Honoring My Dad, an 82nd Airborne Paratrooper

My Dad was a two time veteran, first on a destroyer in World War Two and then later when he served in the 508th Airborne Infantry as part of the 82nd Airborne Division. On this Memorial Day weekend I find myself going through my Dad’s military photos and paperwork. Unfortunately his World War II records and memorabilia was lost upon his return. All I remember him telling me about his World War II days is he was at Normandy on a Destroyer and served in the Pacific and was there on VJ Day.

82nd Airborne Paratrooper Division Training 1951, Ft Benning

However, I do have his records and articles from his second enlistment in the Army Airborne during the 1950’s including paratrooper training photos from the 1951  508th Airborne Infantry division.

I found the family photo albums when my Mom died in 2011, many I have never before, nor any of the articles. I’m in the process of scanning and restoring the photos and hope with this post maybe someone will remember, have memorabilia, or even the WW II personal items of Leo Thomas Tyrrell, also known as “Tiny Terry the Terrible” during his time on a destroyer in the European and Pacific theatre.

According to his discharge papers, Leo T. Tyrrell attended training at TIC Fort Benning, GA and QM School Fort Lee, VA between May 1951-Jan 1952. He completed the Basic Airborne and Parachute Packer and repairman courses as well as Basic Military Training.

82nd Paratrooper Training, Ft Benning GA 1951

82nd Paratrooper Training, Ft Benning GA 1951

Along with the photos were clippings of many training airborne maneuvers between 1951 and 1953 including the biggest maneuver in U.S. history  Operation Longhorn. This military exercise at Fort Hood Texas  involved where 3,089 troops of the 508th Regimental Combat Team dropped as part an Army exercise  also included the 82nd Airborne in a make-believe war  involving over 100,000 military personnel over a 17 day period.  Over 20,000 civilians either participated as their towns were invaded, or watched maneuvers, unfortunately just like in a real war there were two fatalities and 221 were injured.

Below is a photo of my Dad, he’s inside the glider so it doesn’t do much good but I love the glider, someone told me they were left over from WWII

Cargo Glider at Fort Hood 1952

Cargo Glider at Fort Hood 1952

Dad was also stationed at Fort Bragg and Camp Drum NY, where he participated in Exercise Snowstorm at Snow Ridge ski resort near Turin New York. He was honorably discharged as a Private First Class on August 17th, 1954. It appears he was attached to the 623rd Quartermaster Company as his most significant duty assignment.

PFC Leo T. Tyrrell 1952

Leo Thomas (Terry)  Tyrrell born 1925, died 1995

Miss you Dad, wish you had been around to see my kids grow and your grandsons become U.S. Marines.

UPDATE: 4/14/2014

I was recently contacted by a fellow Blogger who is documenting her family history and genealogy. Her Dad John G Hopkins was in the 508th with my Dad and there is a photo of the plane with the all the men sitting in front of it. My Dad is in the photo!! I think I have it narrowed down, he is either 4th from right on top row, or 4th from right on the bottom row.

82nd Airborne 508th before leaving for Operation Longhorn, much like Jade Helm

82nd Airborne 508th before leaving for Operation Longhorn

Books About the 82nd and 508th Airborne

The Sword of St. Michael: The 82nd82nd Airborne (Military Power)Boots on the Ground: A Month withJUMP: INTO THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW:History of the 508th Parachute RegimentPut Us Down In Hell: The Combat

23 thoughts on “Honoring My Dad, an 82nd Airborne Paratrooper

    1. I would be honored to have it added to the page. I was thinking about looking up a few Airborne sites myself and posting it. I have several articles about Operation Longhorn and did I read right, the 82nd played the part of the invading (enemy) troops? Upon discharge my Dad then worked for a parachute company in Manchester CT, in a district called “Silk City”. Considering he was a packer and inspector that would have been the perfect job.

      1. I’ll dig thru the Archives this week & see what I can find; many training exercises were conducted post WWII that would involve the 82nd having some of the units act as OPFOR (Opposing Forces) – thanks for the intel & keep in touch!

  1. What a great legacy your Dad has left for you and your family. Those are amazing photos. I have also lost my dad and your closing made me teary, take care.

    1. MAYBE SOMEONE OUT THERE CAN HELP ME , MY DAD WAS IN THE ARMY PARATROOPERS, BUT I NEVER KNEW HIM BECAUSE MY MOM AND HIM WERE DIVORCED WHEN I WAS BORN, HE WAS STATIONED AT CAMP PENDLETON, BUT I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO FIND ANY INFO ABOUT HIM. I USED TO HAVE 2 PICTURES OF HIM IN HIS DRESS UNIFORM AND IN HIS FATIGUES, BUT WHEN MY MOTHER DIED SHE WOULD NOT LET ME HAVE THEM AT 89 YEARS OLD SHE WAS STILL BITTER, AT HIM, BECAUSE HE HAD ASKED HER FOR A DIVORCE WHILE HE WAS OVERSEA’S… SO SHE WAS A VERY BITTER WOMAN ALL THE YEARS I WAS GROWING UP…. I DO NOT KNOW HIS BIRTHDAY, OR SOCIAL SECURITY, MY MOTHER WOULD NEVER TELL ME ANYTHING ABOUT HIM OR HIS FAMILY. MY DAUGHTER PULLED A PAPER UP ON THE INTERNET SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND IT SHOWED HE SERVED IN NORMANDY, AND HE HAD SOME MEDALS, BUT NO PICTURES…..I AM JUST TRYING TO FIND SOME INFOMATION ON HIM, BUT I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT IT, MY MOTHER TOLD ME HE HAD PASSED AWAY A FEW YEARS BACK, BUT I DO NOT KNOW THAT FOR SURE. IF ANYONE COULD HELP OR TELL ME HOW TO FIND INFO ON HIM , I WOULD APPRECIATE IT… THANK YOU SO MUCH…. GAIL CAMPBELL KOHR,

      1. Sorry to hear that, wish I knew where to tell you to start. If you do have his name that should help some. I would start at the 82nd Airborne website. Do you have a link to the photo you found?

  2. Hi, my name is bob and I live where Operation Longhorn happened, in Lampasas Texas. Love you photos. I would like to add them to my collection of Longhorn history. Email me and I’ll tell you more about the exercise.

  3. Fantastic article and amazing photos! I’m working on a magazine cover for a veterans center and I’d like to ask your permission to use the 1st photo on the cover. Please let me know your thoughts on that. Thanks!

    1. Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. You can use the first photo, but I don’t know if anyone else holds the copyright to it, my Dad didn’t take that one. But I’m sure it would be fine. I would love to see the cover or project when you’re done and would appreciate a link back to the article.

  4. Hey, my dad was a 3 war vet, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam….82nd Airborne I was born at Ft Bragg in 59, didn’t get to see my pops alot till 69, He was a Chief Warrant Officer, Jump master…I was named after his CO Dale Sanders, His name was Robert Edleston, he passed away in 88 fighting a second long battle with agent orange cancer.

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