82nd Airborne Artillery / 9th AAF Ike Jacket

 

All of the items came together from one estate sale, supposedly from the same man, and appear to show a combat-served 82nd Airborne Parachute Artilleryman who transferred to the 9th AAF. Unfortunately no info was available with the items, so a spot of detective work was required to make sense of this unusual uniform.

  • The jacket has all machine sewn patches (all with the same black thread), except for the overseas services stripes (hand sewn on) and the discharge patch (machine sewn on with tan thread). All patches are WWII ones.

  • The jump wings are Sterling pin-back.
  • The ETO ribbon has an arrowhead and a combat star on it.

  • Obviously not wounded in combat (no Purple Heart), but the jacket does have a Bronze Star. The medal ribbon bars are actually fixed together with a joining strip by the way, making one solid piece (four clutch backs holding them to the jacket). The ribbons are in the right order (for once) as well.
  • The Para Artillery Garrison Cap is a typical cap from early 1943 before the 82nd changed over to the combined para-glider design, and is unworn.

  • The USAAF-piped EM Cap is in chocolate gabardine and has been worn .

  • The Invasion Money (French, Belgian and German) were in the pocket and had previously been sellotaped together as part of a "short snorter" keepsake.
  • The Ike Jacket has faint markings inside traceable to a Marvin J Smidt of Monroe County New York, 32031998, enlisted in the Army 03/03/41. No other markings.
  • The Dog Tags are for Charles D Lee of Montgomery, Alabama, 14173222, enlisted in the Air Corps 22/10/42.

  • The two DI’s on the jacket are really poorly made, but are actually US Made ones, from Robbins & Co.

 Using the DI motto on various search engines, I came up with this on a website (part of a question someone is asking about the same insignia :
"I found a painted squadron decoration from Gunter Field in Montgomery, Alabama dated 1945. Supposedly a WW2 item. It has a red phoenix at the top with his wings spread and a shield with an iron gloved hand with lightening bolts coming out of it. On a scroll, it says, "Prepare For Combat.""

This is the same insignia that is on the jacket and the USAAF cap.

 Gunter Field was a basic flying school:

http://www.airfields-freeman.com/AL/Airfields_AL_Montgomery.htm#Gunter

and

http://www.maxwell.af.mil/42abw/42abw_history_world_war_two_era.asp

Also to note from: http://www.maxwell.af.mil/42abw/42abw_history_base_chronology.asp

“17 Sep 1945 - The Eastern Flying Training Command established a separation center at Maxwell to facilitate the release of Army Air Forces personnel.”
(Maxwell being the joint base with Gunter).

Thanks to the NARA info on Charles D Lee (of Montgomery, Alabama), the tale comes together - he enlisted in the Air Corps 22/10/42 at Gunter Field, Montgomery, Alabama. 

Looks like the man came full circle in his service: 

  • joined up with the AAF at the basic flying school at Gunter Field (washed out of the course maybe?)
  • transferred to the Airborne (Parachute Artillery of the 82nd Airborne)
  • served overseas for 3 years
  • at some point transferred back to the AAF into the 9th (probably for shipping home, as his original MOS was AAF)
  • was discharged at Gunter Field/Maxwell AAFB, Montgomery, Alabama
  • and then got on the bus outside of the base or simply walked back down the road to his house!
 
 

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