| Lt. Thomad
G Company, 506th, 101st Airborne
Let’s start from the beginning, I shared
a room in Parliament Peace with Lt. Turner M. Chaubliss. I was his
assistant platoon leader, 2nd platoon, G Company, 506 Parachute
Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne. About a week before we left for
the marshalling area. Lt. Derwood Cann, platoon leader of the 1st
platoon was hospitalised and I was assigned as 1st platoon leader
for the upcoming invasion.
I landed on the front edge of the Landing Zone
(LZ). My plane was chalk #13 and this was my 13th jump. I was the
jumpmaster and had 19 men. Our pilot was Willow G. Smith and the
co-pilot was George Fitzpatrick. On return from Normandy Fitzpatrick
was promoted and made 1st Pilot. The rest of the crew were all killed
in action in a re-supply mission to Bastogne. George Fitzpatrick
is still living (as I am writing this in 2004) and I am still in
contact with him.
When I landed in Normandy I was in about 12 inches
of water, with several tethered animals. I was able to orient myself
from briefings and the church steeple in Carentan. I was unable
to assemble due to the huge barn fire close to our designated assembly
area. I did not hear a bugle or see any blue lights. (Assembly Circles)
I got out of my chute with great difficulty and
started to move in the direction of our objectives in Brévands.
At first I picked up several men and made them point men. I do not
remember the names of these men. We kept picking up men as we moved
further. At about 03:00 Am the point man came back and told me he
had run into Colonel “Jumpy” Johnson. I asked him how
many men he had and he did not know but would find out. When he
came back he said: “Just the Colonel and his bodyguards.”
We continued to move in the direction of the locks, the 501st objective
and the bridges the 3rd battalion objective.
Just before dawn I held up the column that continued
to grow as we moved along. I placed myself in the corner of a field
and directed the men to continue moving towards me. As they reached
me I directed them to form a perimeter defence. Colonel Johnson
he approached me and asked if I had sent out a patrol to the locks.
I told him I had not and told him I was 506 and was headed to the
bridges. He told me the 506 didn’t make it and to move to
the locks. I disobeyed that order and passed the word around the
perimeter that when they saw us leaving that all 506 men should
As we moved it began to get brighter. We stopped
to blow a telephone pole and approach a farm house. The family was
glad to see us and told us where the bridges were located. The number
of men varied as we moved along. At first light I reached the bridges
and was told that Lt. Turner M. Chaubliss had just been killed in
action. The toughest part of that move was getting across the >
They were too wide to jump and just deep enough in the middle to
be over our heads. The worst part was that they were full of cow
pee. So with weapons held over out heads we crosses about three
of them. I checked in with Joe Doughty who told me he was the senior
officer from G Company to make it so far. IN G sector there only
about a dozen men. Barling kept entering a deserted tow story house
in attempt to spot the enemy in Brévands. He drew fire and
was lucky not to be hit. He was not so lucky in Holland.
Forward to 23rd of June
The 101st was deployed across the neck of Cherbourg peninsula in
preparation for the break out toward St. Lo. General Taylor gave
the order that he wanted one prisoner per day per battalion for
intelligence purposes. Live prisoners were needed for interrogation.
Joe Doughty was now Company commander. He ordered me to form a 15
men combat patrol to get some German prisoners. I choose Flint Brown
as NCO to help pick these men and gave them the briefing. There
was a crossroad to our front that was occupied by German soldiers.
Plans were made and at duck Sergeant Jean a driver, Sgt. Brown and
myself went by jeep (one from regiment) on recon. We went down a
dirt trail and decided we were in the wrong place. On returning
back along the same trail the jeep hit a landmine. When Sgt. Brown
who was in the backseat was blown out backwards. He was stunned
for a short period of time and when he came to he saw me with the
motor on my head and bleeding profusely. HE told me after the war
that he tried to lift the motor from my head but just could not
do it on his own. About that time Colonel Sink and several men heard
the blast and came to investigate. They were able to lift the motor
and get me to an aid station. I came to momentarily and asked Colonel
Sink if I was going to live. He said: “Kennedy this is a direct
order GET WELL!”
Colonel Sink told Brown to check into the aid
station also because he was covered in blood. After several days
Brown was awarded the Purple Heart. To this day he says he got the
Purple Heart with my blood. I came to the next time in a tent on
a cot and throwing up blood. Wanting water etc. I was evacuated
by a c-47 plane from a strip on the beach of close to the beach.
I was at the foot bridge early (07:00) on D-Day
and was wounded later in the campaign (June 23rd)
The episode with Colonel Johnson is not widely
known and is covered in Rendezvous with Destiny. Colonle Johnson
refered to me as an unknown Lt.
Lt. Thomas Kennedy.