Men of D-Day


    
 Troop Carrier
Michael N. Ingrisano
Robert E. Callahan
Benjamin F. Kendig
John R. Devitt
Arthur W. Hooper
Ward Smith
Julian A. Rice
Charles E. Skidmore
Sherfey T. Randolph
Louis R. Emerson Jr.
Leonard L. Baer
Robert D. Dopita
Harvey Cohen
Zane H. Graves
John J. Prince
Henry C. Hobbs
John C. Hanscom
Charles S. Cartwright
 
 82nd Airborne
Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr.
Marie-T Lavieille
Denise Lecourtois
Howard Huebner
Malcolm D. Brannen
Thomas W. Porcella
Ray T. Burchell
Robert C. Moss
Richard R. Hill
Edward W. Shimko
 
 101st Airborne
John Nasea, Jr
David 'Buck' Rogers
Marie madeleine Poisson
Roger Lecheminant
Dale Q. Gregory
George E. Willey
Raymond Geddes
 
 Utah Beach
Joseph S. Jones
Jim McKee
Eugene D. Shales
Milton Staley
 
 Omaha Beach
Melvin B. Farrell
James R. Argo
Carl E. Bombardier
Robert M. Leach
Joseph Alexander
James Branch
John Hooper
Anthony Leone
George A. Davison
James H. Jordan
Albert J. Berard
Jewel M. Vidito
H. Smith Shumway
Louis Occelli
John H. Kellers
Harley A. Reynolds
John C. Raaen
Wesley Ross
Richard J. Ford
William C. Smith
Ralph E. Gallant
James W. Gabaree
James W. Tucker
Robert Watson
Robert R. Chapman
Robert H. Searl
Leslie Dobinson
William H. Johnson
 
 Gold Beach
George F. Weightman
Norman W. Cohen
Walter Uden
 
 Juno Beach
Leonard Smith
 
 Sword Beach
Brian Guy
 
 6th Airborne
Roger Charbonneau
Frederick Glover
Jacques Courcy
Arlette Lechevalier
Charles S. Pearson
 
 U.S.A.A.F
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
 
Civils
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
 

 

Thomas W. Porcella
Pvt - H Co. - 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment - 82nd Airborne

          As D-Day approached, the tension was increasing. The date had not been set and the men were making guesses as to when the jump was to take place. Then the time came when we were briefed for the mission.
          After the briefing our company officers had informed us that we were to be a part of the greatest invasion the world had ever known. The Airborne troops were given the mission to stop the Germans from reinforcing their troops on the beaches. We were ordered to hold and fight at all costs, while giving the American landing forces time to establish a strong beachhead.
          If the Airborne troops failed in their mission, it could be a disastrous defeat for the Allied forces.

SUNDAY, 28 MAY - FOLKINGHAM
          The third battalion of the 508th boarded the buses, with full combat equipment and were driven to the airfield at Folkingham, England. It was just a short ride to the hangars and when the buses stopped we assembled and marched inside, where we were assigned an army cot.
          I put my rifle and combat gear beneath the cot and lay down, closing my eyes. I thought to myself, "This is it, just a matter of time and I will be in combat. Wonder what my folks are doing at home? Are they thinking about the invasion? What would they think if they knew at this moment we were preparing ourselves for the invasion?"
          "Chow time!" Those words interrupted my thoughts. The men seemed to be taking their time lining up. It was by contrast a strange sight to see, for I remember when at base camp there was always a race to be first on line.
          To me, it appeared that the troopers were in no hurry.

