Today, we honored the 101st Airborne Infantry, 506th PIR. Better known as Easy Company, or the Band of Brothers. These men went through so much in the name of freedom, have 50% casualties in Normandy alone, the first 20 days of their long time spent in Europe. From Normandy, to Holland, to Bastogne, to Haguenau, they fought. It is because of men like these that we have the freedoms we have now.
Our training was to simulate 101st Basic at Toccoa, GA, with an emphasis on a mountain called Currahee. Three miles up, three miles down.
506th Notable Casualties (in Bastogne specifically)
John T Julian
Warren H Muck
Alex M Penkala
Carl C Sawosko
Harold D Webb
Kenneth J Webb
Donald B Hoobler
Richard J Hughes
Eugen E Jackson
John E Shindell
Francis J Mellett
Disclaimer, ask for FNGs
Mosey to Pull Up Bars – 10 Pull Ups OYO
Mosey to Football Field Gates
SSH x 23
Merkins x 10
Plank Jacks x 10
Peter Parkers x 10
Honey Mooners/Downward Dog
Low Slow Squat x 17
Al Gores – Talk about 101st Airborne, 506th PIR, Currahee, Two Years of Training, Operation Overlord, Battle of Normandy
I tried to run and read off of my phone between circuits, but it proved to be impossible. So we ran and then I told a story after each circuit.
Run 2 Laps in Formation
On June 5th, 1944, the American paratroopers were told to get on their gear, pack their chutes, and get ready to jump. Skepticism of if this jump would be scrubbed by weather too ran high, several jumps in the days prior had been announced and then cancelled as the men were loading into their aircraft. But this time the paratroopers knew it would probably be the real deal. As the sun began to set, paratroopers were packing all of their essential items including: ammunition, grenades, explosive blocks, gammom bombs, reserve chute, extra jump cord, identification clicker, jump knife, bayonet, machete, firearm, first aid kit, cigarettes, and rations.
Many knew this might be the last time they ever see the sun, and for many it would be. All together their gear weighed over one hundred pounds, so the vast majority of the paratroopers had to be pushed and pulled into their aircraft. They said a final prayer, took their air sickness pills, and then took off for Fortress Europe.
Circuit 1 – Bleachers
Run Up and Down bleachers Twice/Swap
100 – 150 – 200
Merkins – Squats – Dips
Flutters while waiting for the six
Over the Channel, many were awe-struck as they passed over the invasion fleet that, like themselves, was heading for Normandy. As the approached the Cotentin Peninsula, the red light came on. The Airborne were told to be standing when they came over France so they could “take the Flak like men.” As they stood up, they heard what sounded like thunder. Then, all of the sudden, all hell broke loose. The C-47s had flown into the the jaws of hell itself, and there was a fogbank covering the penisula making formation flying and finding your dropzone nearly impossible. The flak and tracers lit up the sky “like the 4th of July”, and when it hit your aircraft it sounded like “pebbles being shaken in a can.” As the aircraft veered and sped up, attempting to dodge the Flak, men were falling over one another and sliding around on the vomit that covered the floor. Several aircraft were hit and exploded mid-air, while others dove towards the ground. Usually, nobody could get out of these doomed C-47s. Some transports went too low, and the poor paratroopers inside had no time to deploy their parachutes. A member of the 101st Airborne once said the sound that was made when they hit the ground was like “pumpkins smashing into the ground.
Run 2 Laps
Circuit 2 – Endzone
Partner 1 Bear Crawl – Partner 2 (10) Plank Jacks – P2 Catches P1/Switch – Length of Field ON Track or Field
Endzones – 10 Donkey Kicks
Out & Back
Low Plank in waiting for group when completed
With aircraft going down everywhere, flak tearing into their aircraft, and limited visibility, many pilots dropped their passengers wherever they could. Many landed over large areas of swamp, others landed in the channel. Weighed down by over 120 pounds of gear and a harness that took over a minute to get off, the vast majority of those who landed in the Channel or the swamps drowned; sometimes in less than 3 feet of water. Those who landed over land obviously had a somewhat better chance at survival. As they gently made their way towards the ground, they could see all the chaos that was happening above and below them. Many paratroopers recall barely being missed by German 20mm and machine gun fire. Others were not as lucky, being hit and killed in their harnesses. Some rounds even hit their explosives, imploding them in mid-air. Those who made it to the ground were typically alone, surrounded by the enemy, and had little sense of their bearings other than that they were in Normandy. The force at which so many had exited their aircraft tore off most of their gear. Major Winters only had his jump knife when he hit the ground. These paratroopers were completely surrounded, most without adequate weaponry, most far away from their DZs, and most alone. Despite this, they still set out towards their objective or at least the nearest one. Having studied massive sandtables of the entire Normandy coast and every unit’s objectives, many paratroopers were able to get an idea of their bearings and start heading towards their objectives. During their march to them, they would find buddies or fellow paratroopers along the way. This is how the whole night went, small make-shift units of paratroopers from different units, working together and fighting together to whichever objective they were heading.
Run 2 Laps
Circuit 3 – Endzone
Wheelbarrow 25 yds/Swap
Length of Field
Endzone 1 – 5 Burpee Broad Jumps
Endzone 2 – 5 Burpee Broad Jumps
Six Inches in Waiting for the Six
It was during this circuit that I realized something – wheelbarrows suck. Also, my apologies to Dirty Harry for encircling him in the worst gas bomb to ever be dropped on that football field. Kaiser and Wegmans were also affected.
The fighting was incredibly chaotic in a terrain that favored the defensive. Despite the high amount of casualties that the US Airborne took, by sunrise most of the causeways and cities they had been tasked to take had been captured and secured. The Douvre and La Fiere bridges were still highly contested and wouldn’t be captured for another 9 or so days. On the morning of June 6th, many paratroopers took photographs and got some rest while they could. They knew the fight was not over, they had several other objectives as soon as the whole landing force was safely ashore. For the next 2-3 weeks, the American paratroopers would be fighting non-stop in the hedgrows and at places like Carentan. Many paratroopers were still trying to find their units even by June 16th, 1944. By June 20th, the American Airborne forces were being sent back to England to rest and prepare for their next jump. Out of the 17,000 American airborne forces who jumped or glided into Normandy, 1,003 would be killed, 2,657 would be wounded, and 4,490 would go missing; most of whom were captured during the early morning fighting. This jump proved the 101st Airborne’s worth and skill, cementing them as one of the most elite and effective airborne units in the world. During their brief time in Normandy, the American paratroopers earned the respect and admiration of the German forces who affectionately called them “Those devils in baggy pants!
Run 2 Laps
Back to COT for some Mary
Heels to the Heavens
Low Plank hip dips
Yeti 2/23 – Preblast is up.
Joe Davis Run 3/9 @ WEP – Preblast is up.
Dirty Harry’s daughter is getting tubes put in her ears Thursday. Pray for her safety/comfort, and for DH to be a rock for his family. Also for the surgeons, anesthesiologist, and every person involved.
Wegman’s is going to Chimbote, Peru in February. Pray for his journey and the impact of F3 on the people they interact with.
Praise – my 7 week old has slept three nights straight at 8+ hours.
Other unspoken prayers.
The men who show up to Honey Badger have become like brothers to me, as they show up every week and push themselves beyond what is a normal workout. They have an impact on me that is mostly unspoken. They lead in their families and communities, humbly. I am among heroes every Monday when I post.
Thanks for the opportunity to lead among these men.
Punch List Out.