January 06, 2004
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From: Robert A. Lynn
The late U.S. Senator Thurmond didn't land a glider during the D-Day operation but parachuted in. He was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division from the Civil Affairs Section of the First Army Group. He was awarded 18 decorations, medals, and awards of which some are provided here: the Combat Infantryman's Badge or CIB, Basic Airborne Wings with one (1) star for a combat jump, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, one (1) Bronze Star for Valor, one (1) Purple Heart, the Belgian Order of the Crown, and the French Croix de Guerre.
I hope this corrects the record of an outstanding Southern gentleman and a true Son of the South.
VDARE.COM comments: Our research indicates that it was a glider, although we did find references to him having parachuted in. Perhaps this is because most people have forgotten about the glider infantry of WWII.
Thurmond was 42 when he landed, which is pretty old to be landing in enemy territory in a glider, but really old to be making a combat jump by parachute.
Remarks by The Honorable Les Brownlee
Under Secretary of the Army
Dedication Ceremony, MG Strom Thurmond Strategic Deployment Facility
Pope AFB, NC
16 September 2002
During World War II, although exempt from military service due to both his age and position as a judge, he took a four-year leave of absence from a Circuit Judgeship in South Carolina in order to voluntarily serve his country as a soldier. As a 43 year old lieutenant colonel he served with the All Americans – the 82nd Airborne – and landed in a glider carrying 8 other soldiers and a jeep as part of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. His team reinforced parachute troops that landed earlier that day and collectively routed the German forces from the town of Ste. Mere-Eglise.
In fact, I remember discussing the glider operations with Senator Thurmond. Riding a glider into battle is high adventure, and the usual result was a crash-landing. That's in fact how Senator Thurmond landed – a terrific crash that wounded him and destroyed the jeep the glider was carrying. I asked the Senator how he got out of the glider and into the battle. He explained that the entire side of the glider had been torn open. "All you had to do was to stand up and walk right out the side!"
Secretary Brownlee read a letter from Senator Thurmond:
"I think one of my proudest distinctions as a Soldier is my association with the 82nd Airborne Division. A lot of things have changed over the past 55 years that makes the Paratrooper an even more efficient Soldier than he was in 1944. Thank goodness you do not use wooden gliders anymore. I must confess that my one and only ride in that particular aircraft is not one of my favorite memories. We can be proud that today's Paratrooper is better equipped, better trained, better armed and more lethal than the Airborne Soldiers of any other generation or army. The military power that a Regiment of 21st Century Paratroopers brings to bear in a fight is nothing short of awe-inspiring to our allies, and nothing less than terrifying to our enemies.