• Tribute to PFC Gilbert W DILL (ASN 42080857) – Cie HQI – 1st Battalion / 513th PIR (April 02, 1918 – September 15, 2012)


    Gilbert W DILL just after his enlistment in the Army, circa December 1943 - early 1944


    Gilbert William DILL was born on April 02, 1918 and lived in 409 Madison Street, Wilmington, Newcastle, Delaware. He worked for Newcastle Defense Plant since June 1940 (he supervised production line with seventy-five operators of 5’’ anti-aircraft shells) when he was inducted in the Army on December 10, 1943. In doing so, he leaved his young wife and child for Uncle Sam. He received the Army Serial Number (ASN) 42080857 and was immediately volunteer for the new Airborne corps. He realized his Basic training (during 4 ½ months) and became rifleman before being qualified heavy mortar (81mm) crewman. He finally joined the parachute school with success and earned his famous Wings.


    Gilbert with his young child. As you can see on this uniform and overseas cap, he was qualified paratrooper at this time (circa summer 1944) 


    A fellow paratrooper during summer 1944 ? The man wears the Airborne Command shoulder sleeve insignia


    He was reversed in the parachute reserve pool before being sent in England in November 1944 (he made the travel aboard the RMS Queen Mary) where he was assigned to the Heavy Weapons Platoon of the HQI Cie – 513th PIR just prior to the battle of the Bulge.

    Gilbert followed the division from Chiseldon (England) to Belgium Ardennes where he was involved in the terrible battle of “Dead Man’s Ridge” where the First Battalion suffered heavy casualties, Châlons-sur-Marne, Varsity and finally Germany. He was credited from Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns.



    On March 24, 1945, he participated to the biggest airborne invasion of the war and took off from Achiet (airport B-54), France in a new Douglas C46-D numbered 44-77581 from the 47th Troop Carrier Squadron, 313th Troop Carrier Group, IXth Troop Carrier Command. 1st Lt Bert Leroy BLENDINGER piloted the plane. The other crewmembers were 2nd Lt Robert Maurice WEISER (co-pilot), T/Sgt Edward James GARDNER (Aerial Engineer) and Sgt Emmett Leroy Wolfe (Radio Operator). 2nd Lt Charles A HIGGINS Jr (photographer for the Signal Corps) was also on board. Gilbert’s stick was composed with 1st Lt Ray F LANEY (O-1321218), Pfc Emmitt D VEAL (34358356), T/3 Harold D AUSTIN (17049291), Cpl Virgil E MILLER (39705850), Pfc George M KRAMER (39218215), S/Sgt Joel R ADKINS (38382655), Pfc Robert L HARMS (36442089), Pfc Orville D HULSE (34886557), Pfc Henry E JACOBS (36771988), Pfc John R CHANEY Jr (33845766), Pvt Jack CANTRELL (34683853), S/Sgt Robert E STEANSON (38471271), T/Sgt James C COX (38405044), Pfc Richard R GAULDING (38270703), Pvt Paul W LEE Jr (34950690), Cpl Blaine K TRATE (33828467), Cpl Charles B AVERYT (38471603), Pfc James F HOLMES (36756783), Pvt George D FORAN (34948455), Pfc Benjamin H SWEET (36951154), Pvt Gilbert W DILL (42080857), Pvt James R GIVENS (35927888), Cpl Vernon DICKERSON (34630295), S/SGT Nelson A GUTTRIDGE (39337458) and T/5 James R JOHNSON (36571084).

    Soon after the dropping on Drop zone X, north west of Wesel, the plane was hit by heavy German fires and crashed. Only T/Sgt GARDNER survived.


    This picture taken in Mourmelon prior Varsity show new C46-D of the 47th Troop Carrier Squadron during training (unpublished pic - TFH collection)


    After VE Day and occupation duty in Germany with the 17th AB, Gilbert was probably transferred to the 517th PIR/13th Airborne Division as he returned in the States and arrived in New York on August 20, 1945 aboard the SS Madawska Victory (the ship has leaved Le Havre, France on August, 12). He was discharged on December 23, 1945 at Fort Dix, NJ after two years and thirteen days of service (whose ten months overseas).


     Picture realized in France, June 26, 1945 while the division was located in the area of Vittel


     This picture realized at the same place shows two anonymous friends of the 513th PIR







      These four last pictures were probably realized in Germany, after the VE Day. They show anonymous buddies of the 513th PIR. Anybody knows these guys ?



    Pfc Gilbert W DILL was awarded from Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, African, European and Middle Eastern Campaigns Medal with 3 bronze Stars (and one Arrowhead?), Bronze Star Medal (reason and location unknown), WWII Victory Medal.

    He was qualified parachutist and received Parachute qualification badge (wings), Expert Marksman qualification badge with Mortar and Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB).

    This member of the “Greatest Generation” passed away on September 15, 2012.


    This Tribute has been realized with the precious help and kindness of Mark DILL, son of Gilbert. All pics are published with courtesy of Mark.


    It will be later classified in the "513th PIR Tribute" chapter. 

