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KeithnRita

An Early Christmas Present

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My father, who Rita never met, passed away in 1987. The only possession I have of him is a rolled up panorama photo of him and his fellow paratroopers. I had this photo framed a couple years ago. Some of the few details we knew of his past was at age eighteen he was one of the original members of the Screaming Eagles, when the 101st Airborne Division was formed in 1942.

There has been a number of movies and specials about the 101st in WW2--The Longest Day, A Bridge To Far, Battle Of The Bulge, most recently Saving Private Ryan, and the HBO mini-series Band Of Brothers.

He started off in Fort Benning GA to Fort Bragg, NC, where the photo was taken, on to Tennessee, and then to Southern Indiana for war games. This is where he met and married my Mom, before shipping out to England in 1943.

He shaved his head into a mohawk and parachuted behind enemy lines in Normandy the night before D-day. He was dropped right on top of German positions and had to fight his way to cover. One week later after forming up with others in his and other companies, he was wounded while on a scout patrol near St. Lo France and had to be left behind. He was captured and spent the next 30 days in a train box car being transported to Stalag 4B in Germany. He was officially listed as MIA, until the Red Cross got out a letter to my Mom from him about 4 or 5 months later. She notified the War Department that he was a POW. He spent almost a year in prison camp. After the war ended the 101st was disbanded until 1956 when they were reactivated into a division at Fort Campbell, KY, which is about 100 miles south of here.

He seldom talked about his experiences and always wondered if any of his war buddies survived.

With all the information available on the www, I decided to see if I could locate any of the 82 troopers in the photo. The company commander's name and the photographers name and photo number was stenciled in white. That was all I had, however, it was enough! The research lead me to the Trigger Time Forum and I have had contact with a member of his company that even had a picture of him he just sent us. He, like others, thought he had been killed and had no ideal he was taken prisoner and survived the war. He just sent me a list, with name, addresses, and phone numbers of members of my Father's Company F, 502 PIR, who are still alive. I plan on contacting the ones that are in reasonably good health, as most are in their 80s. Remarkable after 60 years. If anyone is interested just click http://p198.ezboard.com/ftriggertimeforumf...icID=3786.topic for the postings on how this all came about, and to view the photo. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

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That's a great story, and the emails are very interesting. I hope that you get everything you need.

Howard

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Amazing! Isn't it fantastic what we can find on the net?

Congratulations with your success in finding the info....

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Very interesting story, Keith and Rita. It's so great that you are corresponding with these people who can provide such info. Thanks for sharing the link , as I enjoyed reading the communications. I hope you are able to get all the info that you'd like to.

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