WEDNESDAY, 31 MAY
          "Fall out, let's go -- on the double! With complete gear!" This was going to be a dry run for the real thing. I was wearing my trousers with the large patch pockets. My jump jacket was worn over a woollen undershirt. Next I put on the combat belt and suspenders. Attached to the belt was a shovel, a canteen filled with water, first aid pack, compass and bayonet. For safety I taped the handles of the grenades and put one each into both lower pockets of the jacket and in the leg pockets of the pants. I put my chocolate bars in the upper jacket pockets and a gas mask was strapped to my left leg. Below the gas mask I fastened a leather holster which contained a .32 Belgian pistol. A trench knife was securely strapped to my right boot.
          My rifle sling was fully extended and it hung across my chest on an angle. Three bandoliers of ammo were slung across my chest to the left side. On top of this went the main parachute. I adjusted the leg straps to fit as tightly as possible and then snapped the chest strap. My reserve chute was secured to the main harness.
          Below the reserve hung a musette bag, filled with three K-ration meals, a wool cap, underwear, toilet articles, vitamin pills, socks and other things we thought were important. Just below the musette bag hung a ten pound land mine.
          Fastening all this equipment together with a belt and attaching it to the right side of the main chute proved the most difficult procedure of all. The belt must be passed through the rear of the reserve chute and attached to the left side. Then all must be adjusted so that a quick tug will release the belt. The chin strap of the helmet was made to fit tightly, because the initial shock of the parachute opening could push your helmet forward, causing facial injuries.
          Wearing my complete combat equipment, including the parachute, I walked over to platoon leader Sergeant Bundy, to have him inspect my equipment. (Actually, we all waddled like ducks...)
          I made some minor adjustments to increase my ability to move. I estimated that my total weight was about three hundred pounds. Sergeant Bundy looked me over and said, "Okay, that's the way it will be when I give the order to go."
          We were told to remove our gear and keep it all together for we would move at a minute's notice.
          I was worried about the leg straps. They fit very high around the top of the thighs and needed to be fastened tightly. I was concerned about removing them quickly so decided to cut them after I had landed.
          Out came the oil stone and I began to resharpen my trench knife. When I finished, the blade was razor sharp. I then tied a leather thong around the handle, forming a loop large enough to slip my hand through.
          I was laying on the cot with all sorts of thoughts tumbling through my mind while waiting for the order to go. The tension was building up inside all of us. There was an uneasy silence throughout the hangar.
          A trooper named Harold Wilbur came and sat next to me on the cot. He asked me how I felt about going into combat. I told him I was nervous. He wanted to know if I thought I would survive and I replied, "I don't know." Harold told me that he had a feeling he would be killed in the jump. His prediction came true. Although I have no verification, I believe he died in the initial jump.
          I knew the time would soon be upon us when we would receive the orders to put on the equipment and board the planes. So many thoughts were in my mind. "Did I have enough training for combat? How would I react under enemy fire? Would I be too frightened to carry out orders? Would I still do the job I had been trained for?" On and on and on the thoughts went.
          "Kill or be killed." What a horrible thought! How would I feel if I killed a man? The Ten Commandments state, "Thou Shalt Not Kill."
          Suddenly there was a burst of machine gun fire and we scattered in all directions. I hit the floor and the ensuing silence made me realize that a burst of gun fire had hit the ceiling of the hangar. The officers raised Hell about a sub-Thompson going off. They gave us orders NOT to put ammo in the chambers of our weapons, but to load them after we had landed. We got an idea of combat right there in the hangar.
          I could hear the sounds of the C47 engines and knew they were being placed in formation for our departure.

