505th PIR, 82nd Airborne
Captain Ted jumped into the darkness over Sicily, July 9, 1943. He was in charge of Company A, 505 PIR of the 82nd Airborne. His transport plane was one of the lucky ones that wasn’t shot down when they flew over the nervous Allied fleet off Sicily. Some weren’t so lucky. FUBAR.
Company A missed the drop zone and was scattered over half of Sicily. No working radio and no clue where they really were, but they were determined and resourceful. Capt. Ted gathered up as many men as he could and told them their specific mission had changed. Their new mission: just find the enemy and kill them.
Capt. Ted, along with the other 3,500 who jumped into Sicily, attacked and killed the Italians and Germans where they found them. With mostly light weapons and American determination, they held off German Tiger and Panther tanks, preventing them from attacking the vulnerable American landing forces.
On the night of July 10th Company A was in an all-out firefight with dug-in enemy troops defending a hilltop. The Germans knew how to use their heavy machine guns. The Americans withdrew a short distance to a small dry streambed to regroup and rest. After only a few minutes a German patrol jumped in the ditch. It was so dark they didn’t know it was occupied by the Americans. The Americans didn’t know who had joined them until one one of the Germans spoke. It was an bloody knife and bayonet fight in total darkness. It went badly for the Germans but a few escaped. No Americans were killed. The assault on the hilltop resumed. Captain Ted led his men through the withering fire. Many of the enemy were killed and captured. For his valor, Captain Ted earned the Distinquished Service Cross.
Ted is 94 now and too unsteady for another reunion at Bragg. He was once CO there. He went on to the Pentagon where he ended his chances to make General by writing a report about Viet Nam the Generals didn’t like. Well, six years later Ted was proved to be correct but he was retired to his ranch in Texas by then.
Up until a couple of years ago Ted looked and carried himself like a man 20 years younger. When one of his cows didn’t come up one morning, he went to find her. The big Hereford came up out of the mesquite and catclaw and stomped the old man real bad. She was defending her calf, born the night before. The old man crawled nearly a mile back to the house. He’s never really been the same since it happened. It was his worst injury since the land mine in Italy.
Ted, will attend his church this Sunday, as always. He has his own stained glass window there. He paid for it. Lord only knows what memories will be alive in him this Memorial weekend. So many gone and so many to remember from three big wars in his thirty years.
Ted lives in a small town on U.S. 180 in the middle of nowhere Texas. They don’t have any drug-store cowboys there. They got the real thing, with real spurs on their scuffed up boots. Some of them will still fry up a plate of mountain oysters for the city folk who come to visit. It’s far worse than calf brains. Take my word for it.
Most of those old boys in the county know Ted and they know he has been written up in a couple of books. They all tuned in to FOX when he was on Colonel North’s ‘War Stories’. A few of them who knew how to ask have been allowed to see the medals. The DSC, Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars and a collection of purple hearts. These are the ones I can remember but there were more.
Pretty amazing for a guy who never weighed over a buck-fifty. One tough Texan.
Ted’s been alone for five years now. He lost his wife of over 50 years to the long goodbye. She was military too- the first woman to make Colonel in the armed forces. You didn’t want to get caught in their crossfire. What a pair. You made darn sure you had good posture when you were in a room with them. Bad posture was a sin. If one didn’t scold you, the other one would.
On Memorial Day, take some time from fun to remind family and friends to give thanks for all the men and women who have served. Show them respect. Uncle Ted will appreciate it.