101st Airborne Division

...."The 101st Airborne Division....has no history,
.............. but it has a rendezvous with destiny...."

......................... Gen William C Lee...-   August 19,1942

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Col Sink - 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Colonel Robert F Sink
CO 506th PIR


Col Robert F Sink

Gen Maxwell D Taylor

Gen Matthew B Ridgway

Lt Gen Lewis H Brereton

506th Parachute Infantry Regiment Crest - (Source: Don Straith)

(above picture)
506th PIR Crest

101st Airborne WW II
Medal of Honor Recipients

  Lt Col Robert G Cole
Pfc Joe E. Mann


USAAF Airborne Troop Carriers in World War II
The Drop Zone
ETO Cross Channel Attack (Hyperwar)
D-Day and Beyond (Memories)
Carentan Historical Center

The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Unit History

506th Parachute Infantry Regiment Patch olonel William C Lee was given command of all airborne units in March 1942. This new organization was designated the Airborne Command and established at Fort Benning GA. Rapidly moving world events accelerated the need for trained airborne units and two more parachute regiments were activated. On 20 July 1942 the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated and Lt Col Robert F Sink was named regimental commander. Lt Col Sink, who had been a member of the original 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion relinquished his command of the 503rd PIR to Lt Col Kenneth Kinsler and immediately began the task of thoroughly conditioning his new recruits. Like many of the Airborne regimental commanders of his day, Col "Bounding Bob" Sink instilled his own unique style of leadership on his troops who took their training camp reviews on the double. Besides setting a world record, this demanding style of training would serve the men well during the war when they were renowned for marching great distances in short periods of time.

Camp Toccoa (CLICK for an aerial view circa 1943)This training took place in Camp Toccoa, Georgia which was adjacent to the Currahee Mountains. Ironically, "Currahee" meant "stand alone" in the local Indian language and the troopers immediately adopted it as their regimental motto since that was their objective behind enemy lines.

( << Click Picture (left) for aerial view of Camp Toccoa circa 1943 << )

Toward the end of November 1942, the 506th PIR was ordered to Fort Benning for parachute training. Upon arrival at Fort Benning, the 506th immediately started their parachute training. They learned to pack their own chutes and to prepare their equipment to be dropped in an airborne operation. Once their advanced airborne training at Fort Benning was completed, the unit moved to Camp Mackall, NC. It was here that extensive tactical training was conducted, including many night jumps.

The 506th PIR was attached to the 101st Airborne Division on 1 June 1943. Later that month the regiment moved west to participate in the Tennessee maneuvers. After participating in the maneuvers, the 506th moved to Fort Bragg, NC until the end of August 1943 when the unit reported to Camp Shanks, NY to prepare to be transported overseas. The 506th crossed the Atlantic on the S.S. Samaria during September, arriving at Liverpool, England, on 15 September 1943.

Aldbourne England - The Square (CLICK to enlarge picture  circa 1943 (Source: Donald Straith))In England, the 506th was stationed in Wiltshire County, with units in such villages as Aldbourne, Ramsbury, Froxfield, and Chilton-Foliat. Here the unit took part in such exercises as "Operations Wadham and Rankin" in preparation for the coming invasion of occupied Europe. June 5, 1944, found the men of the 506th parked by the aircraft that were to carry them into their first combat mission.
( picture above right: The Square in Aldbourne, England circa 1943.(^^ Click Above Picture to Enlarge ^^) (>> Click Here for additional pictures <<) )

