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The US Forces included Navy, Army, Army Air Force and Marine Corps

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  • Captain US Army, (3rd Army) in "Eisenhower" jacket 

This infantry Captain of the US 3rd Army is wearing the famous "Eisenhower" jacket, also called the "Ike" jacket.  

Introduced late in 1944, the jacket was a popular option for both enlisted and officer ranks.  

It is named for Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, who suggested that a short, close-fitting jacket similar to the British battle dress blouse be added to the official U.S. Army uniform.  

Like the British BD blouse, the Ike jacket featured concealed buttons and an adjustable waistband for a trim, no-nonsense look.  

The style quickly became so popular that supplies were often low and many who couldn't get the real thing had their standard 4-pocket coats cut off below the waist to create makeshift versions. 

On his left arm, this captain wears the "AO" patch (Army of Occupation) of General George S. "Blood & Guts" Patton's famous 3rd Army.  The crossed muskets on his lapels show that he is an infantry officer, and he wears the ribbon of the Silver Star Medal for individual bravery in the face of the enemy, the Soldier's Medal for heroic non-combat service, and the Purple Heart Medal, for being wounded under enemy fire in combat.

He also wears above his service medal ribbons a CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge) which recognizes that he has participated in battle with an armed enemy.  The two "hash marks" on his left cuff designate 1 year's overseas service, with each bar counting for six months.
 
His unit has been awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (later redesignated the Presidential Unit Citation). The gold-framed ribbon of that award is worn over his right pocket.

He wears an overseas cap (sidecap) that had gold and black piping to denote his status as either a company or field grade officer. As a Captain he is wearing sterling silver rank insignia. 

wearing "pinks & greens"

The slightly greener cast of this service tunic, and the slightly pink hue of the shirt and tie, caused many to refer to them as "pinks and greens."  

The trousers, not shown, would have been of the same pinkish beige as the shirt and tie.


The Third Army's job in Europe after World War I helped to create the design of it's shoulder patch. The patch is a white A on a round, blue background with a red circle around the A. The meaning of the patch was originally Army (white A) of Occupation (red O).

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Here we see a World War 2-era Marine Captain in "winter green" uniform.  

As shown by the scarlet-and-gold shoulder ropes and the subdued insignia on his lapels, this officer is serving as Aide de Camp to a Major General (2 stars).

He has won three high awards for heroism -- The Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Bronze Star with "V for Valor" device denoting bravery in combat.  

The gold star on his Purple Heart ribbon indicates that he was wounded in action a second time, not surprising given his impressive a combat record.

He is a career officer, as shown by the yellow American Defense medal ribbon, which dates his active duty to before Pearl Harbor.  Also on that particular ribbon is the "W" device that denotes participation in the Marines' valiant defense of Wake Island. He also earned the "Foreign Service" clasp to that medal.

You will note the silver parachutists badge high on his right chest that indicates another of his accomplishments.

His formation patch bears the Southern Cross and reads "Guadalcanal" to signify the service of the 1st Marine Division in that bloody battle in the South West Pacific that lasted from August 1942 to February 1943. Lunga Point, "Iron Bottom Sound" and Henderson Field were names soon indelibly burnt into history. Loss of life, limb, ships and planes was huge on both sides. Eventually the Japanese completed a stealthy evacuation of their surviving ground troops in the early hours of 8 February 1943. It was here that our Captain earned several of his gallantry awards.

This USMC Captain is holding a USMC "Mameluke" sword. The right to bear this weapon was won when USMC Lieutenant Presley Neville O'Bannon and seven enlisted Marines along with a rag tag 'army' of Arabs and Greek mercenaries crossed 600 miles of desert to bring an end to the rule of the pirates of Tripoli.

He wears his high-collar "dress blues" uniform.  On his cap frame with officer's gold and scarlet-red chinstrap, he wears a white cover. 

His hat and collar display eagle, anchor and globe ("EGA") USMC badges of pure silver and gold overlay.  The eagles on the smaller collar brass face inward per regulations. 

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He wears Rifle Expert and Pistol Sharpshooter badges. 