MONDAY, 5 JUNE - ON OUR WAY
          "Let's go, put on your equipment!" the sergeants were shouting to their men, "This is it!"
For a brief moment there was silence throughout the hangar. Then all at once there was a tremendous roar of voices.
          "Geronimo!"
          "Give 'em Hell!"
          "Let's go!!"
          The morale of the men was high and they were ready to take on the Germans. The noise and the shouting were deafening. The hangar was a beehive of activity as the men were putting on their equipment. You could hear shouts of "Hey, give me a hand", "Who's got my rifle?", "Where is Sergeant Bundy?", "Help me get this damn chute on," and "I can't fasten my leg straps!" Some were helping others who were having a hard time, while others were starting to line up according to their squad. When all were ready and in formation, it became silent again. All you could hear were the officers and non-coms giving orders to their squads.
          Fully equipped, we marched at a slow pace toward our planes. It was getting dark and the men were silent as they neared the C47.
          Finally, shouts and laughter could be heard as the fully equipped troopers tried to climb the steps to enter the plane.
It was a difficult task and required each others help. I was first in and therefore, would be the last to leave the aircraft. After we were seated, the crew sergeant checked the static line wire which extended the length of the plane. He also reminded us to have the static line hook in our left hand.
          The Air Force Crew Sergeant did his best to make conversation. It was obvious that he was trying to put us at ease. The sergeant asked, "Where are you troopers from?" Most of us replied with the name of our home state. He insisted that Kentucky was the best state in the Union. The troopers gave him Hell! We all laughed -- he had succeeded in breaking the tension. One trooper asked the sergeant if it was true that he had orders to shoot any man who refused to jump. He replied quietly, "That's the order I've been given." His soft answer brought on a terrible silence.
          The Crew Sergeant looked out of the door as the engines of the C47s were warming up. He was watching the long formation on the runway. Our plane began to move and before long, we also were in formation. We could feel the vibrations as the engines strained at full RPMs moving down the runway. In a few minutes we were airborne. When in group formation, we would be on our way to France.
          "It will be some time before we reach our drop zone, so relax if you can. I'm sorry you're not allowed to smoke in the plane." The plane was in darkness and we were alone with our thoughts. The crew sergeant went to the front of the plane and spoke to the pilot.
          "What the Hell is the noise?" someone asked.
          The sergeant told us we were flying near the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, and we were being greeted by antiaircraft fire from the Germans. We could hear the shells bursting outside the planes and see the tracers from machine guns in the distance. We were fortunate that our plane was not hit by the shrapnel or bullets.
          No one in the plane spoke. I could feel a chill come over me. I felt like a sitting duck and wished we were at our drop zone.

