Gerry Paulk 501 PIR 101st Airborne Division 2nd Bat Co. D.
Late in the afternoon of June 5 we were taken to the airfield, where we were assigned to an aircraft. We had been in a guarded barb wire encampment outside of the airfield for two weeks then. We had not been allowed outside the barb wire the whole time, because of security measures. There were between fourteen and twenty soldiers in every aircraft. General Eisenhower had walked through the aircraft's when we were installed, before take off. I was thrilled to have that great General wish me good luck. He spoke with as many troopers as possible.
We took off at dusk. There were so many aircraft, it was incredible. The aircraft of three airborne divisions were circling Great Britain in stacks, before we were all assembled. As we were dropping in France, there were still aircraft in England that were taking off. It was dark and as we approached the French peninsula the German ack ack became ferocious. The planes broke their formations trying to dodge the ack ack. My plane banked sharply and I was thrown to the back of the plane. When it was my turn to jump, the plane banked again an I slit out the door and felt the jerk of the suspension line as it pulled my chute out of it's backpack.
When I landed I discovered to my surprise that I had landed in a canal in a swamp. With a rifle, ammo and a heavy radio strapped to my leg, it was quite a struggle to reach solid ground. The incident in the plane had caused me to be a couple minutes behind the last jumper, so when I landed there were no friendly forces to be seen. I had some contact with the enemy before I was able to contact a small friendly force at dawn. The group I was in consisted of men from various units. We had more contact with the enemy and were able to do some damage at the end of the first day. Three days later we were able to reach our own lines, where we could get assembled back in our original groups.
Read about his memories of the Holland drop here...