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The Boldest Plan is the Best: The Combat History of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion during WWII Paperback – August 29, 2011
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"I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I will recommend it to all officers in the 1-509th."
LTC Scott Himes
1-509th Infantry (ABN)
"I wish I had had a copy of this book two years ago ...because a thorough review of the 509th's history is hard to find."
LTC Shawn Daniel
3-509th Infantry (ABN) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Author
Before writing this book I had no affiliation to the 509th Parachute Infantry, the "Geronimos," other than being tortured by some of their members when I went through an air assault school they were running at Fort Rucker, Alabama in 1984. But in 2009 I did meet a former "gingerbread man" by the name of Mike Ponzini of Helper, Utah. Mike told me about the history of the unit and really sold me on the idea. Here's some points on why this unit history is so compelling:
- They were the first American Airborne unit to deploy to England in WWII.
- They were the first American Airborne unit to make a combat jump during WWII (North Africa).
- The unit fought as an independent battalion alongside other elite units like Darby's Rangers and the First Special Service Force at Anzio, in southern France, and at the Battle of the Bulge.
- The 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations during the war. Twice, at Anzio and during the Battle of the Bulge they held off attacks by superior numbers of the enemy, which had they not, would have arguably changed the outcome of the battle.
The target audience for "Boldest Plan is the Best" is one that is not necessarily familiar with early airborne, much less the Geronimos. There really is no other "one source" volume, other than perhaps "Stand in the Door," devoted to the gingerbread men of WWII. Other works of military history mention the 509th Parachute Infantry when they appear at a certain point in their narrative, but I have no knowledge of any other books devoted solely to this unit.
For you military history aficionados, you'll appreciate that I did find a number of minor differences and discrepancies in, and between, secondary source works by Devlin, Flanagan, and Breuer. But they were minor; mostly in time, date, place, numbers of casualties, etc. The usual, I assume, that would occur in the absence of the volume of primary source documentation that exists with the airborne divisions from WWII, and nothing that would change the course of the story.
I urge everyone to also visit the companion website at JimBroumley.com for a huge selection of maps and extra pictures that did not make it into the book. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The "Geronimos", as they were known, pioneered the tactics used by follow-on airborne units as well as the Pathfinder methodology for which they were never given credit. Broumley corrects these oversights and misconceptions as well as many others as he pays tribute to the men who comprised this group and built their legacy.
The 509th PIB had some of the most proficient and charismatic airborne leaders of World War II. They not only led this stand-out unit at the beginning of the War but they consistently challenged the "Geronimos" to perform above and beyond the call of duty (and beyond what they were tasked and supplied to do) from Africa to the Battle of the Bulge in which they were unfortunately decimated.
Anyone interested in the airborne during World War II should read this book.
John E. Nevola - Author of The Last Jump - A Novel of World War II