TUESDAY, 6 JUNE 1944 - D-DAY
          "Stand up and hook up.'" The silence was broken and we jumped up and snapped our hooks onto the wire. Then the sergeant called, "Keep your hand on the D-ring when you leave the plane."
          "Sound off for equipment check." I shouted, "17 O.K." The next man shouted "16 O.K." The countdown continued until, "1 O.K." "Stand in the door." My heart was pounding and I said a prayer to myself. I shouted, "What time is it?" It was 2:30, although I don't know who answered. I don't know why I asked for the time, but I suppose it relieved the tension. I felt I was all alone and continued praying.
          The first man held his position in the doorway and we all shuffled up tightly and kept the pressure on him until we heard, "Are you ready?" All together we yelled, "Yeah!"
          "Let's go!" With the roar of the engines in my ears, I was out the door and into the silence of the night. I realized I had made the "JUMP INTO DARKNESS."
          As the chute popped open, my head snapped forward and my feet came up; my helmet was pushed slightly over my face. The jolt of the opening chute soon made everything a reality. I looked up at my chute to make sure it was o.k., then looked down and couldn't see anything but blackness. I unfastened the main belt, unsnapped my reserve and let it drop to the ground. I opened the chest strap. Now all I had to do on the ground was remove the leg straps and I would be free of the parachute.
          For a few seconds on the way down I looked around and saw red and green flares. The brightness of tracers flying into the sky and the sound of machine guns firing seemed to be all around me. I thought, "....just like the Fourth of July."
          Looking up at the chute and then down at my feet, I had the shock of my life. I plunged into water. My heart was pounding and my thoughts were running a mile a minute. "How deep is the water? Can I get free of my chute? Am I too heavy? Will the weight keep me on the bottom?"
          I hit the water in a standing position and when my feet touched the bottom I was leaning slightly forward. I straightened and kicked up for air. The water was not as deep as I had expected, so I held my breath and tried to stand. The water was almost above my nose! Quickly I stood on my toes and gasped for another breath of air. My heart was beating so rapidly that I thought it would burst. I pleaded, "Oh God, please, don't let me drown."
          Below the water I went and tried to remove the leg straps. They were too tight and wouldn't unsnap. Needing more air, I jumped up and as soon as my head was above water,
I began splashing around. I started to pray, standing on my toes with my head barely above water, my heart beating faster. After a few seconds I calmed down and decided to cut the straps. "God, 'my only chance is the knife. Please let it be there."
          Going down into the water again, I felt for my right boot. "Yes, yes, it's still here." I slipped my hand through the loop and tightly gripped the handle. With a fast upward motion, I removed the knife from the sheath. Quickly I jumped up for more air and stood still for a while thinking, "Now I have a chance." Holding the knife tighter as I went below the water, I slipped it between my leg and the strap, working back and forth in an upward motion. Nothing happened!
          In a panic, I came up for another breath of air and thought my heart would burst from fright. I wanted to scream for help but knew that could make matters worse. I told myself I must think. "Think .... Why can't I cut the strap? My knife is razor sharp!" As I was gasping for air I kept saying Hail Mary's. It seemed an eternity before I realized I had the blade upside down. "That's it! I'm using the back of the blade!" I touched the sharpened edge and made sure it was in the upright position.
          Taking another gulp of air, I went down again to cut the leg straps. With a few pulls of the knife on each strap I was finally free of the chute.
          Getting rid of the chute calmed me a little, but the weight of the musette bag and land mine was still holding me down. With a few rapid strokes of the knife, I cut loose the land mine. Then I unfastened the straps of the musette bag and let it fall.
          I adjusted the rifle and bandoleers of ammo into a more comfortable position. Then I cut away the gas mask and removed the hand grenades from my leg pockets and put them into the lower jacket pockets. Reaching up, I unfastened the chin strap of the helmet and let it fall into the water. After taking another deep breath I bent down to retrieve the musette bag. Except for the wool cap, the entire contents were disposed of and the bag was then thrown over my head to hang behind me.
          I became conscious of the rifle and machine gun fire in the distance and I was gripped by fear. All the training I had received had not prepared me for a landing like this - in water!! The equipment I still carried was heavy and I was terrified I would drown because of it. I hesitated to move for fear of walking into deeper water. I needed to find a spot where the water was a little lower though, so I could get off my toes and rest.
          Moving slowly, inch by inch, the water became shallower. When it was chest height, I stopped and rested, trying to decide which way to go. My eyes strained to see a landmark, but I could see nothing in the darkness. I was cold and began to shiver.
          We had been told at the briefing to go in the direction of the next plane coming in if we were separated from the squad. "Suppose there are no more planes. . .then what should I do?" The water seemed to be getting colder now. My shivering got worse and my teeth were chattering. "I must keep moving; then I won't feel the cold so much."
          The water was now at waist level and I believed I was walking toward high ground. I kept moving, but the water then became deeper. I turned and returned to the waist-high water.
          In the distance to my left I could hear the sound of airplane engines coming in my direction and getting louder. All Hell broke loose as rifles and machine guns began firing and I watched the tracers flying into the air. Suddenly there was a huge burst of orange flames coming from both engines. As the plane came down it sounded like the scream of a human being about to die. I could not believe what was happening. I just stood still... seeing, hearing. Suddenly I realized the plane was heading straight for me in a ball of flames and screeching for help.
          As fast as I could, I moved to the right, trying to get out of its path. "Oh my God, it's banking towards me!" In a panic, I tried to run the other way. The flames lit up the darkness, and with screaming engines, the plane crashed. It was dark again and became very quiet.
