Colonel Orin D Haugen
511th PIR Crest
511th PIR WW II
of Honor Recipient
Pvt Elmer E Fryar
Pfc Manuel Perez Jr
The 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment
he 511th PIR was activated at Camp
Toccoa, Georgia on January 5, 1943, under the command of LTC Orin D. Haugen. (picture left) He was
promoted to a full Colonel a few months later. The cadre of the 511th PIR were selected
mainly from the 505th PIR which was then stationed in Fort Benning, GA. The Regiment was
formed from about 12,000 recruits, of which about 3,000 were selected to start basic
training. From the latter number around 2,000 troopers formed the Regiment, of which 173
were commissioned and three were warrant officers. (picture right: 511th PIR Patch)
On March 23, 1943, the 511th PIR closed at Camp Mackall, NC to join the
11th Airborne Division, under the command of Major General Joseph M. Swing. Following 17
weeks of Basic training, the 511th journeyed to the Fort Benning Parachute School for three weeks of
jump training. It should be noted, with all the extensive training, no 511th PIR soldier who
boarded a C-47 refused to make the jump.
In December of 1943, the 511th returned to Camp Mackall for
Advanced Training. The success of the Knollwood Maneuvers was very instrumental in the
continued use of Airborne troops during the remainder of World War II. In January of 1944,
the Regiment departed Camp Mackall for Camp Polk, Louisiana to engage in further maneuvers
and prepare for overseas movement.
In April of 1944 the 511th departed Camp Polk for Camp Stoneman, California.
On May 8, 1944, the 511th PIR departed from
Pittsburgh, CA on the SS Sea Pike with about 2,000 troopers that had been disguised as a
"Straight Leg" infantry unit. The ship had been built by the Western Pipe and
Steel Corp. and launched in Feb. 1943. The ship was 492 feet long, with a beam of 70 feet.
She drew 29 feet of water and her steam engines pushed her at 17 knots. On May 28, 1944
the Regiment arrived at Oro Bay, New Guinea.
(picture above right: Men of the 511th PIR, Company G, 2nd Platoon,
(^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )
While the 511th was in Strategic Reserve in New Guinea (May
- October 1944), they conducted Airborne, Jungle and Amphibious training. On Nov. 7, 1944
the Regiment departed New Guinea by ship (USS Cavalier) for the Leyte Campaign in the
Philippines. From November 18 to December 27 the Regiment participated in the Leyte
Campaign in the Abuyog, Dulag, Burauen, Anonang, Manaraawat, Lubi, Mohonag and Anas areas.
The 511th went into reserve in the Dulag area from Dec.
27th to January 21, 1945. From Jan. 22 to Feb. 2, the Regiment prepared for the
forthcoming jump on Tagaytay Ridge and moved to Mindoro by sea and air. On the 3rd of
Feb., the 511th jumped on Tagaytay Ridge, Luzon. From there the Regiment moved to the
Paranaque and the Pasay area and fought in the Ft. McKinley and Alabang area until Feb.
19, 1945. On Feb. 11, 1945 Col. Orin D. Haugen (the Regimental Commander)
(picture left). was mortally
wounded and died of wounds on Feb. 22, 1945. Lt. Col. Edward Lahti, the 3rd Battallion
commander assumed command and remained in command until August 1947.
On Feb. 23, 1945, in an effort to rescue the many prisoners
(2,147) still under Japanese control at the Los Bonas prison, B-511th, plus the light
machine gun platoon from HQ1, made a dawn jump on the prison at 0700 hours. Together with
a simultaneous attack, by a Reconnaissance Platoon and Filipino guerrillas, the prison was
captured. Amtracks (amphibious vehicles from the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion) were
used to transport the prisoners to safety. The plan envisioned the immediate evacuation of
all prisoners and military personnel to the security of the Manila area
(picture right). It was almost a
textbook operation, no fatalities were suffered on the entire mission and all prisoners
( picture above right: Liberation of Manila, Philippine Islands circa 1945.(^^ Click Above Picture to Enlarge ^^) )
The Regiment fought in the Real, Mt Bijiang and Santo Tomas
areas from March 4 to March 24, 1945. From March 24 to April 11, 1945, the Regiment less
the 3rd Battalion, operated in the Bauen and Batangas areas as 6th Army reserve. During
this period, the 3rd Battalion was attached to the 188th PG and fought in the Sulac,
Sapac, Talisay and Malaraya Hill areas. From April 12 to May 4, 1945 the 511th fought in
the Lipa and Mt. Malepunyo area. In May 1945, base camp was set up near Lipa, Luzon. On
June 23, 1945 the 1st Battalion and Companies G and I, boarded troop transports, from the
317th Troop Carrier Group, at Lipa Airstrip and dropped by parachute near Aparri as part
of the Gypsy Task Force. The 511th PIR sustained a total of 289 killed and/or missing in
action causalities during the Leyte and Luzon Campaigns.
(>> Click Here for additional pictures <<)
On August 11, 1945 the Regiment departed Luzon by air and
were flown to Okinawa. On August 30, 1945 the 511th arrived by air, at Atsugi Air Base
near Yokohama to occupy the city and guard the docks from which the peace delegation left
to go to the USS Missouri and the signing of the Armistice. On Sept. 16, 1945 the
511th moved to Morioka, Japan to begin the occupation of Iwate and Aomori Prefectures in
Northern Honshu. The 511th would remain in Japan until 1949.
Source: Leo Kocher (G-511th Airborne))
511th Parachute Infantry Regiment - Pictures
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