Wednesday, September 8, 2010

They Said It . . .

"I could see out. It was only a short time before I could hear the crack of small arms fire and see puffs of antiaircraft gunfire.

"Shortly after, the plane started filling with smoke. As I looked across the plane, I noticed Lieutenant [Isidore D.] Rynkiewicz had been hit in the left knee and Hatfield, the BAR man, was hit on the back of his hand. To my right, a trooper was on the floor of the plane. I think it was [Private First Class Everett R.] Rideout.

"I remember saying, 'Let's get the hell out of here' and we started standing up. The air force sergeant dove out the door of the plane. Within seconds, the plane was so full of smoke you could not see anything. Some men near the cockpit of the plane started coughing, and we were pushing for the door.

"At that time, myself and others fell through the floor of the plane. We were hooked up, and when my chute opened, I could smell flesh and see skin hanging from my face and hand. I had released my rifle when the flames burned my hands."
Eighteen-year-old George Willoughby, a private in the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, on his experience during the regiment's combat jump into the Netherlands as part of "Operation Market Garden." From More Than Courage: The Combat History of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II by Phil Nordyke.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Air Corps

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