M. "Buck" Rogers
Hqs. Co. 1st Bn - 506th PIR, 101st
I was picked as one of the cadre that formed
the 506th parachute regiment while stationed with the 501st parachute
battalion in the Panama canal Zone. This was June 1942. I returned
to Lawson Field, Ft. Benning, Georgia arriving there about July
1, 1942. The 506th regiment had it's beginning on July 20, 1942.
We trained in the States until September, 1943. We sailed for England
from New York on Sept. 5 and docked in Liverpool Sept. 15. The ship
was the SS Samaria. We went by railway to the northeastern area
of Wiltshire. My headquarters company 1st battalion 506 was stationed
near Littlecote House which is near the village of Chilton Foliat.
Regimental Headquarters was in Littlecote House. Most of the Regiment
was stationed at Ramsbury and Aldbourne. There was an airfield near
Ramsbury. Another airfield in the area was Membury. We took off
from Membury for the Holland "Market Garden" operation.
We trained very hard while in England from the time we arrived until
D-day. We made both day and night jumps during our training. We
went to an airfield near Honiton, Devonshire called Upottery on
May 31, 1944. We would take off from there for the D-day operation.
arrival at Upottery Airfield, on May 31, 1944, we were placed in
a closely guarded area. after getting settled, we spent most of
our time in the large briefing tent. In this tent there were wall
maps, sand tables, and aerial photographs. We listened to lectures
did an intense study of the maps, sand tables, and aerial photographs
We learned that we would land on drop zone C just west of Ste-Marie-du-Mont,
Normandy. This would be inland from a beach labeled Utah.
food served while at Upottery was better than any we had since leaving
the States. We had ice cream, white bread, steaks, and many other
food items not usually served to us since arriving in England. We
joked that we were being fattened for the kill.
were issued our parachutes, ammunition, gas mask, life preservers,
etc. a day before the expected departure for Normandy. This was
June 3 since we originally were taking off from Upottery at about
11:00 PM on the evening of the 4th of June. As we now know, D-Day
was delayed one day due to weather conditions. Our takeoff was during
the late evening hours of June 5th.
boarded truck with all of our equipment at about 9:00 PM on June
5th and was driven to our planes. We dismounted from the trucks,
put on our parachutes, life preservers, all the other equipment
we carried, and was issued seasick pills. We boarded our planes
about 10:30 PM. It was no easy task getting on the plane with all
of our equipment including arms and ammunition. I carried a 30.06
M-1 rifle, a 45 caliber Colt automatic pistol, trench knife, and
hand grenades. I carried a large bright orange flag which I was
to use in signalling any of the Beach landing forces if and when
I saw them. We were also issued some French francs, how much, I
don't remember. I still have some of this money. Each of us carried
a dime store metal cricket for identification purposes. One squeeze,
click-clack to be answered by two click-clacks.
plane took off at 11:15 PM. As I remember, it was not quite dark
at this time. There was some flying time used to get this huge number
of planes in the proper formation for the flight to Normandy. We
eventually headed south toward our destination and found ourselves
flying at about 500 feet elevation over the English Channel. There
was not a lot of talking during the flight across the Channel. I
think most of the men were contemplating what was about to happen.
we neared Guernsey island, the planes began to turn eastward toward
the Normandy coast. When we were over the coast, the planes entered
a cloud or fog bank. It was at this time that some of the planes
lost formation. The pilots had been told to hold formation at all
cost, most did but some did not. As a result of this, some of the
paratroopers were dropped miles from their drop zone. The pilot
of my plane stayed the course and we flew directly over our drop
zone C. A mortar cart that was to be pushed out the plane door before
we jumped was slow in getting out delayed us a bit.
my parachute opened, I was directly above the church steeple of
the church in Ste-Marie-du-Mont. The moon was full and there were
scattered clouds which made every thing on the ground easy to see.
When I looked down, I saw the picture of Ste-Marie-du-Mont. It looked
just like the picture I had studied so intensely at Uppottery. I
knew without a doubt that I was over the church steeple in that
small French village.
drifted to the edge of the village and landed with my Parachute
caught in a small tree in a fence row. I was probably 75 ft from
some buildings. I got out of my parachute and was looking around
the area when I saw a shadowy figure about 150 ft along the fence
row moving toward me. I clicked my cricket and received two clicks
in return. We moved toward each other and I met my Battalion Sgt
Major, Sgt Issac Cole. We were extremely happy to see each other.
this time, troop carrier planes were still flying over and gunfire
sounds were coming from every direction. It wasn't long before Sgt
Cole and myself had gathered together 6 or 7 other paratroopers,
none of whom I knew. We didn't bother to ask their names or what
unit they belonged to. We were just glad to have this small group
together in one place.
some consultation, we decided to move toward the church and the
center of the village. As we moved along the street, we decided
to knock on a door and try to get some information about the enemy.
