Original U.S. WWII Named 551st PIB M1942 Paratrooper Jacket - Silver Star Captain Archibald McPheeters

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Captain Archibald A. McPheeters was awarded the Silver Star during World War II.

Headquarters, 82d Airborne Division, General Orders No. 57 (October 29, 1944)
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Captain (Infantry) Archibald A. McPheeters (ASN: 0-391024), United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with Company I, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, in action against the enemy in Holland, on 18 September 1944.

The following article was published in THE OKLAHOMAN on February 4, 1945, Page 40:
Captain McPheeters complete devotion to the safety of his men, beyond the importance of his own safety, is in keeping with the highest traditions of the service."

Thus the closing sentence of a citation, awarding the Silver Star "for gallantry in action", strikes the keynote of the entire four years' service of Capt. Archibald A. McPheeters, of the paratroop infantry.

Capt. McPheeters commanded a battalion of the famous 82nd airborne division which helped prepare the path for the oncoming infantry on D-day in Normandy.

He jumped with his men on Holland in the daring days of last September when the "Eighty-second" flew to the relief of trapped British troops at Arnhem. He was back in the gallant fight in Belgium when the great German counter-attack bent back the allied lines on the German border.

But it isn't the jumping and fighting, the organizing and the firing of guns, that tell about Archibald McPheeters. It's the little things---the letters written to Mrs. McPheeters at their home on Northeast Park. Letters from the fellows in his command, their wives, and even their girl friends, telling her that young paratroopers loved and trusted this man---who took all their own risks---first.

In late November, McPheeters wrote to his wife and small Archilbald McPheeters III, telling them to eat five extra helpings of turkey for him because "any resemblance between 'C' ration and food is purely coincidental"---and 'C' ration loomed ahead for his Thanksgiving.

"As you know, any place I go I have fun," the letter went on "and this has been both fun and pleasure, but it is beginning to get old. The only pleasure that I get now is to try to snag off a wandering Jerry patrol as we did about a week ago...And the only thing that I can get you for Christmas is a little thing the big boy gave me last week. Shopping at present is more or less difficult."

The "little thing" from the "big boy" turned out to be a Silver Star, earned with "the airborne" in Holland---on a dangerous and difficult shopping tour, indeed.

Its story is given in the citation which tells how Capt. McPheeters, accompanied by four of his men, started out on a dawn inspection tour of his right flank road block which was emplaced within 400 yards of the German boundary of the Reichwald, an enemy stronghold.

During the course of inspection the captain became aware of the presence of a German combat patrol of 12 men, which during the hours of darkness, had penetrated his lines. From a point 1,500 yards behind the road block, the enemy was preparing to attack.

Captain McPheeters immediately ordered his four men to scatter for better cover, and although armed only with a pistol and in an extremely exposed position, he opened fire on the enemy.

By aggressive, rapid fire and movement, and in spite of heavy enemy fire from rifles and two automatic weapons, he then advanced to within 50 yards of the enemy, dispersing them in confusion, wounding two of their non-commissioned officers and taking three prisoners.

The citation reads: "Without Capt. McPheeters' cool aggressive action and outstanding gallantry, in closing with a heavily armed enemy of superior numbers whose presence seriously jeopardized a key point in the defense of the entire Groesbeck sector, severe casualties would have resulted."

Now, further word has come from the war department to the home at 724 Northeast Park, where Mrs. McPheeters waits with their 2 year-old son. It is a brief wire, telling simply that on January 3 (two days after his twenty-seventh birthday) Capt. McPheeters fell in gallant action---still thinking first of his men.

The captain attended Classen high school and graduated from A&M college, just before enlistment in 1940. His mother, Mrs. A. A. McPheeters Sr., now makes her home in Cincinnati.
Captain Archibald Allen McPheeters, Jr
ASN: 0-391024
Birth: 1 Jan 1918, Rice, Benton County, Minnesota, USA
Death: 3 Jan 1945 (aged 27) in Belgium
Burial: Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot SECTION 12 SITE 3132
Memorial ID 85201631

Officially known as Coat, Parachute Jumper this example offered in excellent condition has all original snaps, belt, and a fully functional TALON zipper. It is in the correct M42 color Olive Drab #3. The coat consists of four front patch 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. Inside this pocket the original color can be seen.

Due to the somewhat fragile nature of the uniform, the M42 was often reinforced with thicker, tougher canvas on the elbows, crotch and knees. However, this example was never reinforced. The M42 was mostly worn by Paratroops assigned to Airborne units. The M42 was eventually phased out in favor of the M1943 Uniform which was a darker green, OD #7. Despite this, various individuals chose to keep their M42s in order to show their veteran status. This example was clearly worn in service for an extended period. There are multiple repairs to stitching and wear throughout.

This fine example is of the earliest style, in excellent condition and features an original 82nd Airborne Division "All American" shoulder patch, as well as an American Flag patch on right shoulder. The interior of the neck is marked in ink 0-391024 McPheeters.

Included with purchase are multiple pages of copied research and documentation.

The 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion (551st PIB) was, for many years, a little-recognized airborne forces unit of the United States Army, raised during World War II, that fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Originally commissioned to take the French Caribbean island of Martinique, they were shipped instead to Western Europe. With an initial strength of 800 officers and enlisted men, the remaining 250 members of the Battalion were ordered on 7 January 1945 to attack the Belgian village of Rochelinval over open ground and without artillery support. During the successful assault the unit lost more than half its remaining men. The Battalion was inactivated on 27 January 1945 and the remaining 110 survivors were absorbed into the 82nd Airborne Division. Virtually nothing of the unit's history was known to the American public until the 1990s when renewed interest prompted its veterans to seek recognition for their costly success at Rochelinval. The battalion was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation in 2001 recognizing its accomplishment.

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