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  • Tribute to T/4 George Paterson SANDISON (ASN 35135645)

    Battery A / 680 GFAB



    George P. Sandison was born in East. Cleveland, Ohio on June 25, 1911 and grew up at 1181 North. Lockwood St. East. Cleveland, Ohio.

    He received his induction order on March 10, 1942 and entered in active service at Fort Thomas, Kentucky on March 23, 1942.


    Induction order received by George Sandison on March 10, 1942.


    Then he was sent to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana on March 25, 1942 and was assigned to the HQ & HQ Battery / 321st Field Artillery Battalion who became the 321st Glider Field Artillery Battalion on October 14, 1942. His unit was first attached to the 82nd Airborne Division. Then in the Fall of 1942 he went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

    In early 1943, he was choosing to be member of the cadre for the future 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion and was sent at Camp MacKall, North Carolina. The new artillery unit was created on March 10, 1943 and activated on April 15, under the command of Major Paul F Oswald. He formed up with the 17th and received his Gliderman qualification on January 9, 1944.


     George P Sandison at Camp MacKall, circa March 1943 to February 1944



    Gliderman qualification certificate received by George on January 9, 1944 after having completed his advanced training at Camp MacKall.


    Another picture of George with an anonymous buddy. It was really at Camp MacKall or Camp Forrest according the uniforms. Of interest, note the the marking on the jeep's bumper.


    After that, the 17th Airborne was involved in the Tennessee maneuver then joined Camp Forrest, Tennessee on March 1944.

    George followed his division in England and participated to the battle of the bulge. He also participated to operation Varsity but was wounded in action in the area of Oberhausen on April 14, 1945 by grenade's shrapnel that hit his hip. He was sent in Paris, to the  be treated in the 203rd General Hospital, a huge hospital of more than 3500 beds.

    Copy of the telegram received by the mother of George after he was wound in Germany.


    He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal on April 22, 1945 for this wound and stay in hospital for a month.

    Two views of the 203rd General Hospital located in Garches, in the vicinity of Paris, circa september 1944 to May 1945.


    Copy of Purple Heart Medal awarded.


    After the VE Day, the 17th Airborne Division served in occupation in Germany till July when it was send in France, in the area of Vittel.

    Battery A / 680th GFAB in Neufchateau (France), summer 1945. George is on the upper row, third from the left.


    George was then transferred to 82nd Airborne Division and finally return home on November 30, 1945. He arrived in country on December 18 and was discharged on December 22 at Indiantown (Gap Milt. Res. Penna.) after 45 month of duty.

    George in Germany, summer 1945, after being transferred in the 82nd Airborne Division.


     Honorable Discharge of George dated December 22, 1945.


    George participated to the Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe campaigns.

    He was awarded M1 Rifle .30 cal qualification, Gliderman qualification, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart Medal, American Theater Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three bronze stars and one bronze arrowhead and Victory Medal.

    He was part of the Allied forces who liberated Europe again oppression and tyranny. He was member of the Greatest Generation ! He will be never forget !

    George died in February 1985.


    This Tribute has been realized with the precious help of Jeanne Sandison, daughter of George. Many thanks for her help and kindness.

    It will be later classified in the "680th GFAB Tribute" chapter.

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  • In this chapter, you'll find anonymous 17th Airborne troopers who need an identification. All help will be greatly appreciated !




    Who know this 17th Airborne trooper ? 

    This picture comes from an unidentified 17th Airborne photo album (may be 194th GIR). It was realized in Germany, at the end of the war in Europe. May be somebody will can give me info on this man ?




    Who know this 17th Airborne trooper ? 

    This picture comes from an unidentified 17th Airborne photo album but I am sure the man was member of the 513th PIR. It was realized in a boat, most probably during the return to States, after the end of the war in Europe. All info on this man will be greatly appreciate !




    Who know this trooper ? 

    I have recently acquired two pictures from this soldier who seemingly was member of the 507th PIR. The only info writing on the pic is "Eddie WELCH". After having made some researches, I have found a Edmund E WELCH in the 17th Airborne Roster (507th PIR) but I am not able to confirm it is the same man. All info on this man will be greatly appreciate ! 




    Who know "Bob" ? 

    I have a little grouping belonging to this guy. On each pic available, the surname "Bob" is writing  On another one, a man called Lawrence BEERMAN strikes a pose. BEERMAN was member of the HQ II Company / 507th PIR so I guess he was a friend from the same company. Anybody know him ? Once again, all info on this man will be greatly appreciate !

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  • Tribute to Pfc Charles F FOULON (ASN 39336844)

    1st Platoon, C Company / 513th PIR



    Narrative of PFC Charles Fred Foulon. 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Bataillon. 513 PIR. 17th Airborne division at age 91 as told to his son Robert.

    I was born on a farm in Paul Idaho and we moved to Klamath Falls Oregon when I was about 8 years old. I was drafted into the army in 1943 the summer after my junior year of high school.  I was sent to Fort Benning where I was originally signed up for the truck driver corps but I volunteered to join the paratroopers because I’d heard their pay grade was higher.

