Thursday, July 21, 2011

The All Americans in WWII

Shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, young men from almost every background volunteered to join a new branch of the U.S. Army�the parachute forces. Private Ross S. Carter noted that "every level of society had its representation among us. Senators' sons rubbed shoulders with ex-cowboys. Steelworkers chummed up with tough guys from city slums. Farm boys, millionaires' spoiled brats, white-collar men, factory workers, ex-convicts, jailbirds, and hoboes joined for the thrill and adventure of parachute jumping. And so, the armys largest collection of adventurous men congregated in the parachute troops. "The thing that distinguished us from most other soldiers was our willingness to take chances and risks in a branch of the army that provided a great, new, almost unexplored frontier. In other days paratroopers would have been the type to sail with Columbus, or the first to seek out the West and fight the Indians." They underwent extremely tough physical training throughout the four weeks of jump school, during which many of the volunteers dropped out. In February 1942, a division that had a legendary record for its actions in World War I was reactivated�the 82nd Infantry Division.