American 101rst Airborne- a legend of past, present and future!

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Started like a small regional conflict, the World War II, shortly become a global military conflict, in which, one by one, according to their pacts and alliances, world’s powerful countries (and not only them) putted their citizen, soldiers lives and properties into the most (yet) damaged and devastating war in the humankind history.

It began in 1939 as a European conflict between Germany and England- France-Poland alliance and one by one included all countries. Ended in 1945, leaving a new world order in which the great powers of USA and USSR split the Globe into domination’s spheres.

Beyond dictators, criminals, genocide, (Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were considered the most brutal dictators in history), this war showed human compassion, strange alliances, but above all, showed that heroes really exists. If Adolf Hitler managed to turn Germany into a modern fighting machine, US gave to the world the heroes’ division of 101rst Airborne, which battled in many important WWII fights, starting from Normandy to Ardennes.

Much like the WWI, World War II involved almost all nations of the world and their economic, social and financially resources, but what counted the most where the human resources, that were the factor who balanced the war. It was also unique in the modern world history, because military forces (especially German and their allies) attacked civilians, killing masses of Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals. His massive importance involved countries capacity of industry and labor, created in his last phase, two important massive destruction weapons (the long-range missile and atomic bomb), developed the airplanes and tanks industry.

Also bring new things into history like the appearance of racism, fascism, had many failures of attempts to restore peace and the German aggression in Europe brought together two of the biggest world competitors into a strange coalition formation (if look to the world political relationship between USA and actual Russia ex URSS).

Even that history likes to get almost data regarding these kinds of events, (directly or indirectly they were killed about 60 million people, soldiers and civilians, and in addition, many other people were seriously injured or mutilated, were given lifetime disability due to firearms, classic or nuclear bombing, military and medical experiences or because they were subjected to inhuman actions), still there are facts which remained forever in the humanity memory.

Known for their family actions during the WWII, the four Niland brothers born in state of New York (Edward, Preston, Robert and Fredrick) were part of the U.S. Army during the battles of WWII. The big brother Edward was one great technical and radio operator and also gunner sergeant part of the 101rst Airborne Division (was reported missing in action after the plane he was in was shot down in Burma zone). The second one, Preston was a lieutenant in the 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach in Normandy and killed in the next day fight. The third one was Robert, a technical sergeant in the Airborne Infantry Regiment 505 company D of the Airborne Division 82, whose brave actions in the battle of Neuville -au- Plaine on the north hamlet of Sainte -Mere – Eglise when he and a few American paratroopers comrades rejected an German offensive counter attack offered as volunteered to cover the withdrawal of others brothers in arms.

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Even that the others managed to escape, he was killed, but his actions were the sign of new reborn American offensive. The last of the four brothers, Frederick was a sergeant in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne, the legendary American Division which exist today, as a remember sign of the WWII soldiers. He has landed on Normandy, he fight along with their brothers in arms in battles along of the Europeans lands, searching for their brothers and becoming the image of the stubborn soldier who wants to fight to the end, guided by the desire to get home with loved ones. Hearing about the death of three brothers and deeply impressed by this particular case, Frederick was discharged from the Normandy front and returned to the U.S. to complete his military service there.

Only after the war he learned that his brother Edward, presumed dead, was actually captured by the Japanese.

Like these brothers also other destinies and fate like the five O’Sullivan brothers, come to complete de hardness on war and the destiny cruelty.

How many brave soldiers from the 101rst Airborne does remain undergrounded on foreign lands, buried in different places as unknown soldiers?

In the “Z-Day”, the Western Allies landed in Normandy, which was under a permanent German surveillance, through a bore amphibious assault at dawn. The first forces paratroopers attacked were 101rst Airborne American Division, along with the Canadian and British paratroopers, who opened with bodies a new front for the Allies. The Allies suffered one of the heaviest casualties in their history during the landing on the Normandy beaches. The German artillery batteries killed as much they could into a disproportionate battle; from their higher positions from where they had the control of the beaches until they shoot with their machine guns and big guns and rocket launchers the Allied paratroopers. Next day, when the bravery American’s soldiers began their advancing into the Normandy territories, have left behind them a great field of people-dead, both of their own, and enemies. The battles were very bloody, and many hedges land benefiting German defense. A successful attack was carried out at Saint- Lo, the main German force in France, Seventh Army, was almost completely destroyed in these battles. Meanwhile, during the Dragon Operation, the allied armies stationed in Italy invaded, on August 15, the French Riviera and set the junction with the forces in Normandy. The French resistance uprising against the Germans unleashed in Paris on August 19 and helped the allied troops to take up the city on August 25, 1944 received the surrender of the Germans and liberated the city.

The Allied paratroopers where 101rst Division was stationed were trying to advance towards Germany, triggering one of the vaster history operation, called  Market Garden in September, but they were unsuccessful even that fought like lions. The logistical problems began to slow down the Allied advancing rate, since the ends of their supply lines were still on the beaches of Normandy.

Along with the fellow Canadian Army’s, the 101rst Airborne Division contributed to the first decisive victory, in the Battle of the Scheldt, conquered then and successfully defending the port of Antwerp; by doing that they had assured a flow corresponding supply to the Allies at the end of November 1944.

Hitler declared on December 10, 1944 that nor even death can’t stop his armies to counter attack into a ruthless and merciless offensive in which he tried to turn back the tide of war. With a huge force, The 68 German Divisions started an offensive attack that actually was a wave of terror which banished any resistance with his terror force. Across the Western Front, OKW’s planned their participation in the attack in the Ardennes with 29 German divisions, including 12 armored against the eight divisions, one armored, the composition V and VIII Corps U.S. Lightning attack German troops having as main objective the conquer of Antwerp and Brussels surprised the Allies. Their generals initially thought that it was a diversionary attack, but the news began to flow very quickly announced that in the Ardennes front, the front was splinted up and cut in two. The Allies loses where devastating; whole regiments of the U.S. Army encircled by German units, unalterably escape, lack of arms and ammunition, missing soldiers, 10,000 American soldiers captured by the Germans opened the way to the Meuse to the German units.

The disaster was total, and the spectrum of a re German campaign over Paris was again on the market. Battle of Bastogne is one of the toughest episodes of the Battle of the Ardennes, which took place on Christmas of 1944. The heroism of American soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division remained in legend and in the history of wars. Dealing in Bastogne will begin on 17 December 1944 at 13.20, when the” B” battle group of 10 Division armored American who was in the Saar, begin to move towards the Franco- Luxembourg border, where it will remain on hold. However, the U.S. 101st Airborne Division is alarmed at 20.30 and received the travel order to Bastogne. In the morning of December 18, 1944, Colonel Roberts, the group’s “B” commander fighting receives the order to block the three access roads to Bastogne, Vanguard 101st Airborne, 501 Parachute Regiment representing the U.S. Army, reached Bastogne on the evening of December 18, 1944 , at 22.30. An anti-tank battalion, was ordered at 18.00 to move towards Bastogne, where they reached after numerous adventures, until the next day, December 19, 1944 , at 20:30. On the evening of December 18, 1944, elements of the advanced 2nd tanks German Division reached the point and changing direction of travel on northwest to get started the encircling operation of U.S. troops in Bastogne. The “Panzer Lehr” Division and it arrives in the village of Bastogne and hurry to finishing the encirclement.

The Germans managed to have major success at the beginning, against the Americans stationed in the Ardennes. Allied forces, unprepared for such an unexpected attack, suffered heavy losses. In the early days of the attack, the Germans enjoyed the advantage unfavorable conditions allied aviation flight bound to remain on the ground. Finally, directing allied aviation weather allowed into battle, to capitalize on air supremacy, the Germans failed to capture Bastogne. Arrival of the Third Army of General George S. Patton to put an end to the German attack, forced to retreat back into the country. At this time, the Soviets had reached the eastern borders of Germany before the war .

By this time , the Soviet offensive had become so strong that some historians argue that American-British landing in Normandy was made rather to prevent the formation of the Soviet bloc to the shore of the Atlantic, than to fight against Germany. In total, 80 % of German losses were caused by the fighting on the Eastern Front, Europe was divided along a line passing through Germany and Austria. Nowadays, there is a widespread opinion that if the Western Allies had not attacked Normandy, Western Front weaker defended Stalin had managed to gain control of the whole Europe.

 

In every war there was a day when one of the parties began to win and the other began losing on all fronts. For Allies that day was the day when soldiers from the 101rst Airborne Division started to believe in themselves and in their wining power.

The military collapse of Nazi Germany during the World War began on June 6, 1944, known by the name of Z-Day, when Allied forces crossed the English Channel and Normandy and put a decisive stamp the subsequent conduct of military confrontations.

The Day Z held the largest sea invasion in history. Some 200,000 Allied soldiers on board the over 7,000 ships and 3,000 aircraft landed in Normandy, where they met strong German defensive arranged along more than 80 miles from the French coast .

After several days of bloody clashes, the Allied troops captured several strategic points of utmost importance.

By the end of June, the Allies controlled Normandy, and on August 25, Paris was liberated by the French resistance with the French Forces of the Interior Division and 4th U.S. Infantry.

In September, the Allies launched another major offensive (Operation Market Garden), the largest air operation at that time, when hundreds of hundreds of Allied soldiers were parachuted into Holland.

However, Allied troops on the ground have failed to maintain their positions and defend the bridges across the River Rhine.

Despite the temporary withdrawal by the end of 1944, the Allies successfully established, a western front and prepared to move to Germany, which has finally capitulated.

 

In each points of these Allies victories lies life of 101rst airborne brave soldiers; with their precious blood defended every won position, step by step, grass by grass.

Their feats will never be forgotten, as these days, they are still present in the US Army as an Honor Legion, kept to show to the humanity that heroes will never die. Because heroes are forever!