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Combat Jump: The Young Men Who Led the Assault into Fortress Europe, July 1943 Hardcover – October 21, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Based on veteran interviews and backed by published sources, thissuspenseful history recounts the first paratrooper invasion inAmerican history. In July 1943, when Eisenhower was ordered to invadeSicily, he dropped the soldiers of the 505th Parachute InfantryRegiment behind enemy lines in order to prepare the way for hissubsequent naval assault. The paratrooper outfit endured ferociouscombat during the first four days of the campaign, combat that Ruggeroaccurately and vividly describes using the recollections of more than20 veterans of the 505th. The book is filled with reconstructedservice anecdotes and "army stories" of hair-raising combat behindenemy lines: soldiers against German tanks, soldiers against soldiershand to hand, and the desperate battle to hold Biazza Ridge againstattacking German tanks and infantry. James Gavin, the regiment'scharismatic commander and, later, an ambassador to France during theKennedy Administration, features prominently throughout the book. Thismini-biography is complemented by Ruggero's engaging backgroundhistories of the development of the paratrooper force in theU.S. Army, the training of paratroopers at Fort Benning and thedevelopment of the "airborne culture" in the U.S. Army. But themajority of the book focuses on the combat action surrounding of thejump itself, which was poorly executed by the Army Air Force anddropped many paratroopers far from their targets, leaving them to fendfor themselves. Readers in the market for good war stories would dowell to put this volume on their reading lists. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of ReedElsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
It won't surprise dedicated military-history readers that Ruggero's new book is a winner. The author of two texts on leadership and five excellent novels is up to writing a good military-unit study if anyone is. The unit in focus is the 505th Airborne Infantry: its organization, training, and combat debut in Sicily in July 1943. The training reflected highly on the regiment's CO, Colonel James Gavin, later a lieutenant general and one of the unsung heroes of World War II. But no amount of good training could completely counter the bad weather, faulty navigation, and limited intelligence that eventuated in the jumpers fighting Tiger tanks with bazookas. Scattered as it was, the 505th reorganized and carried out its mission, in the process so disorganizing German units that they could not carry out theirs. Its casualties were serious, but its success won paratroopers a permanent place in the American arsenal. Ruggero's thorough research, including interviews with many survivors, and excellent writing earn this book a permanent place in any WWII collection. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This is the story that is depicted in Combat Jump. By all accounts, no one knew what to truly expect when the green 505th Regimental Combat Team was tasked with the first vertical envelopment of regimental size in the history of the United States Army. It was an experiment where the lab rats were the young sons of America and the test tube was the crucible of Sicily.
They were told there were no Germans on the island, no tanks and, after a concentrated drop, they would simply have to block the roads to prevent the Italian forces from attacking the beaches. In reality, the young paratroopers were scattered all over the island, came up against the Hermann Goering Panzer Division with its monster Tiger tanks and their reinforcement drop was attacked and decimated by friendly fire the next night.
The overall casualties were so great that General Eisenhower almost completely abandoned any future plans for airborne operations. What changed his mind was that the young, feisty paratroopers actually completed their mission and then some.
Just how these courageous boys overcame all of these failures against insurmountable odds is brilliantly told through the voices of the veterans who served in that campaign. Combat Jump describes the baptism of fire that taught the hard lessons and forged the doctrine of the airborne fighting forces that would become victorious in Normandy, Holland, the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhine River crossing.
John E. Nevola
Author of The Last Jump - A Novel of World War II