17th Airborne Division

....."If everyone is thinking alike,
..........then somebody isnt thinking."

....................................... ......General George S. Patton

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Colonel James W Coutts Comanding Officer 513th PIR

(above picture)
Colonel James W Coutts
Commander 513th PIR

513th PIR WW II
Medal of Honor Recipients

S/Sgt Isadore S Jachman
Pfc Stuart S Stryker

Distinguished Service Cross(DSC) Recipients
1/Lt John W Deam
1/Lt Richard deY Manning
1/Lt Robert Hammerquist

Silver Star Recipients
Pfc Jack Cook
S/Sgt Curtis Gadd
T/4 Harold E Lotze
1/Lt Joseph R Pahle
Pvt William I Thomson
Cpl Frank W Varsame

The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Unit History

he 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) was constituted on 26 December 1942 and assigned to the 13th Airborne Division. It was activated 11 January 1943 at Fort Benning, Georgia and moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina on 1 November 1943 then to Camp Mackall, North Carolina on 15 January 1944. The 513th PIR transferred to the Tennessee Maneuver Area on 4 March 1944 where the regiment was relieved from assignment to the 13th Airborne Division and formally assigned to the 17th Airborne Division on 10 March 1944. The unit immediately relocated to Camp Forrest, Tennessee on 24 March 1944. Staged at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts 13 August 1944. Departed the Boston Port of Embarkation on 20 August 1944.

The 513th PIR arrived in England under the command of Colonel James W Coutts (pictured above left)  513th PIR - Company I - 2nd Platoon (A tough looking bunch of troopers looking forward to going overseas.) who was formerly the assistant commandant of the Fort Benning Parachute School. The regiment was then shuttled to Camp Chisledon, the 17th Airborne Division staging area, on August 28, 1944. Flight and tactical training continued and night maneuvers were added to the training schedule. When Operation Market Garden was initiated, the 17th Airborne was still in training and was held in strategic reserve.

(picture above right: Men of the 2nd Platoon, I Company of the 513th PIR before deploying overseas. (Source: Terrence O'Regan.)
(^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )
Battle of the Bulge - The Ardennes Offensive
Suddenly, on December 16, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which caught the Allies completely by surprise. The 17th was still in England. But the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisons were in Sissones, France and were rushed by truck to contain the bulge in the Allied lines. Between December 17 and 23, the Germans were halted near St. Vith by the 82nd Airborne and Bastogne by a roadblock, defended by the U.S. 7th Armoured Division and the 101st Airborne Division. To help reinforce the siege at Bastogne the entire 17th Airborne Division was finally committed to combat in the European Theater of Operations.

From 23 to 25 December, elements of the Division were flown to the Reims area in France in spectacular night flights then hastily trucked into Belgium. Meanwhile, Patton's Third U.S. Army had finally broken the siege at Bastogne with a marathon thrust from the south. Upon arriving the 513th PIR and the other elements of the 17th Airborne Division were attached to Patton's Third U.S. Army and ordered to immediately close in at Mourmelon. After taking over the defense of the Meuse River sector from Givet to Verdun on 25 December, the 17th moved to Neufchateau, Belgium, then marched through the snow to Morhet, relieving the 28th Infantry Division on 3 January 1945 and establishing a Division Command Post.

In the ensuing days, the 513th PIR would gain their baptism of fire that would have tested the mettle of the most experienced airborne units. General Patton had ordered the 17th Airborne to seize the town of Flamierge where the 11th Armour and the 87th Infantry Divisions had encountered brutal resistance from the Germans. The plan called for two regiments to push forward, the 513th PIR on the right while the 194th GIR under Col James R Pierce would be abreast of the 513th on the left. Almost immediately after the regiments jumped-off they encountered a relentless fusillade of mortars. E company of the 513th PIR 2nd Battalion lost three commanders in consecutive order while struggling forward. Finally, a platoon of F Company under the command of Lt Samuel Calhoun and a platoon of E company under the command of Lt Richard Manning made a fix bayonet charge that routed a superior German force while capturing many of the enemy.

