Friday, June 05, 2015

June 6, 1944: Sainte-Mère-Église

71 years ago, French time, my father was preparing to jump into Sainte-Mère-Église in Nazi-occupied France with the 82nd Airborne Division, 505th Parachute Infantry Division, F Company.  

Wikipedia reports:
The 82nd Airborne's drop, mission "Boston", began at 01:51. It was also a lift of 10 serials organized in three waves, totaling 6,420 paratroopers carried by 369 C-47s. The C-47s carrying the 505th did not experience the difficulties that had plagued the 101st's drops. Pathfinders on DZ O turned on their Eureka beacons as the first 82nd serial crossed the initial point and lighted holophane markers on all three battalion assembly areas. As a result the 505th enjoyed the most accurate of the D-Day drops, half the regiment dropping on or within a mile of its DZ, and 75 per cent within 2 miles (3.2 km).

Another website states: "The paratroopers jumped prior to the actual start of the invasion "H-Hour". Because of the tradition of being the first into the fight, the 505th Regimental motto is "H-MINUS". For their performance in the invasions the 505th was awarded the Presidential unit citation, the unit equivalent of the Medal of Honor awarded to individual soldiers. In the words of author Clay Blair, the paratroopers emerged from Normandy with the reputation of being a pack of jackals; the toughest, most resourceful and bloodthirsty in Europe."

71 years ago, my dad was jumping into Sainte-Mère-Église in Nazi-occupied France with 11,000 other American paratroopers; he was a non-com with 82nd ABN DIVN, 505th PIR, F Company and landed on a roof by a French farmhouse. The farmer offered him refuge, thinking dad was a pilot who had been shot down. Dad thanked the farmer, but declined, saying "No, I have to go fight" the Nazis. The Southern New Jersey Chapter of the 82nd ABN DIVN ASSN is named for my dad, the "CPL EDWARD A. SLAVIN Chapter." 

I sometimes wear dad's "CPL EDWARD A. SLAVIN Chapter" jacket to events, including occasions when our City of St. Augustine is violating human and civil rights. 

In his spirit, we band of brothers and sisters in St. Augustine have repeatedly defeated the forces of oppression more than 33 times since 2005.  In his spirit, we wear oppressors' scorn as a badge of honor.

In the words of the weather prayer written by a Roman Catholic priest for Third Army General George S. Patton, Jr. before the Battle of Bastogne:  "Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations."

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