Gold jump wings
Philip Hoyle sent me this clipping of a wartime Fort Benning Bayonet newspaper. It mentions gold jump wings that were not officially authorized to wear but were given to Sgt. Karl N. Best, 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment and 501st PIB to commemorate his 50th Jump.
It’s worth noting here that the 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (later Battalion) had a rocky start and it’s prospects of ever seeing combat almost vanished. The 542nd was disbanded in July 1945. You can read a short history here.
The Fort Benning Bayonet has many Airborne related articles & photos. They cover 1943-1945 and beyond: https://www.benning.army.mil/Library/Bayonet/index.html. I will surely be mining them for further interesting articles!
Hi Mister Has, Thank you for this great information. Although I am a novice, I would like to point out a mistake in your article “Gold Jump wings”. You mention Sgt. Best served in the 501st PIR. The Bayonet article states that he served in the 501st Parachute Battalion. It is somewhat difficult to find information on the 501st Parachute Battalion(sometimes referred to as the 501st PIB). This is significant as this is the first Airborne unit formed, with much of the test platoon included in it’s ranks. This was also the first unit to be deployed outside of the U.S., sent to Ft. Kobbe, Panama.(the Bayonet article mentions the Canal Zone.) Unfortunately the Army did not recognize the historical importance of keeping this unit together. C company stayed in Panama to help form the 551st PIB, the rest of the battalion helped to form up the 503rd PIR.
Hello Fred, thanks for pointing this out. I realize that references to 501 PIB and PIR were often mixed, even during the war and even when referring to the same soldiers, which obviously adds to the confusion. Also, a 501 PIB existed after the war.