An elderly French man answered our knock. One of the men in our
group could speak some French and he asked him where the Germans
were. Waving his hand over his head, he said, "every where."
We proceeded on to the church and decided that we would enter and
have half of our group stay on the ground floor and the others would
go up into the steeple. Sgt Cole, myself and three of the other
men would go up the steeple. After going to the upper reaches of
the steeple, we found that we had could fire in every direction
and had a good view in most every direction. We would do our best
to prevent any German troops from moving through the village.
was not long in coming and when it did I looked toward Utah Beach
and saw the most awe inspiring sight I had ever seen. There were
hundreds and hundreds of ships of various kinds laying off the beach.
I could see some of the ships firing on the beach. Later there were
planes dropping bombs. After some time had passed, we saw the boats
caring the landing forces moving toward the beach. We now new the
sea landing forces were on their way.
later saw a lone paratrooper moving along the sidewalk hugging the
buildings as he moved. He was passing the corner of a building where
another street entered the church square when he collapsed to the
sidewalk. we heard the shot and we knew he had been hit. he didn't
move after he fell so we knew that he was probably dead. This was
a sobering event, At that moment, we realized that we were in a
deadly game of kill or be killed. After a few minutes, a German
soldier came from around the corner of the building where the dead
paratrooper lay and begin to go through the trooper's pockets. We
begin to fire our weapons at the German and dropped across the paratroopers
that morning two German soldiers came riding into the village driving
a small vehicle. When they came into view below us we opened fire.
One of them, I remember he had red hair, jumped of the vehicle started
running along the sidewalk below us. He was looking left and right
trying to determine where the gunfire was coming from. He didn't
go far before he dropped to the sidewalk dead. The driver of the
vehicle had placed it in reverse and it was moving backward. It
backed into a building and stopped. The driver was slumped over
dead by the time the vehicle stopped.
the early afternoon I saw an American tank about 175 yards distance
with it's gun pointed toward the steeple. I unfolded the flag and
waved it at the tank. That wave did not save us from some shell
fire. It was not the tank that was firing at us An artillery shell
came screaming by the church steeple. From the sound, we knew the
shell was coming from a different direction than the tank. A moment
or two later we heard another artillery shell screaming toward us.
This one hit the steeple above us with a very loud explosion. Debris
begin to fall from the explosion and a big hole was opened in the
steeple. It was a miracle that none of us were hurt.
beach forces and other paratroopers arrived in the village soon
after the artillery shell hit the steeple and we came down from
the steeple. Cole and myself went and pulled my parachute from the
tree. I cut two panels out of it which I folded and placed in my
back pack. I still have this piece of my parachute that lowered
me to the ground in Normandy.
moved out of Ste-Marie-du-Mont late that afternoon and went to Holdy
where we had learned that My company commander, Capt. Patch and
other members of my company were located. When we arrived at Holdy
we were told that they had captured 4 artillery guns and that Sgt
William King had bore sited one of the guns and fired it at the
church steeple they could see in the distance. They thought that
the steeple was being used by the Germans to direct artillery fire.
area around the four guns were littered by dead Germans and a few
paratroopers. The dead paratroopers were from our company mortar
squad. They had landed in and around the area of the guns and were
immediately killed before getting out of their parachutes.
this time it was getting dark and we learned we would be heading
toward Carentan the next morning, June 7.
Shoulderpatch of the 101st Airborne.
David M. "Buck" Rogers in his
David Rogers landed on this spot
in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Normandy, France, on June 6th 1944
Did you know that David M. Buck
Rogers thanks his nickname to the Science Fiction series "Buck
Rogers? Here is what David M. Rogers has to say about that himself:
Back in the Thirties and Forties, of the past Century, there was
a strip in the comic sections of all our newspapers called "Buck
Rogers of the 25th Century". The main character, Buck Rogers,
did all kinds of weird things like wearing a jumping belt that enabled
him to jump over cities if the need arose.
I was a little more "jump happy", as it was referred to
at the time, than the average I would make a parachute jump at every
opportunity. A few of us would do free fall jumping during the weekends
while in Panama. That's when I picked up the nickname "Buck"