|508th Infantry Regiment|
|508th Infantry Regiment coat of arms|
|Active||1942-46, 1951-57, 1962-present|
|Part of||82nd Airborne Division|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort Bragg, NC|
|Motto||Fury From the Sky|
|Engagements||World War II
Operation Powerpack Vietnam War Operation Just Cause Afghanistan Campaign Iraq Campaign
|Current commander||COL Timothy F. Watson|
|Notable commanders||Colonel Roy E. Lindquist|
|Distinctive unit insignia|
During World War II, the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (508th PIR or Red Devils) was a regiment of the 82d Airborne Division which in turn became part of XVIII Airborne Corps of the United States Army.
World War II
Memorial to fallen members if the regiment in Wollaton Park in Nottingham, where the 508th were based in 1944–1945.
The regiment was activated on 20 October 1942 at Camp Blanding, Florida. Lt. Col. Roy E. Lindquist formed the unit and remained its commander throughout World War II. After extensive training and maneuvers the unit embarked on 19 December 1943 in New York and sailed on 28 December 1943 for Belfast, Northern Ireland, arriving on 8 January 1944. After additional training at Cromore Estate, Portstewart, the unit was moved by ship to Glasgow, Scotland and by train on 13 March 1944 to Wollaton Park, Nottinghamshire, England. A sister Regiment, the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who were part of the 2nd Airborne Brigade with the 508th, were camped less than 10 miles away at a former Country Hotel called Tollerton Hall, Nottinghamshire.
The unit participated in Operation Overlord, jumping into Normandy on at 2:15 a.m. on 6 June 1944. Their immediate objectives were to capture Sainte-Mère-Église, secure crossings at the Merderet River near laFiere and Chef-du-Pont, and establish a defensive line north from Neuville-au-Plain to Breuzeville-au-Plain. There they were to tie in with the 502nd Infantry Regiment. Like most paratroop units in Operation Overlord, they were dropped in the wrong locations and had extraordinary difficulty linking up with each other. During the June 6th assault, a 508th platoon leader, Lt.Robert P. Mathias, would be the first American officer killed by German fire on D-Day.
Portions of the 508th regrouped and remained in contact with German forces until relieved on 7 July when they became the division reserve force. On 13 July, they were transported back to England via two LST’s and returned to their station at Wollaton Park. Of the 2056 troops who participated in the D-Day landings, only 995 returned. The regiment suffered 1061 casualties, of which 307 were killed in action.
For its gallantry and combat action during the first three days of fighting, the unit was awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (later re-designated as the Presidential Unit Citation), quoted in part below:
|“||The 508th Parachute Infantry is cited for outstanding performance of duty in action against the enemy between 6 and 9 June 1944, during the invasion of France. The Regiment landed by parachute shortly after 0200 hours, 6 June 1944. Intense antiaircraft and machine-gun fire was directed against the approaching planes and parachutist drops. Enemy mobile antiairborne landing groups immediately engaged assembled elements of the Regiment and reinforced their opposition with heavily supported reserve units. Elements of the Regiment seized Hill 30, in the wedge between the Merderet and Douve Rivers, and fought vastly superior enemy forces for three days. From this position, they continually threatened German units moving in from the west, as well as the enemy forces opposing the crossing of our troops over the Merderet near La Fiere and Chef-du-Pont.They likewise denied the enemy opportunity to throw reinforcements to the east where they could oppose the beach landings. The troops on Hill 30 finally broke through to join the airborne troops at the bridgehead west of La Fiere on 9 June 1944. They had repelled continuous attacks from infantry, tanks, mortars, and artillery for more than 60 hours without resupply. Other elements of the 508th Parachute Infantry fought courageously in the bitter fighting west of the Merderet River and in winning the bridgeheads across that river at La Fiere and Chef-du- Pont. The regiment secured its objectives through heroic determination and initiative. Every member performed his duties with exemplary aggressiveness and superior skill. The courage and devotion to duty shown by members of the 508th Parachute Infantry are worthy of emulation and reflect the highest traditions of the Army of the United States.||”|
After their success in Normandy, the regiment returned to its billet at Wollaton Park and prepared for its part in Operation Market Garden, jumping on 17 September 1944. The regiment established and maintained a defensive position over 12,000 yards (11,000 m) in length, with German troops on three sides of their position. They seized a key bridge and prevented its destruction. Other units prevented the demolition of the Waal river Bridge at Nijmegen. The regiment additionally seized, occupied, organized and defended the Berg EN Dalkamp Hill mass, terrain which controlled the Groesbeek-Nijmegen area. They cut Highway K, preventing the movement of enemy reserves, or escape of enemy along this important international route.
The regiment later played a part in the Battle of the Bulge. Col. Lindquist relinquished command of the regiment to Lt. Col. Otho Holmes in December, 1945. The unit was inactivated on 25 November 1946.