This article is an overview of magazine covers featuring US paratroopers. This did not necessarily mean that the magazines also featured articles related to the cover photo. That was rather the exception, and if it was the case, the pictures inside were usually disappointing. So they now make great collectables for framing, not so much for reading.
I have divided the article into a section for civilian magazines and one for military magazines. All covers have been resized to the same format, but most civilian magazines like “LIFE”, “Collier’s” and “The Saturday Evening Post” were in the same large format. “Yank” was the same format, but “The Infantry Journal” was much smaller. There were some very small format magazines distributed in liberated Europe, such as “U.S.A” and so-called “Pony editions” of civilian magazines, especially for the Armed Forces, like “TIME”.
LIFE, May 12, 1941
LIFE, September 7, 1942
LIFE, August 14, 1944
This must be one of the earliest articles on the new paratroops. Note the Riddell helmet, the T-4 and the M-1928 Thompson.
Gliders, just like paratroops were a new phenomenon in warfare. These are glider pilots and troops in training.
This must be THE best known wartime photograph of a paratrooper. Lt. Kelso C. Horne, platoon leader of 1st Platoon, I Company, 508 PIR in Normandy. Read all about him in “America’s Finest’ by Gary Howard.
LIFE, August 19, 1940
Collier’s, November 20, 1943
Douglas Airview, September 1944
This is the earliest of all magazines on this page. It’s about the parachutists in training. Must be the very beginning.
This is an interesting photograph of paratroopers training with carrier pigeons. Two pigeons are in the first type harness attached to the reserve chute on the lefts and 8 more in a special drop container on the right.
This looks like spray-painted camouflage of an M-1942 jump suit and very well camouflaged face and hands. In the background is a camouflaged parachute canopy.
Saturday Evening Post, September 12, 1942
Liberty, April 22, 1943
Liberty, July 17, 1943
Beautiful painting of paratroops on a practice jump. Is this corporal jumping without a reserve?
Note how this magazine speaks freely of ‘our invasion army’. This was 6 weeks before D-Day. How secret did the Allies really keep their broad intentions?
This title already speaks of post-war jobs for servicemen. In fact, Germany was loosing its dominance in the spring of ’43, but the war was still far from won for the allies. On the cover is Cliff Doud who was a Para-Marine with the 5th Division in Iwo Jima during WWII.
This cover features the same photograph as in the Liberty magazine on the left.
Has airborne General Ridgway on the cover.
Paratrooper in a ‘posed’ jump from the door of a C-47.
November 3, 1942
I searched a long time for this one. It has a beautiful cover.
I didn’t even know this one existed. Just found it by chance. Inside is a story of the 503rd PIR in training with color photos, which is quite uncommon inside WWII magazines. All troops wear M2 helmets, many with the early cardboard liners. Some readers pointed out in the comments section that the paratrooper on the cover is PFC Robert L. Green. Apparently this is documented in the January 12, 1943 Edition of Look Magazine on page 62 where Mr. & Mrs. L.H. Green of Stephens, Arkansas sent in a picture and a thank you to the magazine which states “The Paratrooper on your Nov 3, 1942 Cover is our son, PFC Robert L. Green. Thank You for giving him this honor!
U.S.A. was an American propaganda publication, distributed in France after the liberation. The cover shows a much used stock-photo of a paratrooper in training. Other issues of U.S.A. exist, but I don’t have those yet.
March 13, 1944
Photo of a training jump. Note the pouch on his left hip. I have not been able to identify its purpose. The contents of the magazine provide no further clues.
October 2, 1945
Infantry Journal featured several covers with paratroops. Inside, however, it was a dull professional Army publication.
Another nice cover.
This is a magazine published by the Army in the ETO. The quality of the paper is very bad, so generally these magazines are in poor condition.
Yank, August 1, 1943
Yank, March 24, 1944
Yank, February 18, 1944
The shoulder insignia is that of the Aviation Engineers. Their job was to land their equipment by glider to build or repair captured airstrips
(p. 219 America’s Finest, Gary Howard).
Paratrooper in New Guinea.
This is the same cover as before, but this is another edition, which appeared almost a week earlier.
Yank, June 30, 1944
Yank, June 26, 1944
Yank, July 2, 1944
You find this photograph in many books. It’s Ike interviewing members of the 101st Airborne ready to board the aircraft.
This is the same cover as before, but this is the Caribbean edition, which appeared a few days earlier.
Paratrooper boarding C-47 for the invasion of Southern France.
Yank, December 24, 1943
Yank, July 9, 1944
A Yank with Santa jumping alongside a paratrooper. Inside is an interesting full-page article about Belgian Commandos.
Another Yank with paratroops on the cover. Also a picture found in many books of paratroopers handing out ration tins to French civilians.
You can contribute too:
This article describes the magazines that I own or have pictures of, but there are more. You are welcome to contribute with any additional pictures and information you may have.
The November 3, 1942 issue of Look magazine cover photo is Robert Green from Stephens, Ar. Later he married and moved to Duncan, ok. where he died in 1959.
I am a relative of Robert Green. I would love to talk to you about him.
