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(Dec. 29, 1919 - Apr. 6, 1969)
Edison Nathan Williams Military Genealogy
Edison, born Dec. 29, 1919 at age 20 with the escalation of WWII apparently decided to join the Army and enlisted in Richmond, VA May 16, 1940. Following boot camp training he apparently decided to join the Airborne Division and successfully completed airborne training school at Ft. Benning, GA.
He was assigned to the 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion at Fort Kobbe in the Panama Canal Zone. This unit’s mission was to land if required in Central, Latin and South America countries as well as areas in the Caribbean. As threats to the Caribbean and Latin America subsided in 1943, the 550th was redesignated the 550th Glider Infantry Battalion and undertook glider training in Sicily.
The unit was then assigned to the 1st Airborne Task Force and participated in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France on August 15, 1944 where the 550th captured the town of Le Muy. The 550th Airborne was sent to Aldbourne, England in November 1944 after the 1st Airborne Task Force was disbanded. During the “Battle of The Bulge” the 550th was attached to the 194th Gilder Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne Division.
As a member of the 17th Airborne Division, in response to the German offensive at the “Battle of The Bulge” in the Ardennes, December 16, 1944, they were flown to Reims December 23-25 and then moved by ground transport to the Ardennes area to take up positions along the Meuse River.
The last airborne operation in Europe was “Operation Varsity” March 24, 1945 as part of the “Normandy D-Day” invasion with the 17th Airborne and British 6th Airborne Divisions dropping across the Rhine River near Wesel. For a change, the parachute and glider regiments were in the same lift. They were scheduled to arrive at 08:15, bringing in artillery and anti-tank units of the 2nd Brigade. However, fog still blanketed the landing areas when the aircraft and gliders arrived, so the aircraft turned back without cutting their tows, finally returning about 18:00. Other gliders carrying the Task Force headquarters and other support troops were delayed for about an hour, and landed about 09:30. The 551st PIB, dropped into the 517th's drop zone at 18:10, as planned, while the 550th arrived in their gliders at 18:30, also on schedule. Other support units that came in by glider late in the day also landed according to schedule
The Germans had planted anti-landing obstacles throughout much of the area, mostly twelve feet wooden stakes, six inches thick, dug deep into the ground. These snapped off the gliders' wings and caused ground loops. Only 50 of around 400 gliders used were salvageable. Fortunately, damage to cargo and passengers was light – only about 80 casualties among the paratroops and about 150 glider troops, not counting 16 glider pilots killed and 37 injured. By 19:00 about 90 percent of the troops and equipment brought in by glider were ready for action.
The divisions remained in combat until April 12, 1945. The 82nd Airborne was engaged until hostilities ceased May 7, 1945.
With the end of the war in Europe, Edison was returned to the US June 12, 1945 and was discharged June 22, 1945.
HONORABLE DISCHARGE RECORD
Unit: 194th Glider Infantry Regiment Serial #: 7-029-735 Rank: PFC
Discharge Date: 22 June 1945 Separation Site: Fort Bragg, NC
Residence: Engelhard, Hyde Co., NC DOB: 29 Dec. 1919 in Fairfield, NC
Eyes: Grey Hair: Brown Height: 5”10-1/2” Weight: 167 lb.
Education: Grade School: 7 High School: 0 College: 0
Date of Enlistment: 16 May 1940 Enlistment Site: Richmond, VA
Military Occupation Specialty: Military Combat Designation:
Light Truck Driver Combat Infantry
Battles & Campaigns: Rome-ARMC; Southern France; Rhineland; Ardennes
Decorations & Citations:
American Theater Campaign Medal; American Defense Service Medal; 1 Bronze Service Star; Good Conduct Medal 550th Inf.A/6; 3 Jun ’43 EAMET Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Service Stars.
Service Record Outside U.S.:
Departure Destination Date of Arrival
16 Jun. 1940 ATC 27 Jun 1940
20 Aug. 1943 US 30 Aug 1943
21 Apr. 1944 EAMET 10 May 1944
2 Jun 1945 US 12 Jun 1945
No time lost under AW 107; Lapel Button Issued; Item 31 MM 30 Cal Rifle 3 Apr.‘44;
30 Cal LMG 3 Apr ‘44; Aviation Badge (Golden) 15 Aug ‘44; Item 33 (1) Bronze Arrowhead; Item 35 Yellow Fever 3 May ’44; Typhus 30 Apr ‘44
Information and photograph kindly submitted by Larry W. McClellan, step-son of Edison Nathan Williams