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My father graduated from The Citadel as a Second Lieutenant in 1942.  Two weeks later he entered the army as America moved into World War II and began training at Camp Benning, Georgia.  Below is his written account of his first parachute jump as he prepared to fight in the Pacific.

It was still pitch dark that morning at Fort Benning, Georgia when I went into the mess hall to try to eat some breakfast.  My mouth and throat were dry, but I knew I had to eat something.  I couldn't make my first parachute jump on an empty stomach.  A fried egg between two slices of bread was all that I could manage and even that was hard to swallow.

This was the fourth week of Jump School - the week you put all of your previous ground training to work to culminate in actually jumping from an airplane.  

My fellow officers and I left the barracks area by truck and were taken to the hangar to draw our chutes - chutes that we had so carefully packed and were marked with our names.  We drew our chutes and I put on mine.  Strange that everything fit so well the day before and nothing seemed right now.  I adjusted my harness time and time again.  I smoked numerous cigarettes, went to the water cooler a dozen times, adjusted my harness again and looked to see if all of the snaps were fastened.  I forced myself to think about all the things my instructors had told me and remembered that the percent of casualties had been small.  Would I be one of the "few causalities?"

Suddenly the order came - and my heart jumped into my throat.  Twenty-four of us walked out on the field and watched the planes, loaded with jumpers, take off.  By now we were all trying to be nonchalant.  We sat on a bench three hours (45 minutes by the clock) while we watched the planes fly over the field, throttle down, unload their "passengers" and the parachutes float down.  What I wouldn't give for another drink of water.

An instructor said, "Stand up and count off."  I was number eleven in the first group.  There were to be two groups of twelve men each in my plane - making me the next to the last man in my group to jump.  Suddenly a plane taxied in and I knew it was my plane.  The time had arrived.  As I went in the door, I looked it over carefully for this was the door I would going through in a little while.  For the first time I took a look at the inside of a C-47 and received a shock.  I never realized that a plane could look so small in the air and be so enormous inside.  It is the same type of plane we will fly into combat.  The twin motors gunned for takeoff and the roar was deafening as we took off.

Then came the order, "Stand up and hook up."  Then the command, "Stand at the door."  We had been trained for weeks on how to stand up and hook up and how to stand at the door.  I realized now the necessity for the thorough training we had received.

Number one man stood at the door, number two man ready to pivot into the door and out.  Number three, four, five, etc. shuffle forward with their left foot forward, keeping their balance by holding on to the cable and static line.  I was eleventh man and the door seemed miles away.  My feet were so heavy that I couldn't pick them up so I shuffled toward the door.  My chute weighed (to me) 1100 pounds.  I kept saying to myself, over and over, "I've got to go out that door."  And then the command, "Go."  Suddenly, I was number three man; number two man had pivoted, he's in the door, he's gone - I threw my right foot down, I was in the door, I was gone -- into space.  I was yelling "One thousand, two thousand, three thousand and then -- CRASH -- a ton of bricks fell on my head -- no pain -- I was suspended 1000 feet above the ground -- too weak to do anything but hang there -- but I was happy.

Everything was quiet - not a sound.  It was beautiful.  Silent and still.  No experience, no thrill can ever compare with it.  I had no sensation of falling  - just suspended.

Then I realized I must work hard to make a good landing, so I could walk away.  I pulled down hard on my risers, as I had been taught, and let up slowly, to keep from oscillating.  Then suddenly the ground rose up and seemed to almost hit me in the face.  I remembered to tumble and then stood up - gloriously happy that I had done it.  I had actually jumped from an airplane.  I was now a Paratrooper.

I was a 22 year old Second Lieutenant when I made my first jump.  On my third jump over Fort Benning, my main chute malfunctioned and I fell over eight hundred feet before my reserve chute opened.  I jumped a total of twenty-five times, four of which were combat jumps in the South Pacific with the 11th Airborne Division.

The next step for my father was to join troops stationed in the Phillipines as a Parachute Artillery Officer with the 11th Airborne Division.  After participating in heavy combat missions, he won the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Ribbon and the Phillipine Liberation Ribbon.

Flying from Luzon to Okinawa, my father was on the second plane to arrive in Japan following the surrender. His company was quartered in a Japanese naval barracks.  The conditions were difficult with food in short supply and Japanese Marines housed within yards of the Americans.  However, the Japanese who met the plane were polite and cooperative.  Below are photographs that he took of some of the civilians that he met during his stay.


Career following World War II

Following the war, my father returned to Columbia joining the South Carolina Army National Guard in 1947.  He served as the Commanding Officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, SC Army National Guard until 1961.  The photo below shows him receiving the "Eisenhower Award" for the Detachment from Strom Thurmond.

In 1961 he was appointed U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer for the S.C. National Guard and re-entered active duty.  He held this position until he retired in 1976 when he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and National Guard Bureau Eagle Award.