Normandy - D-Day
The 506th PIR took off for their first combat jump at 0100hrs, 6 June 1944. In the predawn hours of D-Day a combination of low clouds, and enemy anti-aircraft fire caused the break-up of the troop carrier formations. The scattering of the air armada was such that only nine of the eighty-one planes scheduled to drop their men on the Drop Zone (DZ) found their mark. Consequently, the sporadic jump patterns caused most of the troopers to land far afield of their designated DZ. Some of the sticks landed as far away as 20 miles from the designated area. Only the 3rd Battalion landed in close proximity to their designated DZ. However, the area had long been recognized by the Germans as a likely spot for a parachute assault. The Germans set a strategic trap and in less than 10 minutes managed to kill the battalion commander, Lt Col Wolverton, his executive officer Maj George Grant and a large portion of the battalion. The only part of the battalion that survived were those who were dropped in the wrong DZ. These two planeloads of troopers under the leadership of Capt Charles Shettle managed to accomplish the battalion's objective of capturing the two bridges over the Douve River. The men of the remaining battalions fought valiantly in small groups, and as others joined them, they moved towards their objectives. Just prior to the landing of seaborne forces, the high ground overlooking the beaches was seized and held by the men of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Men of the D Company in Aldebourne, England circa 1944(Courtesy: Riley) On 29 June the 101st was relieved from the VIII Corps and sent to Cherbourg to relieve the 4th Infantry Division. The 506th PIR remained as a First Army reserve until 10 July, when it returned to England for rest and training. At about the same time General Eisenhower called for a headquarters that would oversee the Allies' airborne troops. In August 1944 he established the First Allied Airborne Army, controlling elements of the American and British (and Polish) Armies. The new army was put to the test in September 1944 during the Allied thrust in northern Europe: Operation Market-Garden.
(picture above right: Men of D Company of the 506th PIR in Aldbourne, England circa May 1944. They are (left to right) Kneeling: Pfc John Sherborn (KIA Bastogne), Pfc Gilbert Van Every (DSC), Pvt Jack Sandridge and Cpl Jack E Mattz (KIA Holland); Back Row: Sgt Willis Phillips (KIA Holland), Pvt Benny Niesner, Pfc Jack Miller, Cpl Foster M. Sist and Pvt Frederick Linacre. (^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )

Operation Market Garden
British Field Marshal Montgomery This was an audacious plan concocted by British Field Marshal Montgomery (picture left) that would be the first major daylight air assault attempted by a military power since Germany's attack on Crete. Similar to the Germans assault of four years earlier, the Allies initial plan for September 17,1944 was to use the paratroopers and glidermen of the 82nd and 101st U.S. Airborne Divisions and England's First Airborne Division in a daring daylight drop into Holland. The airborne Allied troops were to seize roads, bridges and the key communication cities of Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem, thus cutting Holland in half and clearing a corridor for British armoured and motorized columns all the way to the German border.

The 101st mission was to secure the fifteen miles of Hell's Highway stretching from Eindhoven north to Veghel. After less than three months in England, the 506th was to make its second combat jump. This time the unit was to land in Holland on DZ B, seize the Wilhemina Canal Bridges at Zon, then move South and take Eindhoven with its four highway bridges over the Dommel River. Shortly after 1315 hours on the afternoon of 17 September 1944, the entire regiment landed on one field, and the unit pushed south to Zon with little difficulty.

Upon arriving at Zon, the 1st Battalion, led by Maj James L LaPrade, found the two bridges had been blown when the leading group was within 50 yards of securing it. Undaunted by this setback, Col Sink ferried his Five-O-Sink troopers across the canal, however, the regiment was a day late in arriving at its objective, Eindhoven. By noon on D plus 1, the Eindhoven bridges were secured, and at 1830 hours, the British were able to move an armored unit into the town. From D-Day until November, 1944, the men of the 506th became familiar with such names as St Oedenrode, Uden, Veghel, Koevering, Nijmegen, Opheusden and Randwijk, as they fought from town to town and repelled every counter-attack the enemy launched. The end of November found the unit at a former French artillery garrison just outside the village of Mourmelon. Here they rested, reorganized and received replacements.

The Ardennes - Battle of the Bulge
On 16 December, 1944, The Germans had launched a major offensive at dawn on 16 December, west through the Ardennes Forest, in the lightly held sector of our VII Corps. At that time Shaef's Reserve consisted of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The 101st was ordered to the vitally important town of Bastogne which was the key to the German counteroffensive.General Hasso von Manteuffel From Bastogne radiated several roads that were essential to the German juggernaut. The 101st was jammed into trucks for an overnight rush to Bastogne in Belgium on Dec. 18th. The defense of Bastogne by the 101st presented a formidable obstacle to the surging Fifth Panzer Army of Hasso von Manteuffel (picture left). In the ensuing days the encircled Currahees and for that matter the entire 101st engaged in vicious fighting. The Screaming Eagles suffered heavy casualties including the Currahees highly regarded 1st Battalion Commander, Lt Col James L LaPrade, as the 506th defended Bastogne on the eastern sector of the circular airhead established by General McAuliffe. Like their "brothers" in the other units the 506th fought with what they had and prayed that the C-47s would get through with the vital supplies necessary to sustain them. Finally, on December 26th Patton's 4th Armor Division broke through the encirclement and the lifting of the siege of Bastogne began.

On 15 January 1945, the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment took the town of Noville, Belgium, a longtime Division objective. Then on the 20th of January, the 506th moved to the Alsace Province of France where Hitler's "Operation Nordwind" offensive, under the personal direction of Heinrich Himmler, was threatening a sector of the Seventh Army front. While holding the line the regiment changed positions several times while also sending out many patrols. Although the enemy continually shelled their positions, the 506th PIR did not conduct any major operations during this time.

