Stokes spent 2 years in the cavalry in Panama from 1939 to 1940. He was called back in 1942 with the 325th infantry at camp Clayborne LA. He was then assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Stokes was with the 80th from Fort Bragg to Africa, Italy, Ireland, England, Normandy, and Holland until his death during the battle of the Bulge. Stokes had 3 other brothers who fought in WWII. Jim Taylor was killed in Action of Salvo Island when his ship the U.S.S. Quincy was sunk. Ben Taylor was in one of the Ranger outfits and was wounded in Europe. Dave Taylor was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division. He was in one of the first Airborne Company’s formed in 1940. He was also wounded around the town of Bastogne, Belgium during the battle of the Bulge.
Lt. Jake Wertich was killed in action at the same time and place as Stokes and also won the Distinguished Service Cross Medal. The commander of the 2nd company M. B. Ridgway of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment said this gun dueled with heavy mechanized artillery and tanks from around 02:30 am till they were overrun by elements of the 1st SS Panzer Division.
They were always glad to see the 80th Anti Aircraft. While their biggest gun was the 57mm, no match for the German 88mm, they were a welcome addition. All told, the 80th Airborne Anti Aircraft Battalion lost 64 men of which five are not found in the Division records.
The 80th Anti Aircraft Battalion was activated on September 3rd 1942 at camp Clayborne, L.A. as the 82nd Division was being converted to Airborne. Personnel came from A and C Companies of the 326th Infantry and A and B Companies of the 325th of the 82nd. The first Commanding Officer was Colonel Whitfield Jack. When the 82nd became airborne, personnel were not volunteers but were assigned. As "Anti Aircraft" they wore the braid of the Coast Artillery, but were primarily "Anti-Tank" from Africa forward. The Battalion joined the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg and underwent glider training. The Battalion was a division resource and batteries were assigned to each of the three regiments as needed. It is probable that every battery was assigned to support the 505th.
The Battalion consisted of a HQ and six batteries A through F. Each battery had 8 guns and about 70 to 100 men. The first weapons for Batteries A, B and C were first 40mm Bofers AA, then 37mm AT and in Africa they converted to 57mm, known as the six-pounder. Batteries D, E and F retained the 50 caliber. Anti Aircraft ground mount and machine guns. On April 27th 1943 the Battalion went overseas on the George Washington, which along with the Monterey, carried the 82nd Airborne. The Battalion followed the 82nd through Sicily, Italy and onto Ireland.
In England, the 80th Anti Aircraft Airborne was stationed in Oadby Racecourse, where a plaque was placed in 1997 in remembrance of their stay there. In Normandy the first gliders carrying the 80th AAA arrived at 04:03 am. Batteries A, B and C flew into Normandy in 42 CG4A and 14 Horsa gliders carrying 24-57mm guns, 28 Jeeps and 9-1/4 ton Trailers. Batteries D, E and F came in by boat from Cardiff. Mark Alexander told of a crew with one 57mm near St. Sauveur le Vicomte, without gun sight, which he directed be "bore-sighted" to protect that location. All Batteries went into Holland by glider led by Batteries A and B. They were 126 CG4A gliders, 536 men, 32 57mm guns, 52 Jeeps and 24 1/4 ton Trailers. Battery E had been converted to 8 57mm. (We all remember those gliders out there in "no man's land".)
Entering Belgium Batteries A, B and C first took up defensive positions near Werbomont. During the Bulge one gun of Battery A was left behind to cover movements of the 505th 2nd Battalion when they were overrun and four men were killed, Lt. Wertich and Corporal Taylor receiving the DSC medal. While men of the 80th had not joined the 82nd Airborne as volunteers they became Airborne and they knew they were part of a first class force. The 80th remained in the 82nd until de-activation in the 1950's.
The 82nd Airborne Division is an airborne infantry division of the United States Army, specializing in parachute assault operations into denied areas with a U.S. Department of Defense requirement to "respond to crisis contingencies anywhere in the world within 18 hours". Based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps.
The 82nd Airborne Division is the U.S. Army's most strategically mobile division. The division was constituted, originally as the 82nd Division, in the National Army on 5 August 1917, shortly after the American entry into World War I. It was organized on 25 August 1917, at Camp Gordon, Georgia and later served with distinction on the Western Front in the final months of World War I. Since its initial members came from all 48 states, the division acquired the nickname All-American, which is the basis for its famed "AA" on the shoulder patch.
The division later served in World War II where, in August 1942, it was reconstituted as the first airborne division of the U.S. Army and fought in numerous campaigns during the war.
The 82nd Division was redesignated on 13 February 1942 during World War II, just two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the German declaration of war, as Division Headquarters, 82nd Division. It was recalled to active service on 25 March 1942, and reorganized at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, under the command of Major General Omar Bradley. During this training period, the division brought together three officers who would ultimately steer the U.S. Army during the following two decades: Matthew Ridgway, James M. Gavin, and Maxwell D. Taylor. Under Major General Bradley, the 82nd Division's Chief of Staff was George Van Pope.
On 15 August 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division, now commanded by Major General Ridgway, became the first airborne division in the history of the U.S. Army, and was redesignated as the 82nd Airborne Division. The division initially consisted of the 325th, 326th and 327th Infantry Regiments, and supporting units. The 327th was soon transferred to help form the 101st Airborne Division and was replaced by the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, leaving the division with two regiments of glider infantry and one of parachute infantry. In February 1943 the division received another change when the 326th was transferred to the 13th Airborne Division, being replaced by the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, under James M. Gavin, then a colonel, who was later destined to command the division.
With two combat drops under its belt, the 82nd Airborne Division was now ready for the most ambitious airborne operation of the war so far, as part of Operation Neptune, the Allied invasion of Normandy. The division conducted Mission Boston, part of the airborne assault phase of the Operation Overlord plan.
In preparation for the operation, the division was significantly reorganized. To ease the integration of replacement troops, rest, and refitting following the fighting in Italy, the 504th PIR did not rejoin the division for the invasion. Two new parachute infantry regiments (PIRs), the 507th and the 508th, provided it, along with the veteran 505th, a three-parachute infantry regiment punch. The 325th was also reinforced by the addition of the 3rd Battalion of the 401st GIR, bringing it up to a strength of three battalions.
On 5 and 6 June these paratroopers, parachute artillery elements, and the 319th and 320th, boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders to begin history's largest airborne assault at the time (only Operation Market Garden later that year would be larger). During the 6 June assault, a 508th platoon leader, First Lieutenant Robert P. Mathias, would be the first U.S. Army officer killed by German fire on D-Day. On 7 June, after this first wave of attack, the 325th GIR would arrive by glider to provide a division reserve.
In Normandy, the 82nd gained its first Medal of Honor of the war, belonging to Private First Class Charles N. DeGlopper of the 325th GIR. By the time the division was relieved, in early July, the 82nd had seen 33 days of severe combat and casualties had been heavy. Losses included 5,245 troopers killed, wounded, or missing, for a total of 46% casualties. Major General Ridgway's post-battle report stated in part, "33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."
Following Normandy, the 82nd Airborne Division returned to England to rest and refit for future airborne operations. The 82nd became part of the newly organized XVIII Airborne Corps, which consisted of the 17th, 82nd, and 101st Airborne Divisions. Ridgway was given command of the corps but was not promoted to lieutenant general until 1945. His recommendation for succession as division commander was Brigadier General James M. Gavin, previously the 82nd's ADC. Ridgway's recommendation met with approval, and upon promotion Gavin became the youngest general since the Civil War to command a U.S. Army division.
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