Stokes spent 2
years in the cavalry in Panama from 1939
to 1940. He was called back in 1942 with
the 325th infantry at camp Clayborne LA.
He was then assigned to the 82nd Airborne
Division. Stokes was with the 80th from Fort
Bragg to Africa, Italy, Ireland, England,
Normandy, and Holland until his death during
the battle of the Bulge. Stokes had 3 other
brothers who fought in WWII. Jim Taylor was
killed in Action of Salvo Island when his
ship the U.S.S. Quincy was sunk. Ben Taylor
was in one of the Ranger outfits and was
wounded in Europe. Dave Taylor was a paratrooper
in the 101st Airborne Division. He was in
one of the first Airborne Company’s
formed in 1940. He was also wounded around
the town of Bastogne, Belgium during the
battle of the Bulge.
Lt. Jake Wertich was killed in action at
the same time and place as Stokes and also
won the Distinguished Service Cross Medal.
The commander of the 2nd company M. B. Ridgway
of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment
said this gun dueled with heavy mechanized
artillery and tanks from around 02:30 am
till they were overrun by elements of the
1st SS Panzer Division.
A little 80th AAA History
They were always glad to see the 80th Anti
Aircraft. While their biggest gun was the
57mm, no match for the German 88mm, they
were a welcome addition. All told, the
80th Airborne Anti Aircraft Battalion lost
64 men of which five are not found in the
The 80th Anti Aircraft Battalion was activated
on September 3rd 1942 at camp Clayborne,
L.A. as the 82nd Division was being converted
to Airborne. Personnel came from A and C
Companies of the 326th Infantry and A and
B Companies of the 325th of the 82nd. The
first Commanding Officer was Colonel Whitfield
Jack. When the 82nd became airborne, personnel
were not volunteers but were assigned. As "Anti
Aircraft" they wore the
braid of the Coast Artillery, but were primarily "Anti-Tank" from
Africa forward. The Battalion joined the
82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg and underwent
glider training. The Battalion was a division
resource and batteries were assigned to each
of the three regiments as needed. It is probable
that every battery was assigned to support
The Battalion consisted of a HQ and six
batteries A through F. Each battery had 8
guns and about 70 to 100 men. The first weapons
for Batteries A, B and C were first 40mm
Bofers AA, then 37mm AT and in Africa they
converted to 57mm, known as the six-pounder.
Batteries D, E and F retained the 50 caliber.
Anti Aircraft ground mount and machine guns.
On April 27th 1943 the Battalion went overseas
on the George Washington, which along with
the Monterey, carried the 82nd Airborne.
The Battalion followed the 82nd through Sicily,
Italy and onto Ireland.
In England, the 80th Anti Aircraft Airborne
was stationed in Oadby Racecourse, where
a plaque was placed in 1997 in remembrance
of their stay there. In Normandy the first
gliders carrying the 80th AAA arrived at
04:03 am. Batteries A, B and C flew into
Normandy in 42 CG4A and 14 Horsa gliders
carrying 24-57mm guns, 28 Jeeps and 9-1/4
ton Trailers. Batteries D, E and F came in
by boat from Cardiff. Mark Alexander told
of a crew with one 57mm near St. Sauveur
le Vicomte, without gun sight, which he directed
be "bore-sighted" to protect that
location. All Batteries went into Holland
by glider led by Batteries A and B. They
were 126 CG4A gliders, 536 men, 32 57mm guns,
52 Jeeps and 24 1/4 ton Trailers. Battery
E had been converted to 8 57mm. (We all remember
those gliders out there in "no man's
Entering Belgium Batteries A, B and C first
took up defensive positions near Werbomont.
During the Bulge one gun of Battery A was
left behind to cover movements of the 505th
2nd Battalion when they were overrun and
four men were killed, Lt. Wertich and Corporal
Taylor receiving the DSC medal. While men
of the 80th had not joined the 82nd Airborne
as volunteers they became Airborne and they
knew they were part of a first class force.
The 80th remained in the 82nd until de-activation
in the 1950's.