My uncle Joe went through Jump Training at Fort Benning in the spring of 1944. Upon arrival he learned that Bob, his instructor, was also from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and they both became good friends with Bob even dating his sister (my aunt).
Uncle Joe shipped off to Southampton, England in July 1944 where he was assigned to F/501PIR. Bob was assigned to the 161st Parachute Engineer Company which became part of the 503rd RCT (Regimental Combat Team). Since 29 March 1944 the 503RCT also included the 462nd Parachute Artillery Battalion and the 503PIR.
During it’s more than three years of service in the Southwest Pacific Theater, the 503rd served in five major combat operations. They jumped into Markham Valley, New Guinea, on 5 September 1943, in the first successful Airborne Combat Jump in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Two Battalions of the 503rd jumped on Noemfoor off the coast of Dutch, New Guinea early in July 1944, followed by an amphibious landing by the other rifle Battalion a few days later. One Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to a trooper posthumously.
The 503d Parachute Regimental Combat Team made a major amphibious landing on the Island of Mindoro, in the central Philippines on 15 December 1944.
Then the 503rd Regimental Combat Team jumped on Fortress Corregidor on 16 February 1945 to liberate that Island from occupying Japanese forces.
This was the most vicious combat action in which the 503rd engaged during its existence. There were 6550 Japanese on the Island but, only 50 survived. The 503rd lost 169 men and was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and another Medal of Honor.
The 503rd also engaged in fierce battles against frantic Japanese resistance in the mountainous areas of Negros for more than five months.
At the end of the War with Japan in August 1945, about 7,500 of the surviving Japanese troops surrendered to the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team.
Official U.S. War Department sources estimated the 503rd killed over 10,000 Japanese troops during its combat operations in the Southwest Pacific.
I have correspondence from Bob in the Philippines to Uncle Joe in France. Joe was wounded at Bastogne on January 3rd 1945 and reassigned to a rear unit. Bob participated in the jump on Corregidor and talked about it in his letters.
Both have now passed away and Bob's widow gave me a large collection of Bob's negatives from the South Pacific and from when he was a Jump Instructor at Benning. Because these were all personal photos, they never made it to the National Archives. I have been printing them over the years and offering them to historians and collectors. I have attached some samples of the 503RCT and Fort Benning images and a few videos of their actions.
Unfortunately, the negatives are not marked with names and locations. If you or anyone else are interested in purchasing some of the photo collections, checkout https://sites.google.com/site/thevetera ... anAirborne
Check out these Army Videos about the 503rd