An American Airborne Epic Part 1


The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated at Camp Toombs (later renamed Camp Toccoa), Georgia on July 20th, 1942 and was commanded by Col. Robert Frederick Sink. Sink was born in 1905 in Lexington, North Carolina. His interest in the military began as a teenager after spending hours listening to relatives and friends recount their First World War experiences. In 1923 Sink entered the military academy at West Point and graduated four years later. He served in the infantry until 1940 when he heard about the formation of a parachute test platoon. The platoon made its first jump on August 14th and by the middle of September the War Department authorized the establishment of the 501st Parachute Battalion. Sink immediately volunteered and served as a Captain under Major William M.Milley. He was then given the task of activating the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR)and became its first commanding officer, a position he held throughout the entire War.

Lt Col. Robert Wolverton Paratroopers Hooking Up

It was rumored at the time that senior members of the War Department's civil service had the unprecedented idea of creating a 'super unit' recruited directly from the civilian population. The civil servants did not believe that the regular army could supply the quality of soldier required to fill the ranks of such a regiment. It was correctly assumed that the principle of civilian volunteers would raise the countries moral after the recent Japanese humiliations like the attack on Pearl Harbour and the invasion of the Philippines. The 506th became the first such organization and with great energy and determination Col. Sink put into effect one of the most rigorous training schedules any WWII American military unit had been required to undergo.

Paratroopers Emplaning 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment

The Regiment was divided into three battalions. The 1st was commanded by Lt Col. William Turner, the 2nd by Lt Col. Robert Strayer and the 3rd, by Lt Col. Robert Wolverton. Wolverton was universally loved by his men because he put them first, even before any officer in the Battalion. He was born on October 5th, 1914, came from Elkins, West Virginia and like Sink was West Point trained. He graduated from Command and General Staff School, Ft Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1942 shortly before taking command of the third battalion.

Paratroopers Shooting Camp Toccoa

Each battalion had four companies and the third's were designated HQ, G, H and I. The regiment spent its first few months at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, where 7,000 raw recruits were subjected to the grueling training regime. This was known as 'A' Stage, it lasted thirteen weeks and was designed to eliminate all but the very strongest. By the final week nearly 5,000 men had fallen by the wayside!

United States Army 101st Airborne Paratroopers United States Army Paratroopers


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