82nd Signal Battalion - The Commander's Voice
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History of the 82d Airborne Signal Company and its involvement in World War II.


Less than four months following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States' entrance into World War II, the 82d Signal Company was ordered to active duty. On 15 August 1942, the unit was reorganized and re-designated as the 82d Airborne Signal Company and the Airborne tab was added to the "All American" patch.

The Signal Company's first taste of combat during World War II came on the night of 9 July 1943, when a signal detail supporting the 505th Parachute Combat Team (commanded by Colonel James Gavin) parachuted behind enemy lines at Gela to spearhead the invasion of Sicily. The campaign was marked by a tiring game of leap frog. The company established and maintained eight separate command posts. Upon completion of the Sicilian campaign, preparations were made for future operations on the Italian mainland. The Company supported the 504th and 505th Parachute Combat Teams already in Salerno. Following the capture of Naples, the Signal Company moved to Ireland for rest and recuperation.

By the spring of 1944, the Company was reinforced with fresh replacements. This period was marked by a strenuous training regimen in preparation for the upcoming invasion of France. The Signal Company would once again return to the soil of France in the name of Freedom.

On 6 June 1944, paratroopers of the Signal Company filled three C-47s and seven gliders in preparation for the D-Day assault. In 33 days of extreme combat following the initial assault, the Company suffered the following casualties: nine enlisted paratroopers killed in action, one officer and seven enlisted paratroopers missing in action and 26 paratroopers injured. No replacements were provided for these paratroopers. The high amount of casualties coupled with no replacements and a high loss of equipment due to glider crashes seriously impeded the operational effectiveness of the Company for combat operations. In spite of these circumstances, the Company maintained communications. Once again, uncommon valor was the norm. Paratroopers from the company received one Silver Star, six Bronze Stars and 16 Purple Hearts. The Company was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the French De Guerre with Palm and the French Fourragere.

The Company was sent back to England to prepare for the upcoming invasion of Holland, Operation Market Garden. The unit was brought to full strength and reequipped. On 17 September 1944, the Signal Company made its third combat jump into Holland.

The "All American Signalmen" returned to France to rest and refit but were quickly on the move again. On 17 December 1944, the Company was alerted to begin movement to Werbomont, Belgium. Once in Werbomont, wire and radio communications were established to all Division units. At Sessone, France, they quickly modified the wire network and Division Command Post network to meet the changed requirements of divisional headquarters and subordinate units. The Company then began a series of movements with the Division as they drove deep into the heart of Nazi Germany. At Ludwigslust, Germany, the Company maintained and repaired over two hundred miles of commercial wire, installing and operating the telephone system at the Division headquarters. In Berlin, Germany, the Company installed a telephone central office and provided local phone service to the Division Command Post. A Division message center, referred to as Champion Radio, was set up to provide secure and rapid message transmission. The Company remained in Berlin until their return to the United States aboard the Queen Mary on 3 January 1946. On 12 January, more than one million enthusiastic spectators gave the 82d Airborne Division troopers a gala reception as they headed a tremendous victory parade up New York City's Fifth Avenue.

On 19 January 1946, following a much needed furlough, the Company reassembled at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In March of 1948, the Company was demobilized and allotted to the Organized Reserve Corps. Nine months later they were reactivated and allotted to the Regular Army and the 82d Airborne Division.


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