          As I stood shaking in the cold water, I wondered if the troopers had bailed out before the crash. "I'll head in that direction and maybe I'll join with some of them. I have to get out of this water before daylight -- if I'm spotted by the Germans, they'll use me for target practice."
          I was still shoulder high in the water and was pushing my way through some weeds. "No, it couldn't be. Did I hear a voice?" Pushing the weeds away as I walked, I heard the password, "FLASH." I recognized the voice to be Dale Cable's. Pushing the weeds from side to side, my right arm hit against a hard object and I heard the click of a trigger. Cable hollered "FLASH" again, while he cocked the bolt of his weapon and put a round in the chamber. Immediately I replied, "THUNDER." He recognized my voice and proceeded to give me Hell for not answering the first time. His rifle was a few inches from my face.
          Meeting Tommy Horne made us feel better and the three of us proceeded toward the plane. While walking through the tall weeds, we again heard the password and replied. This time we found Tom Lott and asked him if he thought there was anyone else in the water. He said he hadn't heard any other movement except ours. Time was running out. Hoping to join up with other troopers, we moved as fast as we could. We knew it was imperative that we leave the water before daylight.
          We were moving along in single file, but with some space between us. I heard splashing. Tom Lott was making noise as though he were going under. Horne and I rushed over and pulled him above water. We couldn't understand what had happened until Tom told us he could not swim. We decided to keep a tight single file, and we put Tom Lott between Dale Cable and myself. Tom Horne led. Cable told Lott to hold onto his rifle barrel and to stay as close to him as possible.
          Daylight was coming upon us fast and we could now see the outline of trees. We all knew what would happen if we failed to reach land before daylight. In our haste to reach high ground, Tommy Lott let go of Cable's rifle and went slightly to our right, falling below the water. This time I thought we had lost him for sure. Rushing over, I grabbed him and kept his head above water. He was coughing loudly, so we rested for a few seconds. We all told him again and again to stay close! Now we could see land clearly and Horne was moving us faster. Just as we reached the bank he went under, but managed to struggle to his feet again. Lott was afraid to move so I pulled him by the hand while Cable pushed from behind. We finally got him onto high ground.
          The four of us collapsed on the bank, completely exhausted.
          It was almost daylight when we took cover in the hedgerows. The hours spent in the cold water left us shivering. Water was dripping from our uniforms and sloshed in our boots. I made a clearing in the brush and removed my combat belt and bandoliers of ammo. I shook the water from my M1 and removed the clip of ammo, then looked down the barrel to see if it was clogged. It appeared to be clean so I replaced the ammo, then sat down.
          While removing my boots and socks, I noticed that my pistol and holster were gone. After squeezing the water from my socks, I put them back on and laced up my boots. I took off my combat jacket and wool undershirt. Wringing the water from these was difficult but I did the best I could with both. After putting on the damp undershirt, it gave me the shivers and my teeth began to chatter. Reaching for my musette bag, I took out the wool cap, gave it a few squeezes to remove the water and put it on my head.
          My knife was still hanging over my wrist. Before putting it into the sheath, I gave it a little kiss. If it weren't for that knife, I'd still be in the swamp, struggling... .Or drowned.
          Zipping up my combat jacket, I slung the ammo over my shoulder and sat down beside a tree. Resting my back against the trunk, I reached into my pocket for a chocolate bar, had a few bites, then put it back into my pocket.
          My teeth were chattering and I was shivering from the cold. I prayed that God would be good to us and make the sun shine. My prayers were answered. In the bright sunlight, we slept for a little while.
          Tom Home suggested that we move out and try to contact some of the other men from our regiment. Lott and Cable agreed, so we ran across the field to a hedgerow, spotting a road. Looking to the left, we saw a few troopers walking down the road towards us. We jumped over the hedgerow with our guns levelled at them. They gave us Hell for keeping them covered, but after speaking to them for a few minutes, we were convinced they were Americans.
          They told us we took a Hell of a beating on the initial jump, losing many men in the high water of the swamps along with most of our gliders. The situation looked very discouraging at the time. We asked about the 508 men and if they had met any down the road. They told us the men they had met were from different regiments. These troopers were from the 507th and were trying to find their own regiment. Wishing each other good luck, we went our separate ways.
          We continued down the road, running short distances at a time and taking cover in ditches. Further down the road we heard more voices and stopped, took cover in the ditch and listened. We recognized the American voices and came out with our rifles in a hip firing position, while advancing toward the troopers.
          We were standing outside a small building and after identifying each other, we asked what was going on. They told us there were many wounded inside, so we entered and spoke to some of them. None of the GIs being taken care of by the medics were from our company.
          After leaving the building we went further down the road and came upon a glider that had crashed. Immediately we went to see if there were any wounded inside. To our surprise there was a medic attending the wounded in there. Except for one, all the glidermen had died in the crash. His leg was crushed and the medic was about to remove it. The glidermen didn't have much of a chance. I hadn't seen a glider that wasn't badly damaged or which hadn't crashed. Paratroopers have a great admiration and respect for the glidermen. They had it a lot tougher than us.
          Horne, Cable, Lott and I were still together at this point. There was some shooting down the road and we could hear more voices. Cautiously we ran down the road and met a few more troopers. They had some Germans pinned down and Jack Schlegel was trying to talk them into giving up. Jack was doing a lot of shouting in German, and then waiting for a reply. When he received no answer, he gave a burst from his machine gun. After that a few Germans gave up to him.
          Right after they surrendered we received mortar and rifle fire and scattered from the hedgerows to take cover. That was the last time I was to see Tom Horne, Dale Cable or Tom Lott.