    We were in reserve and stationed in England and right before Christmas of 1944 were ordered to gear up for a parachute drop into the Ardennes. We were all rigged up for jump.  But on our way they decided the weather was too bad at the drop zone so we were diverted to Reims France where we were trucked to the Ardennes and then we marched day and all night for several days.  French farmers would come to us with bottles of cognac as we marched toward the front lines. They were happy to see us. But German planes were strafing our line and we had to jump off the road into ditches when then came thru. 

    German prisoners were being marched past us…they were mostly old men and young boys.  They looked almost happy that they were getting out of the battle and the cold. 

    We waited in the forest until daylight. I remember screaming meemies hitting the trees above our foxholes during the night.  

    We were told we had to cross a clearing/farm field/meadow to secure a farm. My M-1 rifle was frozen and wouldn’t fire. So they told us to fix bayonets and stuff our pockets with grenades. It was 10 degrees and there was about a foot of snow on the ground. My boots and socks were wet and we didn’t have coats. 

    When it was time to attack my sergeant said “Foulon you take point”. I don’t know why he picked me but maybe it was because I was a replacement and maybe it’s because I had told him I’d been on the track team in high school and was fast. He made the sign of the cross before leaving the foxhole and the two of us headed out across the meadow. Halfway across the field he was shot in the head and killed. I just kept going. When I got across to the farm I started to clear out fox holes for booby traps with my grenades. 

    I remember smoldering and burning tanks and dead soldiers in the snow banks.  

    At some point in the battle I went into the aid station they’d set up (a barn) to get my left arm checked because I couldn’t lift it. They checked me and said it was a flesh wound but nothing broken and to get back out into the action.

    I remember walking out of the aid station when another shell hit. Lieutenant Grady was right next to me and we were both hit. He got it really bad and I was thrown into a pile of bricks from a wall that had collapsed. I said…this is it…I think my left arm is gone. The medics checked me and told me to walk back up the road into the forest. I said I couldn’t walk, that my left knee was hit too.  So they put me on the meat wagon that was getting ready to leave. It was a jeep that was rigged to carry the wounded  out of the battle zone and the medic said it was the last one going out. But there was no room for me so they asked me if I could hold on to the hood and I said yes I could and so they put me on the front bumper and I held on with my one good arm. I remember someone said “you are one lucky son of a bitch…you are going home” . They drove about 5 us loaded on the jeep back into the woods and we eventually found an ambulance. I don’t remember anything after that since they gave me morphine.


     This exceptional aerial view was realized on December 26, 1944. It shows the National 4 road and the hamlet of Cochleval (in the middle of the arrows !). I have reconstituted the american and german movements during the battle of January 4, 1945 (private collection picture and TFH map - click to enlarge).


    I woke up in a hospital in somewhere in Belgium. I was later moved to another hospital and put in traction. Then I was moved to a hospital in England. I was in European hospitals for about 4 months.  I was put on a hospital ship  in Avonmouth (Bristol), England on April 1st 1945- the USS St-Mihiel that arrived in Charleston SC on April 14th,1945-  the day  after my 21st birthday and the same day as president Roosevelt’s funeral. We were in the Bahamas when the president died. So there was no one there in Charlston to greet the hospital ships like there usually was. I was allowed to make one phone call and I called my mother back home in Oregon (Grace Foulon) to tell her I was back. Then I was put on a train to Madigan Army Hospital where I recovered and got my high school degree.  I’ve only been drunk twice in my life…once right before we were deployed (I figured I wasn’t coming back) and once in the hospital on VJ day when the war ended. I had champagne. I returned home in February of 1946. My mother died shortly after in April 1946.  I took advantage of the GI bill and went to college and became an architect and civil engineering professor.  I then met and married the first girl I ever kissed and we had two children, 5 grandchildren and one great grandchild. 

    A couple years after the war a buddy (Leroy ‘Rusty’ Kryer) who was from Portland called me and said  “I heard they evacuated you out of there….what you probably never heard was that right after you were taken out the farm was re-captured by the Germans and those of us that survived were all taken prisoner” .


    Note : Charles arrived in Cochleval in the morning (around 09h00 or 10 AM) and repulsed the German counter attacks until he was badly wounded around 14h00. At 15h00, Major Rosen gave the order to stop fighting after being threatened that the German tanks would destroy the aid station and kill all the remaining wounded. At this time, the main part of B and C companies (400 out of 500) paratroopers had already been killed or wounded . 



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  • Armond G WILSON (ASN 39167099) - 464th PFAB



    Armond G WILSON was born on October 29, 1917 in the North Dakota. He grow up in San Bernardino County, California and was inducted in the United States Army at Los Angeles on October 22, 1941. He received ASN 39167099. I don't know when he exactly joined the Airborne forces but he was finally assigned to the 464th PFAB and joined the 17th Airborne Division with his unit on March 1945 just before operation Varsity.

    Mr Wilson passed away on April 04, 2003 and is buried at Montecito Memorial Park, Colton CA with his wife Margaret.



    I am fortunate to have in my collection few artifacts that belonged to Mister Wilson, reason why I have realized some researches and writted this Tribute.

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