Sgt Isadore S Jachman - Medal of Honor Recipient Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion reached Cochleval but was similarly pinned down by heavy machine-gun and mortar fusillades. When two German tanks broke out of the dense fog and threaten to overrun the 513th's position, S/Sgt Isadore S "Izzy" Jachman (pictured left)  recovered a bazooka from a fallen comrade and single-handedly engaged the two panzers knocking them both out. Unfortunately he was killed in a burst of machine gun fire. For his action on that day S/Sgt Jachman was awared the Medal of Honor. The 513th was hit hard and along with the 17th Airborne's two glider regiments sustained heavy casualties but they galantly achieved their objectives.

The 17th returned to camp at Chalons-sur-Marne in France on 11 February 1945 then back to Belgium on 21 March 1945 to prepare for the air assault across the Rhine.

Operation Varsity - The Airborne Assault on the Rhine
In early February 1945, the tide of battle was such as to enable an accurate estimate as to when and where the 2nd British Army would be ready to force a crossing of the Rhine River. It was determined that the crossing would be in conjunction with an airborne operation by XVIII Airborne Corps.

The sector selected for the assault was in the vicinity of Wesel, just north of the Ruhr, on 24 March 1945. Operation Varsity would be the last full scale airborne drop of World War II and the assignment went to the British 6th Airborne Division and the 17th Airborne Division.

This would be the last full scale airborne operation of the war and the first combat jump for the 513th PIR. As General Eisenhower watched the operation from a church tower on the west side of the Rhine the 513th had the misfortune of flying over a concentration of German antiaircraft weapons. Two-thirds of the C-46's were either damaged or in flames. The pilots remained with the aircrafts until the troopers jumped. However, the 513th landed in the wrong area in the midst of the heavily fortified town of Hamminkeln. Irregardless, the 513th began conducting frontal assaults on the heavily entrenched German positions as British gliders started to land practically on top of them.

513th PIR - Company E - 1st Platoon It was during this fighting that Pfc Stuart S. Stryker seeing his unit's exposed position ran to the front of his unit. He found his platoon leader and platoon sergeant laying dead. Acting on instinct he rallied his fellow paratroopers in a wild rush toward the enemy positions. Just short of the enemy positions he was riddled with machine gun fire and fell dead. However, the remainder of his platoon (pictured right)  overtook the enemy position capturing two hundred Germans and freeing 3 American bomber pilots. For this heroic action Pfc Stryker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

(picture above right: Men of the 1st Platoon, E Company of the 513th PIR after the Battle of the Bulge. They are (left to right) Back Row: Pfc Q.P. Lisenbee, Pfc R.W. Heriford, Sgt T.W. Preston, Pfc S.S. Stryker (MOH), Pvt J.A. Parten, S/Sgt T.J. Haynes,Pvt H.K. Kessler and Pvt Jones; Middle: Pfc Edwards, Pfc D. Rosen, Pvt E.P. Maley, Pfc G.G. Scott and Sgt Crapps; Front: Pfc J.M. Demko, Pvt Chander, Pvt Veluscious and Pfc G.E. Burt. (^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )
By mid-afternoon on 24 March 1945 the 513th had secured all of its objectives including the capture of 1,100 German prisoners. By Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, the 513th was positioned outside of the town of Munster, 50 miles east of the Rhine. The local German commander refused the surrender demands and heavy fighting broke out. It was during this engagement that Col Coutts was wounded by a piece of shrapnel ending the war for him. The war finally ended a month later on 7 May 1945 when General Alfred Jodl signed the unconditional surrender to the Allied powers.

The 513th PIR served in the Army of Occupation of Germany from 20 May - 4 July 1945. The regiment then went to Vittel, France on 15 August 1945. It returned to the United States via the Boston Port of Embarkation on 14 Sepember 1945 and inactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts on the same date.