On 23 February, the men of the 506th were relieved, and returned to Mourmelon, France. Here General Eisenhower spoke to the 101st Airborne Division when the unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation for its stand at Bastogne. This was the first time in the history of the United States Amy that an entire Division had been so honored.

Men of the 1st Platoon A Company in Taxenbach, Austria circa May 1945 (Courtesy: Don B Straith) As the war in Europe was nearing its end,the 506th moved to the Ruhr Pocket on 2 April to help in mop-up operations. Here the 506th went on the line facing the Rhine River south of Dusseldorf, Germany. On the 4th and 5th of May, the 506th received and carried out its final wartime mission - the capture of Berchtesgaden, Hitler's Eagles Nest.

(picture above right: Men of the 1st Platoon, A Company of the 506th PIR in Taxenbach, Austria circa May 1945. They are (left to right) Kneeling: Pfc D.B. Straith, Cpl C.H. Shoemaker, Cpl E.J. Janssen (partialy hidden), S/Sgt G.G. Janes, Pfc D.L. Cofone and Cpl A. Claeys; Back Row: Pfc C.E. Blankenship, Pfc N.F. Alexander, Sgt R.R. Bruni, S/Sgt V.P. Pasciarelli and Pvt R.V. Runyan. (^^ Click Picture to Enlarge ^^) )
On 8 May, Colonel "Bounding Bob" Sink accepted the surrender of the German LXXXII Corps, commanded by Lt General Theodor Tolsdorf. The 506th established its command post in Zell Am See, where it remained until the end of July, when it moved to Joigny, France. On 30 November 1945 the regiment was deactivated, and its few remaining members were reassigned to other units.

( Sources: " Paratroopers" by Gerard M. Devlin & Joe Beyrle, I Co., 3rd BN, 506th, 1942-1945.)

506th Parachute Infantry Regiment - Pictures  Photos 506th PIR  
  • A Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company A (March 1945)  at Mourmelon-le-Grand, France.  [Standing: 4th from left Sgt Jack Bram; Eugene Heon and Melvin Willard. Crouching: 3 troopers unknown.]  (Photo courtesy of Donald Straith)
  • A Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company A (unknown date/location)  [2nd Row Kneeling: 1st on left Pvt Paul Flachbart; Other troopers unknown.]  (Photo courtesy of Ethan Harding)
  • A Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company A (Date Unknown)  (Photo courtesy of Kevin S Mazur)
  • C Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company C (Before D-Day)  (Photo courtesy of Ken Dryden)
  • D Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company D (Date Unknown)  
  • E Company - 506 PIR - Photo of Sgt D. Malarkey, Sgt Burr Smith & Sgt W "Skip" Muck (KIA) of E Company - 2nd Platoon - the 506th PIR at Ft Benning, GA.  
  • E Company - 506 PIR - Photo of members of E Company - the 506th PIR in the Normandy Hedgerows. Cpl W H Dukeman 2nd from left (KIA-Holland)  (Photo courtesy of Art Hight)
  • E Company - 506 PIR - Photo of members of E Company - the 506th PIR on the LZ in Holland. 1st Lt James H Moore 3rd from left (KIA-Holland)  (Photo courtesy of his son Peter Maidman)
  • E Company - 506 PIR - Photo of members of E Company - 2nd Platoon - the 506th PIR.  
  • G Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company G (Date Unknown)  
  • G Company - 506 PIR - Western Union Telegram - Informing of 1/Sgt Woodrow H Smith's capture.  
  • G Company - 506 PIR - Miscellaneous photos - 1/Sgt Woodrow H Smith.  
  •  I  Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Company I (Date Unknown)     (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Westhuis)
  •  HQ1  Company - 506 PIR - Group Photo of members of the 506th PIR Headquarters Company 1st Battalion (HQ1) 1st Platoon (pre D-Day)     (Photo courtesy of Eric Norman)