In the January 12, 1943 Edition of Look Magazine on page 62 Mr. & Mrs. L.H. Green of Stephens, Ark sent in a picture and a thank you to the magazine which states “The Paratrooper on your Nov 3, 1942 Cover is our son, PFC Robert L. Green. Thank You for giving him this honor!
I am a former US Army Paratrooper myself an I collect Airborne Related Print Ads to which I came across this tidbit of info…thought I would share as I would want someone to do the same for me!
Kenneth Peck CW3 (R) US Army
Hello Kenneth, thanks for picking up on that. I will add this info on the page. Very interesting! If you have any ads with paratroopers that are missing here and you’d like to contribute with a photo, please do!
I like your site which I found when doing an engine search for Life magazine military articles. I just published my father’s wartime letters from 1943-1945 as 101st Airborne Paratrooper and radio operator. In one of his letters, he mentioned that Life magazine interview him. So I thought it would be nice to try and find it. Anyway, the book is Comes A Soldier’s Whisper, publishing his letters that have finally found a voice some seventy years later.
All the best,
Jenny Tharp La Sala
May 28, 1951, Life magazine has a falling paratrooper. Inside it discusses war against the Soviet Union and the strategy we may use.
can you please tell me how i can purchase a copy of the nove 3 1942 magazome that is my cousin robert green on the cover of this mgazne thanks becky
Hello Becky, I bought mine on eBay. This one is hard to find though. In any case, all of these magazines in good conditions are pricey. You can buy mine. I’ll send you an e-mail. Regards, Wouter
Hi Becky. I am also a relative of Robert Green, therefore your cousin too! I am working on our family tree and would love to talk to you about him.
Hello – what amaxing chance you run a site dedicated to magazine covers featuring paratroopers – hoping you can help me out. I have been told my grandfather (wwii paratrooper) was on the cover of LIFE or LOOK magazine, but not familiar with what he looked like as a young soldier and can’t find him by searching his name (fred pfeiffer) – any help would be greatly appreciated.
Hello Brian, Was your grandfather at the Battle of the Bulge? I seem to remember a photo of a GI in a foxhole on the cover of one of the magazines, but can’t remember. Maybe it was that one. I don’t find it listed here on this site, though.
As a 21 yr. Old U.S. PARATROOPER I was stationed at Ft. Campbell, Ky. In 1962. On my way to father’s funeral while at a bus station in Tennessee I saw a magazine that had a Cover picture of a U.S. PARATROOPERS and an extensive article on their training at Ft. CAMPBELL. I SERIOUSLY thought of buying that magazine to take home and show it to my family. After consideration, I decided NOT to buy it, since I thought it was NOT the time to go home and kind of brag about being a PARATROOPER.
UNFORTUNATELY, I do not remember what magazine that was. It might have been LIFE, LOOK orTIME. I do remember it was a well recognized.
Now that I’m old, I would very much like to own a copy of the pertinent magazine to leave my wife and daughter. I’m willing to pay a fair price for one. If anyone knows of one, PLEASE E-MAIL me as soon as possible.
Thank you, R.L.A.
My husband has a Liberty magazine publication July 17, 1943
Paratrooper on the front cover
That’s nice. It’s a great cover.
My dad Pfc Nicholas L Bonilla was in 502nd, 101, survived D-Day, KIA Market Garden. Love your website. Helps me to understand a man I never knew. My book, For Love and Honor: A True Story of a Screaming Eagle and a Courageous Woman, based on more that 500 letters is available on Amazon.
Hi Sandra, thanks for your comment. I will check out the book on Amazon.
Recently, I rewatched the entire Band of Brothers series including the commentary by the actual paratroopers.
One of the comments included someone referred to a 1942 LIFE magazine article (cover story?) that convinced him that AIRBORNE was what he wanted to do along so many others.
Do you know where I might find that specific article?
Capt Keith Leistekow AF-Ret
And NO, I am no hero
Hello Keith, I got your email and will reply there, but to my knowledge there was no 1942 LIFE magazine with an article on paratroopers. However, LIFE did an article on glider troops that year, and it did have a very small article on paratroopers in 1940 and another one in 1941. So either he meant one of those, or it was in another magazine.
HELP!! I Have had NO LUCK finding an article in either LIFE, LOOK or Saturday Eving Post in June 1962 featuring U.S. Paratroopers while on my way to my father’s funeral. I was a 21 yr old with the 101 st. ABN. At the time I was in NO MOOD to go home with that magazine. Today as a 77 yr. I would very much like leave that magazine to my daughter when I pass. Please Help. I saw that article at the Nashville, Tenn. Greyhound Bus Station.
Hello Raul, I will see what I can do to help. I would like you to find it! Regards, Wouter
This might be it.
Man’s Magazine July 1962 Parachute cover
Jumpin Jim Gavin Two Star Platoon Leader story
There is a copy on Ebay now.
I found another copy here;
Thanks for sharing this. I will do a post on it. Such a colorful cover!
I am looking for a Look Magagzine issue probably from 1943. There is a picture of my Dad in it sitting on a tank somewhere in Northern Africa, Tunisia? He was in the First Battalion of Rangers led by Colonel Darby.
Thank you, Kassy Dugger
Is that the issue that relates to the invasion of Sicily? The photograph undoubtedly was taken by Phil Stern and may also appear in his book. I think I can help you if you reach out.