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506th PIR/101st Airborne Division Pathfinders (Provisional)

 
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Mack
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:55 pm    Post subject: 506th PIR/101st Airborne Division Pathfinders (Provisional) Reply with quote

Pathfinders of the 506th are among the few who can claim several combat jumps over the course of the War in Europe. Operation Albany saw Pathfinders of the 506th jump into Normandy on June 6th 1944. Then on September 17th, 1944 the Pathfinders of the 506th jumped into Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. The Pathfinders of the 506 wouldn't end their jumps there however, on December 22, 1944 Pathfinders of the 506th jumped into Bastogne in Belgium in order to guide in the much needed air drops to the surrounded 101st troops there. They would then go on to do yet another jump on February 3rd, 1945 into Prum Germany in order to support the 4th Infantry Division. Pathfinders often jumped up to a full hour before the main airborne assault force in order to mark drop zones and landing zones for fellow Paratroopers and glider troops. Often their jobs were considered suicide missions, but these unconventional soldiers proved time and again the value of Pathfinders in airborne operations.

Famous among the ranks of the Pathfinders were James McNiece and his Filthy Thirteen of the 506th PIR. They were a demolition squad and inspiration of the movie "The Dirty Dozen".

Rare footage of US Pathfinders training in England just prior to D-Day. Featuring Lt.Col. Crouch, pilot of the lead plane carrying the Pathfinders into Normandy for Operation Albany and Capt. Lillyman, commander of the 101st Pathfinders on D-Day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idNbxUBof_U

A great source of information regarding the Pathfinders is 'American Airborne Pathfinders' by Jeff Moran, Publisher Schiffer Military History
Profiling their equipment, organization, missions and uniforms. A fantastic read with tons of great photo references.
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*crash*
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jake "McNasty" McNiece was definitely a true character. His inspiration for the war paint was his being part "Choctaw" and only became a pathfinder after jumping into Normandy and Market Garden as a demolitions trooper (Filthy 13) and he thought he'd be assigned to England, but ended up jumping into Bastonge and later Varsity (one of very few troopers to make 4 combat jumps in WW2).

He lead the Filthy 13 (Demo unit of the 506th) after the Lt was killed at Normandy. Other members of Filthy 13 joined the Pathfinders after McNasty did, out of loyalty and trust. Jake was constantly in trouble with higher ups, but his skill and cool under pressure ensured him ending up as a 1stSgt, he passed in 2013.
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