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Jun. 6: Georgians land at Normandy

The 507th PIR served with distinction in France in 1944.
The 507th PIR served with distinction in France in 1944.
Image by Zik Armstrong

Here’s what happened.

On this, the Seventieth Anniversary of D-Day, let’s honor the Americans who participated in that historic event, and remember especially those who represented Georgia. That includes the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR).

Here’s why it matters.

During the USA’s Civil War, military regiments were still named after the state in which they were assembled. For example, lots of men from Fulton and Decatur Counties served in the 1st Georgia Infantry. By World War II the practice had ended. But it was typical for U.S. infantries to consist entirely of men from the same military installation. The 507th was trained at Camp Toccoa and was headquartered at Fort Benning, both in Georgia.

The 507th was assigned to the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. On June 6 the troops participated in Mission Boston, a combat jump. Despite adverse weather conditions, most of them reached their destination: Drop Zone (DZ) T, an area near the Merderet River in Normandy. After landing, the 82nd linked with the 101st and moved inland. Troops from the 507th that had missed DZ T eventually joined the 101st.

The 507th went on to play a major role in The Battle of The Bulge, under the command of Colonel Edson Raff. The 507th’s service is remembered in an award-winning documentary.

Here’s an interesting fact!

The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions liberated several French towns. Two of their soldiers (the Niland brothers), and some of their battles may have been the inspiration for the movie, Saving Private Ryan.