#Valor24 – U.S. Army Pvt. Joe Gandara, paratrooper

Pvt. Joe Gandara, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 82nd Airborne Division, will be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on June 9, 1944, in Amfreville, France. His detachment came under devastating enemy fire from a strong German force, pinning the men to the ground for a period of four hours. Gandara advanced voluntarily and alone toward the enemy position and destroyed three hostile machine-guns before he was fatally wounded.

Pvt. Joe Gandara

Pvt. Joe Gandara

Gandara’s regiment was initially formed at Fort Benning (formally Camp Toccoa), Georgia on July 20, 1942. They participated in three operations during World War II: D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity.

As part of the 2nd Airborne Infantry Brigade, the 507th was assigned to the 82d Airborne Division to replace the 504th Parachute Infantry regiment that had suffered many casualties in Italy.

Heavy fog and German guns proved formidable challenges to the paratroopers and because of this, pilots were unable to drop them precisely as planned. The paratroopers were jumping into unknown territory and needed to be prepared for any encounter or conditions. In addition to the ground challenges, paratroopers carried an average of 70 pounds of equipment. With the parachute, men weighed in at 90 to 120 pounds over their body weight.

See below for a list of items Gandara and his fellow paratroopers carried:

Standard Parachutist pack

blog post 03-06a

Seven paratroopers of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment pose with the regimental mascot “Geronimo” prior to a paratroop training exercise in 1943.

M-1 Garand Rifle with 8-round clip
cartridge belt with canteen
hand grenades
parachute and pack
anti-flash headgear and gloves
pocket compass
machete
.45 caliber Colt automatic pistol
flares
message book

Spread throughout pockets
loaded .45 automatic pistol
medical kit
2 additional lb. HE
knife
escape/survival kit
toggle rope
additional personal items

Emergency rations
4 pieces of chewing gum
2 bouillon cubes
2 Nescafe instant coffees, 2 sugar cubes, and creamers
4 Hershey bars
1 pack of Charms candy
1 package pipe tobacco
1 bottle of water purification (Halazone) tablets to purify water. “To use: Put two tablets in canteen full of water (approx. 1 qt.) and shake briskly. Wait 30 minutes before drinking water. If water is dirty or discolored, use 4 tablets.”

To read Pvt. Gandara’s bio and award citation, visit http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/valor24/recipients/gandara/

References:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/dday/sfeature/sf_paratrooper.html

http://www.507th.com/

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#Valor24 – U.S. Army Pvt. Joe Gandara, paratrooper