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Silk Chutes and Hard Fighting: U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Units in World War II is a brief narrative of the development, deployment, and eventual demise of Marine parachute units during World War II. It is published to honor the veterans of these special units and for the information of those interested in Marine parachutists and the events in which they participated.

Contents: The Jump Into Parachuting * Rendezvous at Gavutu * Tasimboko * Edson's Ridge * Recuperation and Reevaluation * Choiseul * Bougainville * The Closing Shock

Here is an excerpt:

U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Units in World War II - At 0430 on 10 May 1940, the German Army launched its offensive in western Europe by crossing the borders of neutral Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Five minutes prior to that, nine Luftwaffe gliders had swooped out of the dark sky and landed on a patch of ground that covered the roof of Eben Emael fortress, the key position in Belgium's defensive line fronting on the Albert Canal and Meuse River. The 60-odd men of a parachute-engineer detachment quickly debarked and set about their well-rehearsed work. Using newly developed shaped charges, they systematically destroyed the armored cupolas housing the fort's artillery pieces and machine guns. Although Eben Emael's 1,200 defenders held out below ground for another 24 hours before surrendering, the fort had ceased to be a military obstacle. The paratroopers lost just six killed and 15 wounded. Simultaneously with this assault, a battalion of German parachute infantry seized two nearby bridges and prevented sentries from setting off demolition charges. These precursor operations allowed two panzer divisions to cross the Meuse on 11 May and collapse Belgium's entire defensive line. Germany's remaining five parachute battalions conducted similar missions in Holland and achieved substantial results. In the course of a few hours, 4,500 parachutists had opened the road to easy conquest of the Low Countries and laid the groundwork for Germany's amazingly swift victory in the subsequent Battle of France. These stunning successes caused armed forces around the world to take stock of the role of parachutists in modern war.

The Jump into Parachuting - The widely publicized airborne coup in the Low Countries created an immediate, high-level reaction within the Marine Corps. On 14 May the acting director of the Division of Plans and Policies at Headquarters Marine Corps issued a memorandum to his staff officers. The one-page document came right to the point in its first sentence: "The Major General Commandant [Thomas Holcomb] has ordered that we prepare plans for the employment of parachute troops." The matter was obviously of the highest priority, since Colonel Pedro A. del Valle asked for immediate responses, which could be submitted "in pencil on scrap paper." Perhaps as telling, the memorandum did not direct a mere study, but the creation of a course of action.

14 enero
Progressive Management

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