When I was a boy me and my buddies played “Army” a lot. One of my crew had a dad who served like my dad, in the Army WWII. He taught us to sing “I Wanna be an Airborne Ranger, live the life of guts and danger, that’s the life of an Airborne Ranger”. Growing older I realized there were more adult versions, but I will not repeat them here (grin). We have Airborne at the Hut, and I’m not talking pathogens. But this is the day when it began.
Today in 1940, after a month of training and experimentation the U.S. Army adopted airborne, or parachute, soldiers. In 1935 the Russians had a head start on Airborne warfare and made the world’s first spectacular use of parachutists. Despite this early entrance upon the Airborne stage the USSR made little use of Airborne troops in World War II. Their activities were principally concerned with the dropping of supplies and individuals for guerrilla activities. However, their prewar example inspired enthusiasm among the Germans, French, and British. The British organized parachute forces in 1936 and used them continually in their maneuvers. The French organized a parachute battalion in 1938 but inactivated it in 1939.
It was left to the Germans to develop and use paratroopers and glider-borne soldiers in mass operations. Their first use was in the sweep across Holland and Belgium, where paratroopers were used to seize key bridges and the powerful Belgian fortress Eben Emael. Their successful tactical use enabled the panzer divisions to sweep across the low countries and made the conquest of France relatively easy. The invasion of Norway saw an even larger use of paratroopers. The invasion was a combined air and sea attack. The British warships wreaked havoc on the German amphibious forces, but the German Airborne troops were successful in establishing several airheads. As soon as these were established, thousands of German soldiers and their supplies were transported by air. As a direct consequence, Norway fell.
The American General Staff had been closely watching the daring use of Airborne soldiers by the Germans. In September 1940 the United States activated its first parachute battalion. Within a short time, Airborne enthusiasts decided that the Airborne soldier provided the tactical commander with a new method of attaining surprise that could very easily revolutionize modern warfare. By the summer of 1944 we had formed five Airborne Divisions and six Airborne Regiments. By the end of World War II, we had used our Airborne troops in fourteen major offensives.
Our next flag event will be Columbus Day October 8th. We will put out flags on Main Street only on Friday October 5, 2018 and pick up on Tuesday October 9, 2018. Will meet at the Legion Hut at 0830 hrs. each time. Don’t forget our regular meetings continue the first and third Thursdays of the month. October 4th and 18th will be the next ones. The 4th will be Chef Sebert’s famous RIBS! 6PM dinner 7 PM meeting. Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings in October are still scheduled for biscuits and gravy and always a cup of Joe (coffee to the civilians) starting at 0800. Just watch the weather, it is the only factor that my change that. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story it may end up in print. Also keep up with us at website “americanlegion142.org”.