I met Don earlier this year at one of the 101st Airborne luncheons in Farmington, MI. We wound up sitting next to each other, hit it off right away, and a friendship blossomed. Don wound up signing his name to the two Don Burgett books that I had brought along and I asked him if he would be interested in being featured on my site. Well it took him a few months before he agreed and when I saw him again in May he asked, "Do you still really want my story?" Said he didn't want to appear as vain. Oh no I declared, I'm the one who asked you and many people including myself would be interested in your history with the 101st. So he kindly shared his military history for all to see.
Military History of Donald B Straith
Registered for Selective Service and volunteered for induction on 16 Feb. 1944; inducted 24 Feb. 1944.
February 1944-June 1944 - Infantry basic and 105mm infantry howitzer training, Fort McClellan, Alabama.
June 1944-August 1944 - Training at Parachute School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
August 1944-October 1944 - Advanced parachute and demolition training, Parachute School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
October 1944-November 1944- Shipped overseas via Fort Meade, Maryland, and Camp Shanks, New York. Sailed 3 Nov. on HMS Queen Mary; arrived Gourock, Scotland, 10 Nov.
Proceeded by rail to join rear echelon of 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, at Denford Park, Hungerford, England. Flew to Camp Mourmelon, Mourmelon-la-Grand, France, and assigned to Company A, 506th P.I.R. on 28 Nov.
December 1944-March 1945 - Left with division for Belgium 18 Dec., wounded at Noville, Belgium, two days later, and evacuated form Bastogne 21 Dec. Passed through 130th Station Hospital, Cinay, Belgium; 62nd General Hospital, Eaubonne, France; 188th General Hospital, Cirencester, England; 317th Station Hospital, Finstock, England; 10th Replacement Depot, Lichfield, England; and 11th Replacement Depot, Givet, France.
March 1945-May 1945 - Returned to Co A, 506th P.I.R., at Camp Mourmelon. On 1 April the division moved to the U.S. 15th Army along west side of Rhine, where squad lost four men on night raid across the river. Co A occupied first Nievenheim, then Norf, and then Weckhoven until moving by train late in the month to Ludwigshafen. After reloading into trucks and DUKWs, the division moved east in pursuit of the German army. Co. A's battalion stayed four days in Oberkessach before continuing the chase through Ulm, Landsberg, Starnberg, and Miesbach. On the evening of 5 May, the 506th entered Berchtesgaden. The next day it moved to Bad Reichenhall, where it was on V-E Day.
May 1945-August 1945 - Division joined the Army of Occupation, with Co. A, 506th P.I.R., occupying at various times Bad Gastein, Taxenbach, and Bruck, Austria.
August 1945-November 1945 - 101st left Austria by train on 1 Aug. 506th P.I.R. arrived Joigny, France, for garrison duty two days later.
November 1945-January 1946 - Attended surveying course at Warton-American Technical School, Lytham, England.
January 1946-February 1946 - 294th Military Police Co, Neuilly, France, guarding the American ambassador during the day and his home at night.
February 1946-March 1946 - Shipped home via Camp Pall Mall, Etretat, France, on SS Tusculum Victory. Discharged at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, 23 March 1946.
Decorations & Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct, European Theatre, Victory, Army of Occupation.
Distinctions: Parachutist, Expert Rifleman, Regimental Honor Company, Regimental Rifle Team.
Roster 506th Company A
I received an inquiry from the grandson of Paul Flachbart regarding the asterisks on the above document. Well after conferring with Don Burgett and Don Straith, I received the following email this morning:
I showed the roster to George (Koskimaki) at lunch Wednesday, and he said that the men after whose names he had put an * were already dead at the time he compiled the roster. By checking my list of such deaths, I've determined that the roster was compiled around twelve years ago. There are many names omitted, and two lieutenants are shown as privates, so it isn't completely accurate by any means.
The photo below was supplied to me by one of our forum members, Moose, who is a 101st Airborne reenactor in England. This is what he said about this great find.
"I FOUND THIS PHOTO OF SOME OF THE GUYS TAKEN IN TAXENBACH, AUSTRIA, 1945. THE CAPTION READ.. 3RD SQUAD, 1ST PLATOON, ABLE COMPANY....."
BACK ROW... PFC C.E. BLANKENSHIP, PFC N.F. ALEXANDER, SGT R.R. BRUNI, S/SGT V.P. PASCIARELLI, PVT R.V. RUNYAN.
KNEELING... PFC D.B. STRAITH, CPL C.H. SHOEMAKER, S/SGT G.G. JANES, PFC D.L. COFONE, CPL A. CLAEYS.
Heard from Don and this is what he had to say about the photo:
Good morning, Marion!
How that photo does get around!! I don't know where your English friend obtained it, but I'll guess he picked it up from Dom Biello's website, http://www.ww2-airborne.us/ . I supplied it to Dom a couple of years ago. In fact, a framed 8"x10" of it is hanging on the wall next to me right now. The caption your friend supplied omitted the name of Cpl. Ernie Janssen, whose head is visable just behind that of Jerry Janes...