Original U.S. WWII 82nd Airborne D-Day St Mère-Église Veteran Named Ike Jacket With M37 Wool Field Shirt & Overseas Cap - Bronze Star Recipient

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a wonderful example of an enlisted man’s Ike Jacket which also has the original M37 wool/flannel shirt as well as Garrison cover! This uniform grouping belonged to Versel Junior McCracken (ASN: 35564671), a Technical Sergeant who jumped into the Utah Beach / St Mère-Église area during the Normandy Invasion. He can be found here on the American D-Day website.

St Mère-Église and its surroundings are a strategic area along the national road connecting Cherbourg to Paris, at a junction between five departmental roads. On the night of 5th to 6th June 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division was experiencing difficulty in destroying the bridges on the river Douve and establishing a line of defense. The flooding of rivers was worse than expected. Sainte-Mere-Eglise was a key location in the line of defense along the road to Omaha Beach.

During the Normandy invasion, 30 paratroopers landed in the town of Sainte-Mère-Eglise , including 20 on the church square. German soldiers hurled into the attack and a battle raged on for two days. U.S. forces’ resistance was put to the test. The Allies were forced to defend many places simultaneously, including the bridges of la Fière and Chef-du-Pont. On 7th June at noon, reinforcement troops, who had landed on Utah Beach were there to clear St Mère-Église.

Sainte-Mère-Eglise holds annual commemorations in tribute to the liberators, including John Steele, the celebrated paratrooper who was hit by shrapnel shortly after he began his descent. He could not use his leg and landed on the church tower around 4.00 am. Beneath him, the battle was raging. John Steele spent two and a half hours hanging from the church steeple.

These marks of gratitude are omnipresent in the town. Many plaques and monuments have been erected in honor of the liberators, such as the zero milestone opposite the Town Hall, which symbolizes the starting point of the path to freedom. Every year, the town celebrates the anniversary of its liberation.

We have not been able to locate complete service record information for Versel McCracken, making this an incredible research opportunity! It’s not very often you come across an attributed 82nd Airborne Division D-Day veteran who jumped into Sainte-Mère-Eglise! You do not want to miss this opportunity.

The Eisenhower jacket or "Ike" jacket, officially known as the Jacket, Field, Wool, Olive Drab, is a type of waist-length jacket developed for the U.S. Army during the later stages of World War II and named after Dwight D. Eisenhower. Intended to be worn on its own or as an insulating layer beneath the M-1943 Field Jacket and over the standard wool flannel shirt and wool sweater, it featured a pleated back, adjustable waist band, fly-front buttons, bellows chest pockets, slash side pockets, and shoulder straps.

This lovely Ike jacket features an 82nd Airborne Division patch on the left shoulder. It was a popular practice to display your former unit on your right shoulder while wearing your current unit on the left. It was often a sign that you served overseas or in combat with that unit and you wanted to proudly display that on your uniform, a tradition still carried on today by the US Army. Soldiers who are combat veterans are authorized to permanently wear the patch of the unit they served with on their right shoulder. As there is only one unit patch present on this jacket, McCracken appears to have left the Army after having served with the 82nd Airborne during the war.

Both shoulders feature Technical Sergeant Chevrons, 4 overseas stripes are on the lower left cuff and denoting 2 years of overseas service. The most interesting part about the overseas stripes is that they are metal and appear to be British Wound Stripes! He more than likely picked these stripes up while in England to “jazz” his uniform up a bit before going home! A very beautiful feature! Below the Overseas Bars is a single Service Stripe. On the inside of the back lining towards the color, you will find McCracken written in Purple Laundry Marker, a common method in marking uniforms. This is not to be confused with the modern sharpie. The size tag still remains, indicating that the size of the jacket is a US 32 Small.

The collar devices are the standard discs for US and the infantry crossed rifles. The front left side displays a lovely Combat Infantry Badge as well as the following ribbons; Bronze Star, Army Good Conduct, Croix de Guerre, EAME W/ 4 Campaign Stars and 1 Bronze Arrowhead, WWII Victory and an American Campaign Medal. Above the ribbons is a lovely Parachutists Badge with 2 Stars indicating 2 combat jumps. The jump wings are on a lovely black and white oval for the 508th Paratrooper Infantry Regiment.

On the left shoulder is a lovely Fourragere with a Presidential Unit Citation above the right breast pocket. On the right shoulder is a beautiful Belgian Fourragere.

All items, including the Garrison Cover are in incredible, undamage condition. Also included in this grouping is a lovely hardcover book on the “HISTORY OF THE 508TH PARACHUTE INFANTRY” by William G. Lord and the Infantry Journal Press. The book is a first edition and was published in 1948. The book was dedicated “To the members of the regiment who fell and now remain on the battlefields of Europe”. The book features 5 parts on the Prelude To Combat, Normandy, Holland, The Ardennes and The Occupation.

This is a rare opportunity to add an incredible attributed uniform grouping which belonged to a Paratrooper in the famed 82nd Airborne Division.

Comes more than ready for further research and display!

82nd Airborne Division
The 82nd Airborne Division became the first airborne division on 15 August 1942. It had been reactivated on 25 March 1942 under the command of Major General Omar N. Bradley as the 82nd Division. They began their training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana.

World War II
In April 1943 the first paratroopers deployed to North Africa for the invasion of Italy. Under the command of Major General Matthew B. Ridgway, the 82nd Airborne's first assault jumps were into Sicily on 9 July and Salerno on 13 September 1943. The Sicily jump, made by the 505th PIR, was the first regiment sized combat paratroop jump ever performed by the US military.

The 504th PIR was detached from the 82d Airborne in January 1944 to fight at Anzio, Italy. The rest of the Division had been transferred to England in November to prepare for the Normandy Invasion.

The 82d Division parachuted into Normandy the night of June 5 and morning of 6 June 1944, beginning the D-Day Invasion. Many units were scattered across Normandy, missing their drop zones. It took days but units started coming together as the Allies secured the beachhead and began the Liberation of Europe.

In September, the 82nd also participated in Operation Market Garden, an ambitious drop in Holland calculated to ending the war quickly. The Division met their objectives at Nijmegen and Son, but the Bridge at Arnhem was not taken by other Allied Forces and the initiative lost. On 16, December 1944 the Germans launched their surprise offensive in the Ardennes Forest. This became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Within two days the 82d was in the fight on the northern side of the Bulge. Following the closing of the Bulge and the Allies returning to the offensive, the Division helped secure the Ruhr and had crossed the Elbe River. The 82nd Airborne had completed their World War II combat.

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