SPC Jacob, Christian A
18 MAY 15
Combat Jumps of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Battalion
The idea of parachuting from the skies is hardly a modern one and spans as far back as 1400s when Leonardo da Vinci sketched the first parachute, the 1500s when Fausto Veranzio assembled and tested the first parachute, and 1700s when Sebastien Lenormand created and jumped with the first ever practical parachute. The sky soldier, however, is a relatively modern invention with Natzi Germany credited with the first airborne combat operations in the 1940s, the invasions of Denmark and Norway. Shortly thereafter Allied Nations launched numerous large scale successful combat operations. Among the renowned Parachute Infantry Regiments, 503rd is the most highly decorated of its type and has executed five combat jumps: Markham Valley in New Guinea, Noemfoor Island in New Guinea, Corregidor in the Philippines, Katum in South Vietnam, and Bashur Drop Zone in Iraq.
In September 1943, the 503rd jumped its first combat operations in New Guinea. The Japanese had occupied the region and considered it to be important for its airstrip, its location along the Markham River Valley, and -if taken by American forces- would allow the Fifth Air Force a forward base in its aggressive campaign against the Japanese. The success of the operation was deemed so essential that General MacArthur arrived and assisted in the planning and execution of the operation. General MacArthur and other officer staff participated personally by flying above the Markham Valley in B-17s to observe the battle unfold. The operation itself included one thousand-seven hundred American Paratroopers, in concord with the Australian 2/4th Field Regiment which supplied light artillery or “baby 25 pounders”, landed at Nadzab, reorganized, and defeated the Japanese at Lae. According to Japanese war records there were approximately ten thousand Japanese troops in the area before the assault but the successful operation…