We are now able to offer a new "ride-along" Airborne experience. Individuals will be allowed to go "Airborne" along with jump team members on a C47 flight. Hear and feel what it's like to ride in a WWII vintage aircraft and watch the troops dressed in WWII uniforms and equipment "Stand Up & hook Up".
To learn more about this opportunity contact us at: operations_@_wwiiadt.org
William A Kort
Enlistment date: 15 October 1942 New York
Deployments: Europe -
Units: A Company, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, HQ Company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Qualifications: Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Wings
Decorations: Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, American Campaign Medal, EAME Campaign Medal with Bronze Arrowhead and 4 Bronze Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Distinguished Unit Award with Oak Leaf Cluster
Discharge Date: 30 August 1945
The following is my Army history:
On October 29, 1942 I was sent to Puerto Rico for basic training and assignment to the Signal Corps. As this was not what I wanted, I requested a transfer to the main land to become a parachutist. Twice my request was denied. I was accepted on the third try. I left Puerto Rico on May 1, 1943 arriving in the United States on May 15, 1943. One month later I finished jump school and was then assigned to the local Motor Pool. It seems at that time that the parachute organizations overseas were not in need of replacements.
We were scheduled to go overseas in early August of 1943. The day before my departure the Red Cross notified me of my stepmother’s death. As such they arranged for a week’s pass as well as transportation. Upon my return to camp, all my friends were now gone and I was reassigned for overseas deployment with another group. I never saw any of my original group again.
After twenty two days on board a tanker, we arrived in North Africa only to be put in a replacement depot. It seemed once again that no one needed us. There was talk of reducing us to regular infantry and taking away our jump status. Fortunately this did not happen and we were soon shipped to various locations as parachute replacements.
I and several others were sent directly to Anzio Beach where the fighting continued night and day. We were dropped off an LSC in water and told someone on the beach would meet us. Someone came and took us right up to the front line and told us to “dig in”. We spent approximately sixty days there. We were over run by the Germans several times. Some of our men who occupied outposts actually engaged the Germans in hand to hand combat. This is where we won our first unit citation. How we survived I will never know. The Germans were on the top of the hills and we were in the valleys. The only time we could move was at night and even that wasn’t safe as the Germans had our locations pin pointed. They also had a railroad gun large enough to blow our ships out of the water. Supplies were hard to get. After awhile even stale bread tasted good.
When we were finally relieved we went to quarter in Naples and back to training. Our next mission was to jump on Rome and capture the main highways. We boarded the planes every night for three consecutive nights but never took off. The mission was cancelled once the infantry broke through. After Rome was taken we moved from Naples to an Italian Military School in a town called Lido de Roma. We worked out every day for the jump into southern France.
The big day finally arrived and we left Italy to jump in France. The date was August 15, 1944. We were to jump at 4:30 A.M. in a small town called Le Muy. The flight was uneventful until we got over land. There was some ack ack fire but not much to speak of. The entire Battalion was to have landed in Le Muy but as it turned out our company “A: was the only group that was dropped in the right place. At least one plane load that we knew of was dropped directly into the ocean and there were no survivors. The other groups were spread out as far as twenty five miles. Eventually we all got back together.
When we jumped there was quite a bit of ground fog that we were unaware of. From above it appeared to us to be the ocean and we tried to quickly get out of our chutes. Thank God none of us did. As it happened we went through the fog and landed in trees, on tops of houses and on fences. One of our officers landed on the upper porch of an elderly couple’s bedroom. When they realized who he was they actually invited him in and gave him food and wine. As for me I was lost for approximately a half hour and it was very scary to say the least. After we captured Le Muy we went on to recapture the Riviera, Nice, Cannes, Antibes, St Tropez…etc.
As our “reward” for doing a good job, we were then moved to the mountains to protect the flank of units moving up through Italy. The main location was a resort town named Piera Cava. This town led directly up into the mountain range. Our job would be to stand guard and go on patrol in the mountains for a week and then back to Cannes for a couple of days of rest. After two days rest, it was back to the hills.
Subsequently we were relieved and sent north to Reims. A few days after our arrival the Germans made the breakthrough in Belgium. On December 18, 1944 (my birthday) we were loaded onto trucks and rushed to some unknown place in Belgium. The driver actually had no idea where we were but told us, nonetheless, to get out.
I was immediately sent on patrol with my squad to ascertain where we were and who was out there. After several hours of scouting we found no one. By the time we returned the rest of the company had been attacked by the Germans and over-run. Many were killed and wounded. The following day we found the remains of our unit and regrouped. From that point on the fighting was fierce and relentless. We were so tired that many of us fell asleep while walking.
We finally got to an area outside of St. Vith where we again received strong resistance. I received my first wound from mortar fire on January 24, 1945. It consisted of a piece of metal which was lodged in my back. One of the medics cut it out and bandaged it up. He suggested I find a field hospital and go there. Based on the fighting and the area I felt it was safer to stay with my group. There were so few of us left that we were taken off line and moved back until they decided what to do with us.
There was a sniper in the area that was picking off our people. I was elected to take a squad and get him. The area he was in was mostly trees with a large open field in front. We planned on going around the perimeter of the open field and try and get behind him. For some reason my scout decided to cross the field. I called to him but he didn’t hear me. Like a fool I went out after him and got myself shot. The date was January 27, 1945. The bullet entered my neck just below my right ear and exited just below my left ear. When I came to, two of my men were dragging me through the snow. I told them to help me up and I would walk following their footsteps in the snow. After what seemed like a long time I collapsed. I woke up in a field hospital. Later I was put in an ambulance and taken to an airport where I was flown to a hospital somewhere near Liverpool in England. I stayed there for two months.
On March 27, 1945 I was placed on a ship for return to the United States. We arrived in New Orleans on April 24, 1945 almost one month later. From there I was transported to a hospital in Camp Edwards, Massachusetts. After intensive therapy I was discharged on August 30, 1945, eight months and three days after I was wounded. It seemed like a very long time. But I am one of the lucky ones, I’m still here, doing okay and able to thank God every day.