Descending from the Clouds: From North Africa to VE Day with 505 PIR 82nd Airborne (BOK)
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Wurst spent the most of World War II in the European Theatre of Operations as a squad leader or platoon sergeant in Company F, 505. He made three of the four regimental combat jumps, dropping into Italy, Normandy, and Holland. Highlights include his baptism of fire in Italy during the Battle of Arnone, D-Day jump and the liberation of Ste. Mere Eglise for which he was awarded a Purple Heart. Wurst also details his grueling month of combat in the hedgerows of Normandy (a second Purple Heart) and the ferocious battle with the SS for the highway bridge at Nijmegen, Holland (Silver Star). He also survived in the Ardennes, where he found himself as point man on his twentieth birthday, in a long march toward the shoulder of the Bulge.Initial chapters chronicle his training before mobilization, when he lied about being 15 to the National Guard in Erie, Pennsylvania, and his later experience in a heavy weapons company of the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. In 1941, Wurst was on a truck returning from First Army maneuvers in the Carolinas to Indiantown Gap Military Reservation when he heard the news of the attack at Pearl Harbor. He recounts life at Camps Livingston and Beauregard in Louisiana, and at the newly formed Parachute School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was stationed in the infamous "Frying Pan" area. "Descending From The Clouds" portrays the passage from innocence to experience. Wurst tells his story as the coming of age of the American military: fewer than twenty men per company who started with the 505 in the Frying Pan returned home.