Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
One Of The Few World War II Paratroopers To Make 4 Combat Jumps With The 82nd Airborne Has Died
Fewer than 3,000 paratroopers made four combat jumps with the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II.
Following the death of retired 1st Sgt. Harold Eatman, fewer than 16 of those paratroopers are alive today.
First Sgt. Eatman, 102, died Friday at his home in Matthews, near Charlotte, according to the 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy, and Holland during the war, taking part in some of the most famous battles of the European theater.
A spokesman for the division said fewer than 2,800 paratroopers were involved in all four of those combat jumps.
"Harold Eatman was among the generation of All American paratroopers who defeated Nazism, liberated Europe, and inspired many generations of paratroopers to follow," said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division. "We always say that when you wear the Double A patch, you walk among legends. One of those legends has passed."
First Sgt. Eatman was an original member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, which now forms the core of the 82nd Airborne’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
He volunteered for the Army in early 1942, shortly after learning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in Hawaii, first, then re-enlisted to join the brand-new force of paratroopers trained to jump behind enemy lines.
“He heard about this new unit, the airborne, being formed and how tough they were supposed to be,” 1st Sgt. Eatman’s grandson, Michael Kelley, told the Observer in 2015.
In 2015, 1st Sgt. Eatman was one of eight North Carolina veterans recognized for their efforts to liberate France during World War II. The veterans received France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor.
Kelley, who also served with the 82nd Airborne Division, said his grandfather was an inspiration.
“Some of my first memories of my grandfather are looking through an old, leather-bound edition of Saga, the WWII history of the 82d Airborne," Kelley said in a statement on Saturday. "I made my first five jumps with his wings in my pocket for luck and he pinned my wings on me at graduation from jump school. My grandfather influenced my whole life.”
“The 82nd is part of my family’s history, and my family is part of the division's history,” he added. “My grandfather was the first paratrooper in my family, but not the last. Myself, my older brother and his son all served in the 505.”
First Sgt. Eatman was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, two Army Commendation Medals and the Senior Parachutist Badge with four bronze stars.
After World War II, 1st Sgt. Eatman volunteered to stay on active-duty as part of a funeral escort service that transported soldiers’ bodies from Europe to America.
He later joined the 108th Infantry Division, an Army Reserve unit based in Charlotte, where younger soldiers nicknamed him “Pops.”
©2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Senior defense officials offered a wide range of excuses to reporters on Wednesday about why they may not comply with a subpoena from House Democrats for documents related to the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 7, lawmakers subpoenaed information about military aid to Ukraine. Eight days later, a Pentagon official told them to pound sand in part because many of the documents requested are communications with the White House that are protected by executive privilege.
Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) will announce legislation Wednesday aiming to "fix" a new Trump administration citizenship policy that affects some children of U.S. service members stationed abroad.
The inside story of how The Village People shot the Navy's most controversial recruiting video onboard an active warship
The video opens innocently enough. A bell sounds as we gaze onto a U.S. Navy frigate, safely docked at port at Naval Base San Diego. A cadre of sailors, dressed in "crackerjack" style enlisted dress uniforms and hauling duffel bags over their shoulders, stride up a gangplank aboard the vessel. The officer on deck greets them with a blast of a boatswain's call. It could be the opening scene of a recruitment video for the greatest naval force on the planet.
Then the rhythmic clapping begins.
This is no recruitment video. It's 'In The Navy,' the legendary 1979 hit from disco queens The Village People, shot aboard the very real Knox-class USS Reasoner (FF-1063) frigate. And one of those five Navy sailors who strode up that gangplank during filming was Ronald Beck, at the time a legal yeoman and witness to one of the strangest collisions between the U.S. military and pop culture of the 20th century.
"They picked the ship and they picked us, I don't know why," Beck, who left the Navy in 1982, told Task & Purpose in a phone interview from his Texas home in October. "I was just lucky to be one of 'em picked."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday casually brushed aside the disturbing news that, holy shit, MORE THAN 100 ISIS FIGHTERS HAVE ESCAPED FROM JAIL.
In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Esper essentially turned this fact into a positive, no doubt impressing public relations and political talking heads everywhere with some truly masterful spin.
"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."
Well, I feel better. How about you?
On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.
A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."
"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.
President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.
"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."
The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."
Kade Kurita, the 20-year-old West Point cadet who had been missing since Friday evening, was found dead on Tuesday night, the U.S. Military Academy announced early Wednesday morning.
"We are grieving this loss and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of West Point, said in the release.