WEDNESDAY, 7 JUNE
          While in the hedgerow, I joined another group of troopers, one of whom was Cannonball, our cook in England. It gave me a good feeling to be with someone I knew, having been separated from my friends.
          In single file we moved along a hedgerow which was parallel to a road. The column stopped when we received word that a vehicle was traveling on the road toward us. It was a German motorcyclist. Cannonball said he was going to shoot the rider. Taking careful aim, he waited until the cyclist was about fifty feet away and fired a single shot.
          The German seemed suspended in midair, while the motorcycle continued to go. It crashed into the side of the road. The German soldier lay in the middle of the road with his arms outstretched. This was the first dead German solider I had seen. He looked young, about twenty years of age, with blonde hair.
          We stayed in our position and waited to see if there were any more Germans on the way. A few minutes passed before they gave the "all clear" - "move on." We ran in leaps and bounds, keeping an eye on the road.
          After running a short distance, the column stopped again. "Why are we stopping?" I asked. "There is a road up ahead," came the reply. "As soon as the first man crosses the road we'll move forward."
          A trooper started his run, he reached the middle of the road, a shot was fired and the trooper fell face down, arms outstretched, as if reaching for the other side.
          Immediately there was an exchange of machine gun and rifle fire. The hand signal was given to keep going. We ware all moving very rapidly, leaving the trooper where he fell - all alone.
          With all the uncertainty of not knowing where we were going, fear began to grip us. WP began to bunch up in small groups. "Don't bunch up," a voice shouted - "keep a distance of 15 feet between you and keep your eyes on the man in front of you. Keep moving."
          While the daylight was disappearing, the orders were given to dig in for the night. "One man sleeps, the other stays awake. No smoking, stay in close contact with each other. We move at the crack of daylight. Hopefully we shall contact Regimental Headquarters."
          I was shivering from the cold night air, my thoughts were of a GI blanket and a hot cup of coffee. How did I get into this predicament? My teeth would not stop chattering as I continued thinking of England, the mesa hall, food, hot coffee and a warm stove. It was not possible to sleep, the night became colder and colder....
          When daylight arrived, we welcomed it for now we could start moving and warm up. Some one shouted, "Move Out!" and silently we followed the man in front, wondering where we were going.
          More troopers joined our group and we were organized into squads, then given a position to defend near the road. We were placed in a defensive fighting position and told to keep alert.
          We had no officers, just non-coms, who knew and did their job well in setting up a perimeter. My position was in a corner of a field and just across from me was Sergeant Busson, who set up his mortar position.

