Emery Alvin Van Every was born October 4, 1923 near Clear Lake, Iowa. He is just now in 2003, approaching his 80th Birthday. Emery attended schools in Belmond, Scheffield, Thornton and Mason City, Iowa. Emery was drafted into the United States Army on March 5, 1943 during his senior year of highschool. He took his Infantry Basic Training at Camp Roberts, California. He then volunteered and was accepted to be a paratrooper and was moved to Fort Benning, Georgia where he took five weeks of parachute training, qualified and received his parachute wings. Emery was then transferred to Camp Machall - Fort Bragg. While at Camp Machall, Emery was assigned to the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, F Company. He was then moved to Northern Field Tullahoma, Tennessee for more extensive training and made his first night parachute jump. After a short leave Emery returned to Camp Machall-Fort Bragg and learned that they were to prepare for overseas duty. The group then proceeded to Camp Shanks, New York.
His group left New York on December 28, 1943 with a destination of Ireland. In Ireland Emery was stationed at Port Rush for nearly 2 months, he was then moved to Wollaton Park, Nottingham England where they prepared for the invasion of Normandy.
Emery made his D-Day jump into Normandy and landed at 1:52 am on the morning of June 6, 1944 on the west side of the Merderet River. Six paratroopers landed in the same small area across the road from an apple orchard. After identifying themselves with their crickets they crossed one by one into the apple orchard where they met up with other paratroopers. There were German forces a short distance down the road at a machine gun outpost, and when the paratroopers went to investigate, some were taken prisoner. Emery witnessed 2 of his fellow F company comrades , Leroy (Whitey) Bauman and Joe Thornton being taken as prisoners of war. Upon landing in Normandy the objective of Emery's group was to blow up a railroad bridge in a village on or close to the Dove River.
Due to the fact that there was a much larger concentration of German forces in this village the group was not able to get the job done. However, they were able to see the Airforce blow the bridge with the dive bombers from Hill 30. After dawn arrived the German forces in this village were able to spot the Americans, and pursued after them and they chased them back to the causeway over the Merderet River leading to St. Mere Eglise, Normandy, France. With the German forces also being on the other side of the causeway and bridge the American group of about 139 men were not able to cross the causeway. This being almost evening and dark the American forces were forced to go into the swamp or surrender. Emery and James Elash, who was a 30 caliber machine gun operator, were forced to go into the swamp wading in water to their necks. They went for some distance into the swamp where they found a strip of land about 4 inches high and 4 foot wide, where they were forced to stay for 5 nights and 4 days. With nothing but K- ration cookies and a few sticks of chewing gum for this entire stay in the swamp. At this time Emery and James proceeded to the causeway where they found many dead 325 glider troopers from the Regiment that had captured this causeway.
As Emery and James crossed the causeway toward St. Mere Eglise they spotted other American forces which Emery believes were also of the 325 Glider Regiment. These American forces took in Emery and James but, would not give them anything to eat because of the fact that Emery and Jim had not had any food for such a long period of time. They did however, give them some sleeping tablets along with some beef broth to put them to sleep. After they awoke the next day these forces were able to take Emery and James to the rest of the 508 Regiment who were on the East side of the Merderet River. After this time the 508 were able to accomplish all of their objectives one of the first was the crossing of the Dove River in pontoon boats at about 2:00 am, where they were able to get up on the road leading into this little village. As they arrived on the road and laid down, 3 German tanks came down the road leading into the village. The Officer in charge was Lt. Pollette he gave the order to the bazooka gunner to fire a round of bazooka ammunition into the side of the first German tank coming down the hill leading to the village. This was done through the tracks of the tank, but, the bazooka would not fire therefore Lt. Pollette took a round of bazooka ammo in his hand and was able to throw it through the tracks of the tank, stopping it with the other 2 tanks behind it.
