Moderator: JOHN THURSTON
"The WW2 101st Airborne produced many officers whose names will long be remembered: Generals Maxwell Taylor, Tony McAuliffe, West Point-trained tacticians like LTC Ewell and Kinnard, who have risen to the top echelons of the military.
But you will not find one among them that knew or was expected to know the art of killing, perfecting it to the degree achieved by some of the enlisted men.
The best and toughest of the paratroopers were cold, fearless killers, who went to great extremes to kill the enemy. Around this hard core of fearless killers, was built the greatest military machine of any war, the 101st Airborne."-
"Who carried which weapons and why didn't all paratroopers carry the folding stock carbines, which were especially designed for them?"
Most members of a rifle squad were armed with 30-06 caliber M-1 Garand rifles, which were a much more potent weapon than the carbine, which lacked range and knockdown power.
The M1-A1 carbine with a folding stock, was issued to officers, also to some members of crew-served weapons (i.e. 60mm mortar squad), while non coms(sergeants) carried the M1-A1 or M1928A1 Thompson submachine-gun.
This included Staff Sgts (platoon Sgts) and 3 stripe Buck Sgts (squad leaders). These weapons were prescribed by the TO&E (Table of Organization & Equipment), but individuals frequently opted for-and usually got, whatever they wanted.
This switching was done on the battlefield, if not accomplished prior to a mission. Since the M-1 Garand was the best all-around weapon, many officers also used it, instead of the carbine, and some noncoms swapped their TSMG for an M-1.
Some members of crew-served weapons also preferred the M-1 over the carbine, despite it's extra weight, when they were also carrying such items as MG ammo, tripods, baseplates, mortar tubes, 40lb A-4 machineguns, etc.
If all the paratroopers had been equipped with carbines instead of M-1 rifles, it would have been a lot more difficult for the 101st Airborne to win any battles.
note: The Browning Automatic Rifle (B.A.R.) was not issued to WW2 paratroopers because it was considered too awkward to jump with. It was not listed on the TO&E for Parachute Infantry rifle companies.
The weapon weighs about 20 lb and is four feet long and cannot be broken down for jumping purposes. This is why squad tactics centered around the LMG (dropped in bundles) instead.
The B.A.R. was an effective and devastating weapon and immediately after WW2, the 82nd and 11th Airborne
Divisions incorporated them into their TO&Es and devised a method of jumping with them fully-assembled, and strapped alongside the parachutist's leg, muzzle down.
At Jump School, you'll be introduced to your best friend - your parachute. You'll get to know everything about it. How to wear it, adjust it, use it, the works.
You'll also learn all the techniques needed to accomplish your mission with absolute confidence. How to stay loose; get ready for impact; let your legs absorb the shock; roll and collapse your chute quickly; release your harness; unsling your weapon; and deploy into position.
Airborne officers are considered to be among the Army's most valuable combat officers. (Every member of the Rangers and Special Forces - two of the Army's most elite corps - is airborne-qualified.)
And not only Infantry officers can benefit from "going Airborne." Being airborne-qualified will enhance an officer's value to the Army and enhance his or her own chances for a valuable career.
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