THURSDAY, 8 JUNE - HILL 30
          About midday a fierce battle began. Sergeant Kohanic opened fire with his 50 calibre machine gun and Sergeant Busson with his 60mm mortar. Sergeant Kohanic stopped a tank which was from World War I. The battle raged until late afternoon when Sergeant Busson shouted, "That's the last of the mortar shell, let's get the Hell out of here!" We left the position and ran up another hedgerow.
          We were unable to open a gate with a padlock on it, so we blasted it off with a burst of bullets from a sub-Thompson and ran into the field along the hedgerow. We took up new positions and before long, made contact with Colonel Shanley. He gave us new positions and there we waited for another German attack.
          Sergeant Busson asked for volunteers to go and look for the wounded. About eight of us volunteered to go back to the fields and bring them in.
          We entered the first field and saw two troopers laying on the ground. One of them had his head completely blown apart and was unrecognizable. From his name tag we learned he was R.W. Benson, H Company. A few feet from him lay another trooper whose body was badly mangled. One leg was mutilated and the other leg was under his body. I thought he was dead, but as I began to move the leg that was under him, he let out a cry of pain. We handled him carefully and put him on a stretcher.
          We were so weak from lack of food that it took eight of us to carry one wounded soldier. We took him to a ditch were all the other wounded were assembled. They were placed at various intervals along the hedgerows, and we did the best we could for them. We covered them with parachutes to keep them warm and made pillows from the chutes. We had found a pen that belonged to Sergeant Williams, but not a sign of him. We assumed he had been taken prisoner.
          Walking along the hedgerow with another trooper where the wounded were laying, a voice called, "Hey trooper, come here." As I walked toward him I asked him how he felt. He wanted to know how badly he was hit. Looking down at him, I saw that all the flesh was blown away from the right side of his face. He started crying and reached for his face with a hand that was black with dirt. Quickly I grabbed his wrist and told him not to touch his face, that he would be all right. He asked me for a cigarette and a drink of water.
          In the same area there were many dead Germans. One had been attempting to go through a hedgerow and was shot before he got through. Below him on the road were two more Germans, laying on their backs. One held his hands together, as if begging for his life. The other died with a sneer on his face, and like the first, with his eyes open.
          The troopers were most concerned about the soldiers who were wounded and needed medical attention. The best we could do though was to dress their wounds with a gauze pad and sulphur powder and try to keep them warm.
          Lieutenant Millsap led the troopers in an attempt to cross the river and inform our regimental commander of the situation. Many troopers lost their lives in this attempt, but did however, succeed in making contact with the main forces and asked for immediate artillery fire to break up the impending attack against us.
          He also informed them that we had many wounded in the trenches, and if we failed to repel the German attack, our small group would be annihilated and all our wounded would surely die.
          Many of the wounded said they would die fighting rather than surrender.
          The troopers stayed in their position and prayed that relief would soon arrive. Before noon, artillery began falling in the next hedgerow. We were bewildered because we were unable to decide whose artillery it was. Were the Germans shelling us and falling short, or were the Americans firing on target? Luck was on our side; it was our artillery firing with deadly accuracy. The shells exploded all around our position and the German attack never came.
          Soon darkness fell and quiet surrounded us. The Germans were two hedgerows away and during the night I heard them speaking, and a dragging sound. The next day I discovered it was small artillery on wagons, which they were planning to use on their counter attack.
          Since D-Day, the only food I had eaten was a few chocolate bars, and I began to feel weak from hunger. We searched constantly for food, or for anyone who could give us something to eat. Some of the French people shunned us, but we were to find out later that they were under the threat of death if they were caught aiding us in any way.
          Looking out my foxhole one morning, I saw a trooper carrying a huge piece of meat. I asked him if the main part of the regiment had broken through and brought supplies.
          "Hell, no. One of the troopers shot a cow and everyone is cutting up slabs of beef. You want some?" Of course I did, and he cut off a portion.
          I put it in my canteen cup with some water and boiled it. A residue formed on top of the water which looked and smelled too horrible to eat. I threw it away and still was hungry......

Thomas W. Porcella     (December 03, 2005)

          On 27 November 1942, Thomas W. Porcella enlisted in the United States Army, volunteered for paratrooper duty and was inducted at Whitehall Street, New York City. He was sent to Camp Upton, New York and Camp Toccoa, Georgia, and then to Camp Blanding, Florida, to be part of the Third Battalion of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. In Camp Blanding he received army basic training and preparation for parachute school. At Fort Benning, Georgia, he qualified as a parachutist, earning his Silver Wings in March 1943.
          In April of 1943 the regiment was stationed at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, for advanced military training. The 508th left for Camp Shanks, New York, in preparation for overseas duty in December 1943. The ship, (James Parker) safely delivered the 508th at Belfast Harbor, Northern Ireland in January, 1944. March of 1944 found them in Nottingham, England for final training before the invasion of Normandy, France.
          Upon his discharge in January, 1946, he was awarded the following decorations:
The Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Distinguished Unit Emblem, American Campaign Medal, European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge. Also Army of Occupation Medal, French Fourragere, Belgian Fourragere and Netherlands Orange Lanyard.