June – 187th/11th Airborne Division

Jump at Aparri, Luzon

With his thoughts still focused on his R&R in Australia, Everett “Smitty” Smith landed back at Lipa City, P.I. only to discover that a mission was scheduled. The last remaining organized Japanese group, the Shabu Forces, were hold up in the northeast corner of Luzon and General Swing had organized the Gypsy Task Force to take them out. On his orders, the unit would include “all Camp MacKall veterans.”

This unique unit would include men from the 187th Infantry, the 511th, the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, a platoon from the 127th Engineers and two platoons from B Company. Despite Gen. Krueger’s disapproval, Lt. Col. Henry Burgess, now 26 years old, would be the commanding officer. (Smitty was at the ancient age of 30, one of the oldest paratroopers besides one other soldier and a few of the officers.) Col. Lahti (31) would be CO for the reserve unit.

Task Force Gypsy, Aparri, Luzon

Col. John Lackey, CO of the 317th Troop Carrier Group, with very little notice, began loading 54 C-47s and 13 C-46s at 0430 hours, 23 June 1945. His plane was the first to leave Lipa airstrip and the constant rumbling of the planes soon became “Vs” in the open skies. Within the transports, every man appeared as a clone to the next. Individuality was lost among the uniforms, bundled parachutes and rucksacks filled to capacity with ammunition, first-aid, water and C-rations.

C-47 Skytrain “Gooney Bird”

Each man stood and checked the chute of the man beside him when the “Gooney Birds” lurched at 0900 hours; the smoke flares from the forward Pathfinders were spotted and green lights flashed for the paratroopers. The stick of men hooked up to the static lines and proceeded to jump into vertical development. With mandatory, disciplined silence, the traditional battle cry, “Geronimo,” is only heard within the imaginative faculty of 1,030 men. All these diverse personalities would react separately to the same experience.

Task Force Gypsy

Each man, for his own reasons, volunteered for the perilous duty that might end his life. Each man went through various stages of development and arrived at the same destination. Each man had been chosen for their good health, general toughness and honor. A jump into combat is reality in its most crystalline form.

As the ground races up to meet the troopers, they see the tall, thick fields of the sharp kunai grass, flooded rice paddies, caribou ruts and bomb craters – all would prove dangerous. The Task Force would lose 7%, two men killed and 70 wounded as they landed in 25 mph winds. The battle-hardened paratroopers collected their flame throwers, howitzers and rifles from the gliders and reassembled with “Espirit de Corps.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – Tomorrow, 7 August 2018 is Purple Heart Day

purple-heart-day-us-holidays1-640x427.jpg

Over 1.8 million awarded to date.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hugh Adams – Portland, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trevor Anstey – Chesterfield, ENG; RAF, WWII

Angel Flight

Gary Bohanick – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Michael Gagliardi – Boca Raton, FL; US Army, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Freeman Hepburn – brn: Bahamas/Port St. Lucie, FL; US Army

Richard B. “Rick” Long Sr. – Seven Lakes, NC; US Army, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

Samuel McAllister – Mt. Vernon, NY; US Army, 75th Ranger Regiment, Sgt. Major, (2) Bronze Stars, KIA

Christopher Nelms – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army (28 y.), Delta Force, Sgt. Major, (2) Silver Stars, KIA

Billy Sapp – Reno, NV; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Kenneth Walser – Mesa, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, B-26 pilot

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 6, 2018, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. Excellent post gp, must admire those paratroopers, a very special breed of man, the video is great, the sight of all those chutes is unique and really illustrates that moment in time.
    Did Smitty ever record his adventures on RaR in Australia ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the video. Thank you for including it!
    When I think about those paratroopers jumping from planes, my acrophobia goes into overdrive. A paratrooper I could not be! Many hat tips to those who are and were!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a treat to read. Never heard of Task Force Gypsy. Never knew there was a BN size parachute jump in the Pacific actually, so thank you for sharing your father’s adventure

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fine written salute to your father and his brothers. You did it up right GP!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What an amazing story, and such a vivid re-creating of the challenge of jumping into a situation like that…incredible courage and guts…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I watched the short video and it was nice way to wrap up the post (actually the airborne Star Wars comic was the best) hah!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What courageous men!
    Dear GP Cox
    thanks for this VERY well written post (as always) full of information we had no idea about. I am so happy that I didn’t experience a war.
    With lots of love to our dear friend from the sunny coast of North Norfolk
    Klausbernd and the rest of The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. What courage they would have needed to make that jump into foreign territory. Your dad was very lucky to survive.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Spannende verhalen van stoere mannen en vrouwen

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sometimes it seems as though the US military has disappeared. I think it has become the UN.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you. Rick Long, Jr.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I wonder how comforting( or how scary) it was for family members to see newsreels like this one. The gliders look really good coming into land.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Amazing, important stories and memories! A great write, and a great tribute, CP!!!
    What brave men and women who jump!

    Oh…I am ever grateful for all of those men and women who earned Purple Hearts!

    (((HUGS)))

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Scary, exciting missions. Thank you for sharing them, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I remember hearing that with paratroopers they are surrounded as soon as they land. It’s certainly not something I would care to try. They must have been very brave men indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are times when an advance team of 2 – 5 will precede them and find the proper landing site, then use flags or flares to direct to troop carrier planes. But I firmly agree with you, they are quite vulnerable coming down like that!!

      Like

  16. Terrific video of the landing. The narrative on this post read like a thriller.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. All caught up now, GP. These are all amazing stories. Keep them coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I take my hat off to paratroopers, so vulnerable at every turn. I had a great uncle who was a para with the Sherwood Forresters who was unfortunately killed after many actions – over Arnhem

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You can’t know until you’ve made the jump. Awesome story.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. William Gindhart

    This this would be my dad’s third and final combat jump, he was 26 at the time. Like your dad, he was a senior citizen in the 511PIR. He was always proud to be airborne and proud of the men he served with.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Great shout out to Purple Heart Day, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. First time seeing a Purple Heart medal, up close and personal. Thanks for the share GP😊

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wow, what a dangerous mission with so many dead and wounded paratroopers even before enemy contact!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. That video clip really is powerful after reading your words. Did your dad describe this to you, or is this how you imagine it feeling?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Strong and tough, mentally and physically. I salute those men!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Pure courage and bravery.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Beautifully described.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I love your posts like this. they’re like watching a mini movie, (Even when there’s no video included). My dad used to ride in the back seat of a glider in WW2.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Tough and dedicated men indeed. And just right for the hard task ahead of them.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Thank you for helping to share these tales of the past and keep their lives in our memory!

    Like

  31. Much appreciated.

    Like

  1. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGER: June – 11th Airborne (continued) //Pacific Paratrooper | ' Ace Worldwide History '

  2. Pingback: Featured Blogger: June – 187th/11th Airborne Division By //Pacific Paratrooper | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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