82nd Airborne Division Honors WWII Paratroopers in Normandy
The twin engines of Douglas, C-47 Skytrains cut through the dead of night silence as the aircrafts journey through the sky, across the English Channel. Mission Boston is given the green light at 1:51 a.m. on June 6, 1944 and over 6,000 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers, carried by more than 350 C-47s, jump into the dark of night, beginning their airborne assault. Several miles inland of Utah Beach, jumping into the town of Sainte Mere Eglise, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment would have the most accurate of the D-Day airborne drops, while the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment would have the worst. When the division was finally relieved in Normandy in early July they had already experienced over 5,000 casualties, wounded and missing.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Dodier (front), a weapons squad leader with Co. B., 2nd Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, walks among the tombstones at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Dodier and dozens of other division paratroopers are in Normandy to participate in the 74th D-Day commemoration and ceremonies.
10 photos: Normandy American Cemetery
Photo 1 of 10: Staff Sgt. Kyle Dodier (front), a weapons squad leader with Co. B., 2nd Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, walks among the tombstones at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Dodier and dozens of other division paratroopers are in Normandy to participate in the 74th D-Day commemoration and ceremonies. Download full-resolution version
WWII veteran, George Shankle (front), a radio operator with Co. E., 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and other WWII veterans watch as the All American Choir sings several songs inside the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, 2018 at Normandy, France. Shankle along with the other veterans travel to Normandy yearly to honor the fellow paratroopers that never made it home from WWII and to meet with current paratroopers in an opportunity to share their stories so that they may better know the divisions history.
10 photos: 82nd WWII Veteran George Shankle
Photo 2 of 10: WWII veteran, George Shankle (front), a radio operator with Co. E., 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and other WWII veterans watch as the All American Choir sings several songs inside the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, 2018 at Normandy, France. Shankle along with the other veterans travel to Normandy yearly to honor the fellow paratroopers that never made it home from WWII and to meet with current paratroopers in an opportunity to share their stories so that they may better know the divisions history. Download full-resolution version
A Soldiers Cross on display inside the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial museum on May 31, at Normandy, France. Dozens of division paratroopers toured the site as part of a staff ride while in Normandy to honor the 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers who jumped, fought and died on D-Day and throughout WWII by participating in the 74th D-Day commemoration and ceremonies.
10 photos: Soldiers cross
Photo 3 of 10: A Soldiers Cross on display inside the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial museum on May 31, at Normandy, France. Dozens of division paratroopers toured the site as part of a staff ride while in Normandy to honor the 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers who jumped, fought and died on D-Day and throughout WWII by participating in the 74th D-Day commemoration and ceremonies. Download full-resolution version
WWII veteran, George Shankle (left), a radio operator with Co. E., 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, talks to Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Granger (center), a platoon sergeant with 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., and 1st Lt. Evan Smith (right), the personnel office officer-in-charge for 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., inside the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, 2018 at Normandy, France. Shankle shared personal stories from his time in Normandy during WWII.
10 photos: Passing on stories
Photo 4 of 10: WWII veteran, George Shankle (left), a radio operator with Co. E., 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, talks to Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Granger (center), a platoon sergeant with 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., and 1st Lt. Evan Smith (right), the personnel office officer-in-charge for 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., inside the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, 2018 at Normandy, France. Shankle shared personal stories from his time in Normandy during WWII. Download full-resolution version
Staff Sgt. Mavis Bradford, an 82nd Airborne Division choir member, spends a solemn moment at a paratroopers grave at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Bradford and dozens of other division paratroopers will honor the paratrooper fore fathers of the division by participating in the D-Day commemoration and ceremonies.
10 photos: Solemn Moment
Photo 5 of 10: Staff Sgt. Mavis Bradford, an 82nd Airborne Division choir member, spends a solemn moment at a paratroopers grave at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Bradford and dozens of other division paratroopers will honor the paratrooper fore fathers of the division by participating in the D-Day commemoration and ceremonies. Download full-resolution version
Col. (ret) Keith Nightingale (center), a former 82nd Airborne Division battalion commander and paratrooper, recounts historical facts to current 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Nightengale toured the paratroopers to Omaha Beach and recounted the D-Day invasion to the group.
10 photos: Omaha Beach
Photo 6 of 10: Col. (ret) Keith Nightingale (center), a former 82nd Airborne Division battalion commander and paratrooper, recounts historical facts to current 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Nightengale toured the paratroopers to Omaha Beach and recounted the D-Day invasion to the group. Download full-resolution version
82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and Soldiers of other units, that fought during WWII, march to the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, at Normandy, France. Local Families hosted the paratroopers for dinner to show their appreciation for the paratroopers and servicemembers that fought back the Nazis during WWII.
10 photos: Marching Down the Avenue
Photo 7 of 10: 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and Soldiers of other units, that fought during WWII, march to the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, at Normandy, France. Local Families hosted the paratroopers for dinner to show their appreciation for the paratroopers and servicemembers that fought back the Nazis during WWII. Download full-resolution version
The Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2018 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The more than 1,500 names inscribed on the walls are for the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers that lost their lives during World War II and D-Day, and have not yet been recovered or identified. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)
10 photos: Walls of the Missing
Photo 8 of 10: The Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2018 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The more than 1,500 names inscribed on the walls are for the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers that lost their lives during World War II and D-Day, and have not yet been recovered or identified. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace) Download full-resolution version
The reflecting pool in front of the Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2018 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The more than 1,500 names inscribed on the walls are for the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers that lost their lives during World War II and D-Day, and have not yet been recovered or identified. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)
10 photos: Reflecting Pool
Photo 9 of 10: The reflecting pool in front of the Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2018 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The more than 1,500 names inscribed on the walls are for the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers that lost their lives during World War II and D-Day, and have not yet been recovered or identified. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace) Download full-resolution version
The tombstone of U.S. Army Pvt. Warren G. Smith, right, a paratrooper assigned to the 319th Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28, 2018, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. More than 9,000 graves are dedicated to the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers who lost their lives during World War II, many of them on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)
10 photos: Fallen Paratrooper
Photo 10 of 10: The tombstone of U.S. Army Pvt. Warren G. Smith, right, a paratrooper assigned to the 319th Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28, 2018, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. More than 9,000 graves are dedicated to the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers who lost their lives during World War II, many of them on D-Day, June 6, 1944. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace) Download full-resolution version
Staff Sgt. Kyle Dodier (front), a weapons squad leader with Co. B., 2nd Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, walks among the tombstones at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Dodier and dozens of other division paratroopers are in Normandy to participate in the 74th D-Day commemoration and ceremonies.
WWII veteran, George Shankle (front), a radio operator with Co. E., 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, and other WWII veterans watch as the All American Choir sings several songs inside the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, 2018 at Normandy, France. Shankle along with the other veterans travel to Normandy yearly to honor the fellow paratroopers that never made it home from WWII and to meet with current paratroopers in an opportunity to share their stories so that they may better know the divisions history.
A Soldiers Cross on display inside the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial museum on May 31, at Normandy, France. Dozens of division paratroopers toured the site as part of a staff ride while in Normandy to honor the 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers who jumped, fought and died on D-Day and throughout WWII by participating in the 74th D-Day commemoration and ceremonies.
WWII veteran, George Shankle (left), a radio operator with Co. E., 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, talks to Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Granger (center), a platoon sergeant with 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., and 1st Lt. Evan Smith (right), the personnel office officer-in-charge for 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1BCT, 82nd Abn. Div., inside the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, 2018 at Normandy, France. Shankle shared personal stories from his time in Normandy during WWII.
Staff Sgt. Mavis Bradford, an 82nd Airborne Division choir member, spends a solemn moment at a paratroopers grave at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Bradford and dozens of other division paratroopers will honor the paratrooper fore fathers of the division by participating in the D-Day commemoration and ceremonies.
Col. (ret) Keith Nightingale (center), a former 82nd Airborne Division battalion commander and paratrooper, recounts historical facts to current 82nd Abn. Div. paratroopers during a staff ride on May 31, at Normandy, France. Nightengale toured the paratroopers to Omaha Beach and recounted the D-Day invasion to the group.
82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and Soldiers of other units, that fought during WWII, march to the Sainte Mere Eglise town hall on May 31, at Normandy, France. Local Families hosted the paratroopers for dinner to show their appreciation for the paratroopers and servicemembers that fought back the Nazis during WWII.
The Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2018 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The more than 1,500 names inscribed on the walls are for the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers that lost their lives during World War II and D-Day, and have not yet been recovered or identified. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)
The reflecting pool in front of the Walls of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28 (Memorial Day), 2018 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. The more than 1,500 names inscribed on the walls are for the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers that lost their lives during World War II and D-Day, and have not yet been recovered or identified. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)
The tombstone of U.S. Army Pvt. Warren G. Smith, right, a paratrooper assigned to the 319th Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial on May 28, 2018, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. More than 9,000 graves are dedicated to the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers and other servicemembers who lost their lives during World War II, many of them on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wallace)

