The two best light infantry divisions in the US Army, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned the task of securing the right flank of the invasion on 6th June. The 82nd Division led by the veteran paratrooper commander Major General Matthew Ridgway, had already seen action in Sicily and Italy. By June 1944 over half of its paratroopers were replacements that had never seen action. The 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) was a newly formed unit and June 6th was to be its first combat jump. Like the 82nd it was formed using volunteer troops and was trained to an exceptionally high standard. The commander of the 101st was Major General Maxwell Taylor who along with many of his officers were veterans that had previously served with the 82nd Airborne.
The early morning jump for both divisions from C-47 and C-54 transport aircraft did not go smoothly. The majority were dropped off target and massively spread out. Confusion reigned, for both the American and German forces, but due to excellent training, supreme bravery and outstanding leadership the American forces were ultimately victorious. Come with us to the landing zones and see places that have gone down into history such as: Sainte Mere Eglise, Sainte Marie du Mont and Brecourt Manor that was depicted in HBO’s Band of Brothers.
- Jim Gavin: The General Who Jumped First (warhistoryonline.com)