He has removed his white gloves, having just come off duty on the Staff of the Aviation Commander of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington. He declined to wear the authorized Sam Browne belt while on sea duty in order to reduce the amount of luggage in his small, cramped officer's quarters.  

As a Marine Aviator he wears Naval pilot's wings above the top row of his service ribbons -- which includes the Navy Cross and the Silver Star with two gold stars denoting 2nd & 3rd awards.  The second row of ribbons displays the Navy & Marine Corps Medal, the Bronze Star with "V" for Valor device, and the Purple Heart

Third row is the Air Medal, a Marine Corps Good Conduct medal to show he started an as enlisted man and was a "Mustang" (took a combat commission), and finally the American Defense Service Medal with "W" appurtenance to show he defended Wake Island against assault by the Imperial Japanese Naval and Marine Forces in December 1941. 

  • On special occasions he wears his full medal rack rather than just the service ribbons.

The 5th and 6th Marines in World War One were awarded three French Croix de Guerre Medals, two with a gold palm and one with a gold star.  To represent those medals, he wears a French fourragere of green and red, the same colours as the service ribbon of the Croix de Guerre.

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The Air Corps was restless as an Army stepchild from the start.  Its members were consigned to wear Army uniforms, but asserted themselves to the full limit of the regulations to look different from their land-bound brothers.  

One popular motif was to wear a chocolate brown shirt with their khaki neckties. Some have speculated that the practice emulated Hollywood's stereotypical gangster attire, which often featured a dark shirt with light-colored tie.  

If true, it would be a fitting and typically American response to German propaganda broadcasts of the day, in which Air Corps bomber crews were often referred to as "American Luftgangsters" (gangsters of the air).

On his left shoulder he wears the Formation Patch of the famous 8th Army Air Force. He was one of the pilots who flew both the B17 bombers with the 91st Bomb Group and the P-51D Mustangs of the 357th Fighter Group. His carefree "go get 'em" attitude was more suited to fighters but he recognised the vital necessity of destroying the enemy's capability of making war products, the job undertaken by the bombers.

On his right chest he wears his silver Army pilot's wings.

American military pilots took nose art and unit insignia to levels and applications not seen before.  

They proudly emblazoned both their planes and their leather flying jackets with Squadron and Group emblems, sometimes in the form of cloth patches, sometimes by applying silk-screened decals, or sometimes even having the designs hand-painted directly on the leather.  

for nose art

The unofficial unit insignia on this U.S. Army Air Corps pilot's horsehide model A-2 flight jacket identify him as a member of the 67th Bomber Squadron of the 44th Bomber Group. 

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They  served with the 8th Air Force from one of its many bases in England.  He holds in his hand a pair of early gold wire-rimmed Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, a perennial favorite with flyers since the 1930's. 

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This U.S. Navy Lieutenant (equivalent to Army rank of Captain) wears a summer service "suntan" uniform. 

The black wool rank marks on his shoulders have two gold-lace stripes to denote his rank and an embroidered gold bullion star to show he is a Line Officer. 

His collars also display metal rank insignia so that when he works in shirtsleeves as was commonly done in the South Pacific, his rank is still visible. He wears a medal ribbon for the Navy Cross, which ranks just after the Medal of Honor. 

Next to it is the Navy and Marine Corps Medal ribbon, followed by the ribbon for the Bronze Star.

Above his ribbon bar is a gold pair of Navy pilot's wings to show he is a qualified Naval Aviator, probably assigned to an aircraft carrier like the USS Lexington which fought at the Battle of Midway.

He has a matching suntan cover on his visored hat frame. "Suntan" is the U.S. Navy's term for what the U.S. Army called khaki, which is different from the British version of same word. His cap badge shows the eagle facing his right; from 1869 to 1941 eagles faced the wearer's left.

Although perhaps not as well known as the 101st, the 82nd were just as dangerous to have as an enemy.

 

This Captain is ready to lead his men in Operation Neptune, the night attack into France to start proceedings for Operation Overlord, D-Day, 6th June 1944

 

Because he is battle-ready he has discarded his normal headwear for an M1-C paratrooper helmet with special leather chin cup with a first aid kit attached to the front. 