This disabled the first tank, but, the other 2 tanks were able to escape back up the road going up the hill. All German troops in the tank that was destroyed were killed. At dawn of this day the American group was able to go and capture or kill the rest of the German forces in this village. Unknown to the American group there was a large group of German forces in a chateau a short distance south of this village. Of this group in the chateau the American group was able to kill or capture many, but others escaped. After this the 508 Regiment captured many other objectives leading toward Hill 95 at La Haye du Puits. One morning between the 4th and the 6th of July, the 2nd Battalion of the 508 was assigned to spear head the attack on Hill 95 temporarily being assigned to assist the 505 Regiment in this attack. After being able to accomplish the capture of this hill the 2nd Battalion was able to dig in on the forward slope which overlooked the village of La Haye du Puits. In this village were three churches with steeples which the Germans were using as artillery observation posts. After some time the Germans were able to spot the American forces dug in on the forward slope of Hill 95.
At this time the German forces started firing both artillery and mortar shells into the American forces on the Hill. Most of the American troops were able to get back on the reverse slope of the hill, but, some were killed including Emery's platoon leader and squad leader. These being Lt. Cook and Sgt. Harold. Emery was standing within a foot of these men when they were killed. Emery was not wounded at this time. Emery at this time was carrying a Browning automatic rifle and needed an ammo bearer. The ammo bearer was about 6 feet ahead of Emery going down the reverse slope of the hill, when the German's were able to drop an artillery or mortar shell in front of the ammo bearer killing him. A piece of shrapnel also wounding Emery. After some time Emery and many other wounded were taken back to England on a Hospital ship. Where Emery recuperated and was able to return to the Regiment after they returned to the Base camp in Wollaton Park in Nottingham, England, where they prepared for the Invasion of Holland.
The Invasion of Holland was to occur on September 17, 1944. Emery was also able to participate in this operation, landing on some ground above Beek, Holland on the 17th of September. Emery's Regiment was assigned to take the approach to the Nijmegen Bridge in Holland on the 19th of September. Emery was again wounded for the second time as they made this attack through Beek toward the bridge. He was again returned to England to recuperate. The 508 Regiment was not returned to England, but, was sent to a second base camp somewhere around Sissone in France. The Military operation in Holland was called Operation Market Garden. Emery again was able to return to the 1st base camp in Nottingham England. He was married on October 4th, 1944 to a wonderful Nottingham Lassie named Eleanor Crandon whom he met during his stay in Nottingham. After some time the remaining 508 troops still in Nottingham were able to close the camp and also went to France to the 2nd base camp around Sissone. However, by this time the 508 was again committed to combat and they were transported by convoy to the Battle of the Bulge.
Emery again was able to rejoin the 508 somewhere in the Ardennes or Hurtgen Forest sometime in December of that year. Emery received his third wound while he was riding in a jeep because of frozen feet. This happened from an artillery tree burst from a German artillery shell. He was then taken to an American Army Hospital at La Havre, France. After being there for some time he was able to go to a rehabilitation center at Etampes in France which was across the harbor from La Havre. He was never able to return to the 508 Parachute Regiment after being wounded this 3rd time. Fortunately, Emery was able to be assigned to a Quarter Master Supply Unit that was later assigned to Berlin Germany. Being thus assigned Emery was able to visit his former parachute unit the 508 which was stationed in Frankfurt Germany as General Eisenhower's Honor Guard, Of which Emery and the 508 are very proud. While Emery was stationed in Berlin he became the father of a Wonderful baby son who was born to he and his wife Eleanor in Nottingham England.
Also at this time the point system for discharge was developed and as it got to 81 points which Emery had accumulated he was able to return to the United States and be discharged in Rockford, Illinois. Emery's wife Eleanor and his son David were able to join him in the States on the following Easter. They lived in various locations in Iowa and had 4 more wonderful children and also many Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Emery was awarded the Purple Heart with 2 clusters for his being wounded 3 times. He also was awarded the Silver Star which he never received for his actions on Hill 95 at La Haye du Puits France.
Written by Stacie Coppinger,
Granddaughter of Emery Van Every as told to her by Emery himself.