Original U.S. WWII 502nd PIR 101st Airborne M42 Paratrooper Jump Jacket - Size 36R

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This an original M1942 Airborne Jump jacket in Olive Drab #3 offered is in excellent used condition. The most notable aspects of the jacket are the original 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment oval on the left chest with correct wartime stitching, Sterling Silver Parachute pin back Jump Wings by Robbins, and a 101st Airborne Division patch on the left shoulder also with correct wartime stitching.

The coat consists of four front pockets with two button snaps on each, along with a unique dual-zippered knife pocket located on the upper lapel which was designed to contain a switchblade pocketknife, used to cut the parachute rigging if entangled. The top two pockets were also angled inward to make items easier to retrieve with the opposite hand. The left shoulder bears an original 101st Airborne patch.

The jacket is in excellent condition, with the expected minor stains and small pulls from service. There are no tears or fraying, and it is totally solid, with a great color that has not seen excess fading, as so many have. Zipper is fully functional and original to the jacket. The jacket is marked in stamped ink (faded) at the neck with laundry number l-4066 which are the last four digits of the soldier's Army Serial Number along with the first letter of his last name. Size is ink stamped 36R.

Overall a wonderful original patched jacket from one of the most famous regiments that fought in the Second World War. 502nd PIR material is extremely hard to find making this rare opportunity to have something from the real "Band of Brothers".

The 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment jumped in advance of the Normandy invasion in the early hours of June 6th, 1944. Flying out of Membury and Greenham Common air bases in the first wave to depart, the 502nd PIR headed for Drop Zone A. The Deuce's mission was to secure two northern causeways leading inland from Utah Beach and destroy a German battery of 122mm howitzers near Ste Martin-de-Varreville. Captain Frank Lillyman, officer in charge of the regiment's pathfinder platoon, was the first American jumper of the night - celebrated as the first American paratrooper to drop behind German lines in the Allied invasion of Normandy. He hit the ground at fifteen minutes after midnight on the 6th, his habitual jump cigar clenched in his teeth. The pathfinders soon learned they'd been misdropped, so they made no effort to get the rest of the regiment lost with them and left their radios and beacons turned off. Coming in unguided in an age before GPS, the formations of C-47's broke up in a combination of low clouds and heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire. Some planeloads, including two sticks of A Company, were dropped over the English Channel and drowned. Consequently, most of Colonel Moseley's troops landed way off their designated DZs, up to five miles away. Colonel Moseley badly broke his leg and had to relinquish command to his XO, LTC John H. "Iron Mike" Michaelis.

1st Battalion, under LTC Patrick "Hopalong" Cassidy, was the only battalion of the entire 101st to come down on target, and that through blind luck. 1st Battalion secured Saint Martin-de-Varreville by 0630, sent a patrol under SSG Harrison C. Summers to seize a German barracks at Mésières, "XYZ" objective, and set up a thin line of defense from Fourcarville to Beuzeville.

2nd Battalion, under the taciturn LTC "Silent Steve" Chappuis, moved inland from its drop zones.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Battalion led by LTC Robert G. Cole was responsible for securing the two causeways coming inland from Utah Beach. Undaunted by the confusion, LTC Cole gradually collected whatever men he could find both from his unit and anyone else's (at one point including 1LT Dick Winters of E/506th). Cole eventually achieved his objective in time to secure the beach landing of the 4th Infantry Division.

LTC Cole was in the lead five days later as the 502nd was part of the division's effort to capture the town of Carentan. Moving the 3rd Battalion down the causeway toward the Ingouf farm under heavy German fire, LTC Cole ordered a bayonet charge. Capturing the objective, LTC Cole was nominated for the Medal of Honor. His XO, Major John Stopka, was nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross. On 29 June the 101st was relieved from the VIII Corps and sent to Cherbourg to relieve the 4th Infantry Division elements who had the German garrison pinned down in that seaport city. The 502nd PIR returned to England shortly thereafter for refitting, earning a Presidential Unit Citation for the campaign.

The summer of refitting was punctuated by several planned combat jumps to capture objectives in front of the advancing Allied ground forces, yet every jump was cancelled as the tanks got there first.
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