The twin engines of Douglas, C-47 Skytrains cut through the dead of night silence as the aircrafts journey through the sky, across the English Channel.

Mission Boston is given the green light at 1:51 a.m. on June 6, 1944 and over 6,000 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers, carried by more than 350 C-47s, jump into the dark of night, beginning their airborne assault. Several miles inland of Utah Beach, jumping into the town of Sainte Mere Eglise, the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment would have the most accurate of the D-Day airborne drops, while the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment would have the worst.

When the division was finally relieved in Normandy in early July they had already experienced over 5,000 casualties, wounded and missing.

More than 50 paratroopers from across the 82nd Abn. Div. were selected to participate in the 74th Normandy D-Day commemoration and ceremonies May 30-June 7, 2018 in Normandy, France.

First time attendee for the D-Day events, Sgt. 1st Class Kevon Campbell, an instructor and evaluator with the 82nd Airborne Division and U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School, said he feels honored to be selected to represent his unit for such an important mission. “When it comes to the commemoration its equally as important as anything else because the moment that its forgotten, their sacrifices will be in vain,” said Campbell. “They are part of our history and linage; their deeds and heroic sacrifices shouldn’t be left to fade away.” “It’s good to come out, represent our unit, represent the paratroopers so that the families can see it,” he added.

Separate from the division, but attending on behalf of the Gavin family, Chloe Gavin, youngest daughter of Lt. Gen. James M. Gavin, 82nd Airborne Division commander during WWII. Gavin said she loves watching the division paratroopers in Normandy participating in the D-Day commemoration. “My dad absolutely enjoyed his troopers and he would be so pleased to know that they were continuing to come here,” said Gavin. “What his troopers did is sort of the history for the young troopers now and their part of that and sort of in a direct line with him.”

Many of the areas in Normandy are host to monuments and structures dedicated to the paratroopers and Soldiers who fought to liberate the locals. Having the opportunity to visit those sites, Campbell described what it felt like to visit those hallowed grounds. “It’s interesting because a lot hasn’t changed with architecture; it’s held up quit a bit through the years,” said Campbell. “Getting to see what they were fighting through. You can see the terrain and see that it wasn’t easily negotiated.” “Seeing where they landed jumping; it’s not the same level of drop zones that we would normally use,” he added. Walking the areas where her father led division paratroopers like Campbell, Gavin is almost at a loss for words trying to describe her feelings. “It’s hard to imagine now, when you’re here, in this peaceful countryside; to think of what happened,” said Gavin. “I grew up hearing about Normandy so it’s sort of overwhelming and moving to be here.”

Campbell cherishes the opportunity he’s been given and feels it would be beneficial to any paratrooper. “I think it’s good to make it full circle,” said Campbell. “It helps paratroopers, build paratroopers, past, present and future.” “Letting them know where they come from, what was done, by those same units the paratroopers now serve in. It gives them something to look up to and idolize,” he added. Just as the division ensures paratroopers honor and know the legacy of their predecessors, Gavin too ensures her family understands theirs. “I brought my sons over,” said Gavin. “I’m trying to have them learn the history and understand it and I’m delighted that the 82nd stays so in touch with their history.“

Trying to find something?
Search on any term here:
;