( Sources: " Paratroopers" by Gerard M. Devlin & "Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII" by William B Breuer)

513th Parachute Infantry Regiment - Pictures  Photos 513th PIR  
  • 513th PIR - A Company - Photo of troopers from the 513th PIR - A Company at Camp Forrest, TN circa June 1944.  
  • 513th PIR - B Company - Photo of troopers from the 513th PIR - B Company at Camp Forrest, TN circa June 1944.  
  • 513th PIR - D Company - Photo of Company D - HQ Platoon, 513th PIR.  ( [Standing: left to right] - Pvt Bill Austin, T/Sgt Charles J Ust {KIA}, Pvt Jack Davis, Pvt Edward S Reider, Pvt Virgil Osteen, Pfc Robert E McClure & Sgt Albert Jacobson.  [Kneeling: left to right] - Cpl W H DeMorgan, Sgt C Markacinis, Cpl Luther Davis Jr, S/Sgt James C DeGidio {KIA}, Pvt Eugene Haas & Pvt Joseph D Disarro.   [Photo courtesy of Curt Gadd] )
  • 513th PIR - H Company - Photo of Company H Platoon Leaders, 513th PIR on the day prior to Operation Varsity in France.  ([left to right] (Lt Ernie Kim (POW) ,unknown, Lt J R Pahle , Lt R E Hammerquist (DSC) and unknown  [Photo courtesy of Doug Pahle])
  • 513th PIR - Photo of Awards Presentations to troopers of the 513th PIR at Chalons-sur Marne France circa Feb/Mar 1945 prior to Operation Varsity.    ([Photo courtesy of Neal Vizina])

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)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Breuer, William B Geronimo! American Paratroopers in WWII. New York: St. Martin Press, 1989 621 p. ISBN: 0-312-03350-8
Breuer, William B Unexplained Mysteries of World War II. John Wiley & Sons, Sept 1998 256 p. ISBN:0471291072
D'Este, Carlo  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
Gabel, Kurt The Making of a Paratrooper: Airborne Training and Combat ig World War II Univ Press of Kansas (Jan 1990), 282 p. ISBN: 070060409X
Gavin, James M.  On to Berlin : Battles of an Airborne Commander, 1943-1946 ISBN: 0670525170
Golden, Lewis Echoes From Arnhem Penguin ISBN: 0718305213
Irwin, Will (Lt. Col [RET.]) The Jedburghs: The Secret History of the Allied Special Forces, France 1944 Sept 6, 2005, PublicAffairs Pub, 323 p. ISBN: 1586483072
Keegan, John The Second World War Penguin (P), 708 p. ISBN: 014011341X
Keegan, John Six Armies in Normandy: From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris Penguin USA(P), 365 p. ISBN: 0140235426
Kershaw, Alex The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of WWII's Most Decorated Platoon Da Capo Press, 288 pp November 30, 2004 ISBN: 0306813041
Kormann, John G  Echoes of a Distant Clarion: Recollections of a Diplomat and Soldier Vellum (P), 520 p. ISBN: 0979448832
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
McKenzie, John  On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
O'Donnell, Patrick K. Beyond Valor  Free Press, 2001, 384 p. ISBN: 0684873842
Ospital, John  We Wore Jump Boots and Baggy Pants Willow House, 1977. 118 p. ISBN: 0912450150
Ruggero, Ed  Combat Jump: The Young Men who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July, 1943  HarperCollins, 10/21/2003. 388 p. ISBN: 0060088753
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Wildman, John B All Americans 82nd Airborne. Meadowlands Militaria, 6/83 ISBN:091 208 1007
Wilson, Robert L. & Phillip K. A Paratrooper's Panoramic View: Training with the 464th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion for Operation Varsity. pps, 244, 11/30/2005, Authorhouse ISBN: 1420854291

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