Airborne Forces at War: From Parachute Test Platoon to the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Airborne Forces at War: From Parachute Test Platoon to the 21st Century. Robert K. Wright Jr., Ph.D. and John T Greenwood, Ph.D. Naval Institute Press. 214 pages; photographs; maps; index; $39.95.

In Airborne Forces at War, Robert K. Wright Jr. and John T. Greenwood present a comprehensive summation of the activities, organizations and combat operations that collectively spell out the history of the airborne forces of the U.S. Army. Almost every airborne unit, almost every combat action and almost every decision critical to the evolution of Airborne organization and doctrine are identified. But the mention of each is more in the form of a daily morning report that summarizes the facts of daily activities, with little explanation of why and how.

There is only a smattering of anecdotal information in Airborne Forces at War. There are paragraphs on personalities, the design of the Parachutist Badge, Medal of Honor awardees and the like; however, although the coverage of each major segment of Airborne history reports what happened, any detailed explanations of the plans, purposes and actions that brought about the result are omitted. For example, a reader interested in the record of the 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry, will find "... the 3rd Battalion, 504th, was sent to the northern front [at Anzio] and attached to the British 1st (Guards) Division. ... they helped stop the German offensive in difficult hand-to-hand fighting against repeated attacks ... For its gallant stand from February 8-12, the 3rd Battalion received a DUC [Distinguished Unit Citation]. …