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A MONUMENT FOR THE 501 PIR OF THE 101 ST AIRBORNE DIVISION FOR THEIR EFFORTS DURING THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE.
THIS FUNDRAISER IS FOR THE MONUMENT PROJECT FOR THE 501 PIR “GERONIMO” !! READ THIS AND BECOME A SUPPORTER!
The 501st Airborne Infantry Regiment, previously the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (501st PIR) and later 501st Infantry Regiment, is an airborne forces regiment of the US Army, with a long history, having served in World War II and the Vietnam War, both as part of the 101st Airborne Division, as well as the War in Afghanistan. It is the first airborne unit by designation in the United State Armed Forces. in 1941, this Army's first parachute regiment, the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), incorporated the name "Geronimo" into its insignia, with the permission of the real Geronimo's family. By then, the coverage of the paratroopers' exploits during the war had made the cry "Geronimo" known to the wider public, and its use spread outside the military and air force.
The 501 did a tremendous job during the whole war. All members of the regiment were parachute volunteers. The 501st PIR took off for their first combat jump from 2245hrs, 5 June 1944. They were to fly across the English Channel and drop into Normandy, five hours prior to the seaborne landing on D-Day. The 501st drop zones were north and east of the town of Carentan. Two battalions were to seize key canal locks at La Barquette and destroy the bridges over the Douve River, while the third battalion was in division reserve
In the predawn hours of D-Day a combination of low clouds, and enemy anti-aircraft fire caused the break-up of the troop carrier formations. Consequently, the sporadic jump patterns caused highly scattered drops. Most of the troopers landed far afield of their designated drop zones. The actions that night bore little resemblance to those so carefully planned and briefed. Amazingly, this unanticipated misstep confused the Germans and allowed the airborne units time to regroup. Unfortunately those that were dropped accurately encountered stiff German resistance. Nevertheless, Col Johnson collected a small force and by nightfall of the first day the beach exits in their zone had been secured along with the control of the la Barquette lock. Because of its proximity to Carentan the 101st was given the additional task of capturing the town. In spite of the initial confusion, the indomitable spirit of the regiment (and the division) enabled it to accomplish its multiple missions, but none of them as rehearsed. The efforts of the 501st came at high cost: the regiment lost 898 men killed, wounded, missing, or captured.
OPERATION MARKET GARDEN
Then there was Operation Market Garden. The 501st, along with the rest of the division, moved from initial objective areas to positions on "the island" between the Waal and Rhine Rivers. It became clear that they would not be withdrawn from Holland after a few days, as had been planned because their combat skills were sorely needed by the British. However, the prolonged fighting on "the island" was contrary to airborne tactics and strategy. After the initial hard fighting it became a static war of patrolling and attrition, principally by artillery and mortars. One such mortar attack, near Heteren, on 08 October 1944, fatally wounded Colonel Johnson. As he was being evacuated, his last words to Lt Col Ewell were, "Take care of my boys". Colonel Johnson was the best-known loss, but with him they lost 661 other fine soldiers.
On 16 December, 1944, The Germans had launched a major offensive at dawn on 16 December, west through the Ardennes Forest, in the lightly held sector of our VII Corps. At that time Shaef's Reserve consisted of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The 101st was ordered to the vitally important town of Bastogne which was the key to the German counteroffensive and had to be held at all cost by the 101st. The division was jammed into trucks for an overnight rush to Bastogne in Belgium on Dec. 18th. The 501 was the first unit to arrive. It was also the 501 that was first out of town that day to meet the 25 German Divisions and Colonel Ewell who boldly attacked and stopped them until a line could be established.
Since the 501st PIR was the first unit to arrive, Col Ewell was ordered to move out on the eastern road, through Longvilly and seize and hold a key road junction beyond Longvilly. The regiment moved out at dawn to meet the approaching German column three miles beyond the town when its first battalion ran into the enemy near Neffe, a few kilometers out of Bastogne. It stopped the enemy cold and held until the rest of the division could arrive. The 501st paid a dear price of 580 killed, wounded or captured during the battle of the Bulge.
A MONUMENT IN BASTOGNE
History has told us that all 3 Regiments (501,502,506, and the 327 Glider troops plus attached units of 10th Armored Div. and 705 Tank Destroyers, fought magnificently well at Bastogne. However, there are monuments there to other Regiments and the 326 Medical Team but none to the 501. As the first Airborne unit with such a great record of heroic actions during WWII and later other wars the 501 PIR is an important part of the freedom in which you and I and our families can live in peace today. This freedom is unrewardable and what we can do at least is show our gratitude and respect to all these fine man who fought for our freedom. Some of them paid the highest price. Since 1981 there is a monument for the 501 in Eerde in the Netherlands. A fine group of people of the Airborne Comité in Eerde takes very good care of this monument dedicated to the 501 and with the yearly commemorations they honoring what the 501 did for the freedom of Holland. But Market Garden was just 1 of the important battles where the 501 was involved in during WWII. The Battle of the Bulge and D-Day were also even more important for the outcome of the war. The efforts of the 501 together with all the other allied forces was the base of the more of 70 years of freedom were we living in today! WE MAY NEVER FORGET!
After building 3 monuments, 2 for the 506 (Bois Jacques and Brecourt Manor) and 1 for the 326 medical company (Barriere Hinck Sainte Ode), we decided it is the highest time to build one for the 501. Our ultimate goal is to have a monument for the 501 in Bastogne and in Normandy but we start with the Bastogne area. This memorial shall be located near Bastogne. The exact location will be determined when all the possible locations are investigated. Unfortunately we are not always free in the choice of that. We are depending on the local authorities and regulations. This monument will be a monument from all of us to the veterans of the 501 PIR and their families to keep the history of the 501, the Battle of the Bulge and memory to those who lost their lives, alive. Although their sacrifice is unrewardable I hope you will show that their efforts for our freedom was worth it and that we are able to show our respect for their dedication and sacrifice and get this project done. We are determined to realize this! If you are also convinced that building this monument is the least we can do to show our gratitude and respect please support this project! We will continuously give you an update on the progress of the project as much as we can. Thank you supporters of this project !