 

His weapon is the M3A1 "grease gun" .45-caliber submachine gun with a 30-round box magazine and a webbing sling.

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The grease gun, so-called for its obvious resemblance to the mechanic's tool of that name, was introduced in 1942 as a less expensive alternative to the famous Thompson submachine gun.  With an effective range of only 55 yards, the M3 was less popular than the Thompson among regular infantry,  but its smaller size, lighter weight and better reliability in battlefield conditions made it ideal for airborne troops as a close-combat lead sprayer.  

Note the 82nd Airborne Division’s "Double A" shoulder patch. The one he wears grew from the several variations from WW1. The A's stand for "All American," a nickname derived from the fact that in World War I the 82nd's troops came from all 48 States. He wears cloth badges of rank on his shoulder straps, a variation that later became the norm. On his right shoulder he wears his "invasion patch," an embroidered US Flag, "Old Glory."

Although para trained he was recently field-posted to the newly formed 325th Glider Infantry Regiment and as a result will later wear the Airborne Glider badge on his dress uniform. Although initially disappointed with the change, he later came to appreciate the courage of men who go into battle in unprotected 'planes' with no engines and he became very supportive of and proud of his men. To this day he proudly marches behind the 82nd Airborne's flag as a "glider man".

Fewer than half of the gliders assigned to the U.S. 82d Airborne reached their assigned landing zones. The rest lodged in hedgerows, struck German obstructions, or floundered in the swollen marshes.

He has already taken part in parachute assaults at Sicily & Salerno in Italy. Here the Germans called them "Devils in baggy pants".  He is wearing a green compass pouch on his utility belt.  His canteen is also visible.  

Some of his men are equipped with the Cushman Auto Glide motor scooter (Airborne version Model 53) to allow them to act as mobile forward scouts and fast moving despatch riders. Others were landed with glider borne Willy's Jeeps. General Eisenhower credited the Jeep, the Bazooka and the Douglas DC3 "Gooney Bird" as the 3 pieces of equipment that "won the war".

On June 5-6, 1944, the paratroopers of the 82nd's three Parachute Infantry Regiments and a reinforced Glider Infantry Regiment boarded hundreds of transport planes and gliders and began the largest airborne assault in history. At 3:00 AM, the gliders carrying heavier equipment (jeeps and antitank guns) and reinforcements began to arrive in the area.  The paratroopers who had landed earlier were able to secure the immediate area for landing, but were unable to silence the German anti-aircraft sites. 

As a result, the tow planes were forced to climb and release at a higher altitude - making the gliders even more vulnerable.  No one had seemed to take into account the enormous hedgerows in the countryside and factor this into the glider landings.  As a result, glider casualties were extremely high as they landed.  In addition, the glider troops were, in most cases, also lost when they landed.

The 82nd were among the first soldiers to fight in Normandy, France. By the time the All-American Division was pulled back to England, it had seen 33 days of bloody combat and suffered 5,245 paratroopers killed, wounded or missing. 

The Division's post battle report read, "...33 days of action without relief, without replacements. Every mission accomplished. No ground gained was ever relinquished."

Click to enlarge On 17 September 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted its fourth combat jump of World War II into Holland in Operation Market Garden. Fighting off ferocious German counter-attacks, the 82nd captured its objectives between Grave and Nijmegen. 

Its success, however, was short-lived because of the defeat of other Allied units at Arnhem, 'A Bridge Too Far', where the British 1st Airborne Division was cut to pieces after the plan to breakthrough to relieve them went terribly wrong.

Suddenly, on December 16, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which caught the Allies completely by surprise. Two days later the 82nd joined the fighting and blunted General Von Runstedt's northern penetration of the American lines in the "Battle of the Bulge".

 

Today the 82nd Airborne Division is known as " America 's Guard of Honor," a name given them by General George S. "Blood & Guts" Patton during the Occupation of Berlin. It is now the largest paratroop unit in the Free World.

 

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces