: 0671890913
A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Tucker, William H.
Parachute Soldier: From the Diary of William H. Tucker, 1942-1945 ISBN:1884540015
Tucker, William H.
"Rendez-vous at Rochelinval" Battle of the Bulge International Airborne Books,Harwichport, MS, ISBN:0-9647683-2-1
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd
Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007
The Center of Military History The War in the Mediterranean: A WWII Pictorial History Brasseys, Inc.,
465 p. ISBN:1574881302