R E L A T E D   B O O K S

Alexander, Larry Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers NAL Hardback (April 2005), 320 p. ISBN: 0451215109
Ambrose, Stephen E D-DAY June 6,1944: The Climatic Battle of WW II. 6/93, Simon & Shuster ISBN: 0671673343
Ambrose, Stephen E Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster, (June 2001) 336 p. ISBN: 0-743-21638-5
Ambrose, Stephen E Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945. Simon & Schuster, (Nov 1997) 528 p. ISBN: 0-684-81525-7
Badsey, Stephen & Chandler, David G (Editor)  Arnhem 1944: Operation "Market Garden" (Campaign No.24) 1993 96p. ISBN: 1855323028
Bando, Mark A  Avenging Eagles: Forbidden tales of the 101st Airborne in World War 2. Bando Publishing, (2006) 183 p. ISBN: 0977911705
Bando, Mark A  101st Airborne: The Screaming Eagles at Normandy. Zenith Press, (Apr 2001) 156 p. ISBN: 0760308551
Bando, Mark A  Vanguard of the Crusade: The US 101st Airborne Division in WW II. The Aberjona Press, (June 2003) 320 p. ISBN: 0971765006
Black, Wallace B.& Blashfield, Jean F. Battle of the Bulge (World War II 50th Anniversary Series). Crestwood House, 48 pp May,1993 ISBN: 0896865681
Bowen, Robert Fighting With the Screaming Eagles: With the 101st Airborne from Normandy to Bastogne. Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, (Sept 2001) 256 p. ISBN: 1853674656
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
Burgett, Donald R Currahee!. Presidio Press, (Sept 1999) 256 p. ISBN: 0-891-41681-1
Compton, Lt Lynn (Buck) & Marcus Brotherton Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers . Berkley Hardcover, (May 6, 2008) 288 p. ISBN: 0425219704
D'Este, Carlo  Patton: A Genius for War 1024 pp ISBN: 0060927623
De Trez, Michel  American Warriors: Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers Prior to Normandy  July, 1998, D-Day Pub, 212 p. ISBN: 2960017609
De Trez, Michel  Cpl Forrest Guth: E Company 506 PIR 101st Airborne Division (WW II American Paratroopers Portrait Series)  March, 2002, D-Day Pub, 56 p. ISBN: 296001765X
De Trez, Michel  Orange is the Color of the Day: Pictorial History of the American Paratroopers in the Invasion of Holland April, 2004, D-Day Pub, 506 p. ISBN: 2960017633
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
Devlin, Gerard S  Paratrooper! St Martin's Press, (P) c1976 ISBN: 0312596529
Gabel, Kurt The Making of a Paratrooper: Airborne Training and Combat in World War II Univ Press of Kansas (Jan 1990), 282 p. ISBN: 070060409X
Gardner, Ira & Roger Day Tonight We Die As Men: The untold story of Third Battalion 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment from Toccoa to D-Day. Osprey Press, (April 21, 2009) 344 p. ISBN: 1846033225
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 ISBN: 0718305213
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
Killblane, Richard  Mc Niece, Jake The Filthy Thirteen: From the Dustbowl to Hitler's Eagles Nest: The 101st Airborne's Most Legendary Squad of Combat Paratroopers Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 288 pp May 1, 2003 ISBN: 1932033122
Koskimaki, George E D-Day With The Screaming Eagles Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 356 pp September 11, 2002 ISBN: 1932033025
Koskimaki, George E Hell's Highway: Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in Holland, September-November 1944 Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 453 pp March 1, 2003 ISBN: 193203305X
Koskimaki, George E The Battered Bastards of Bastogne: A Chronicle of the Defense of Bastogne, December 19, 1944 - January 17, 1945 Casemate Publishers and Book Distributors, 484 pp December 1, 2002 ISBN: 1932033068
MacDonald, Charles B  A Time For Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge Wm Morrow & Co (P), 720 p. ISBN: 068151574
Malarkey, Don & Bob Welch Easy Company Soldier: The Legendary Battles of a Sergeant from WW II's "Band of Brothers" . St Martin's Press, (May 13, 2008) 288 p. ISBN: 0312378491
McKenzie, John  On Time, On Target Novato, CA: Presidio, May 15,2000. 304 p. ISBN: 089 141 714 1
McLaughlin, Jerome J D-Day+60 years Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, April 20,2004. 300 p. ISBN: 1418402699
Megallas , James All the Way to Berlin: A Paratrooper at War in Europe 336p., Presidio Press, March, 2003. ISBN: 0891417842
Mehosky, Ivan P The Story of a Soldier. BookSurge, (Aug 2006) 348 pp. ISBN: 1419621491
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
Post, Robyn, Guarnere, William & Heffron, Edward  Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends  Berkley Hardcover, 10/2/2007. 320 p. ISBN: 0425217280
Ryan, Cornelius  A Bridge Too Far 670p. ISBN: 0684803305
Stokes Jr, G G  Camp Toccoa: First Home of the Airborne.: 1942-1944 CreateSpace, 3/14/2011. 28p. ISBN: 1461005868
Webster, David Kenyon Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D- Day and the Fall of the Third Reich 352p. ISBN: 0385336497

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