Stateside Training

That's George kneeling.

Initial training of the 82nd was conducted at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Bragg, N.C. the men who made up the 82nd came from across the United States, earning the division the name All American.

Lieutenant Colonel James Gavin was responsible for training and was the 505th first commanding officer. The first division commander of the 82nd was Maj. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway. Ridgway was a highly capable, competent, and inspirational leader who commanded the 82nd from its inception as an airborne unit.

On 28 April 1943, the 505th left the New York Port of Embarkation for, North Africa where the regiment underwent six weeks of grueling training.

North Africa Training

Casablanca

Upon arrival, the troopers marched eight miles south of the city where they established a cantonment area consisting of a few stone huts and a tent city. Soon, the Regiment was moved by "40 and 8's" northward to Oujda, Algeria. The "40 and 8's" were railroad cars dating from the First World War, so called because they were designed to carry 40 men or 8 horses.

Oudja

 Training intensified and Generals Eisenhower, Clark, and Patton, along with the Sultan of Morocco and officials of every Allied nation watched the 82nd go through its paces. Finally, the order came and the Division was moved by truck to Kairouan, Tunisia.

Kairouan

In Kairouan final preparations were conducted for the 505th's entry into battle. That came on July 9, 1943, when the 505th was chosen to take part in the Allied invasion of the Italian island of Sicily. Gavin commanded the jump.

 

James M. Gavin

A major general before his 38th birthday, "Slim Jim" Gavin was widely renowned for his calm leadership in battle. Gavin led the 505th Parachute Infantry into Sicily, and after participation in the Normandy parachute assault, he became the Commanding General of the 82d Airborne Division, leading the division's airborne operations in Holland and Germany. After World War II, Gavin was promoted to lieutenant general. General Gavin has been considered one of the foremost military strategists of his generation.

Next: Sicily

 

North Africa - Husky I - Avalanche - Overlord - Market Garden - Bulge - Commendations - Itinerary - 505th History - Back