Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II

505th PIR

Phil Nordyke’s “Four Stars of Valor: The Combat History of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) in World War II” is excellent. It is a must-read for any student of World War II.

Mr. Nordyke does a great job as he takes us with the 505th PIR from its beginnings and training in the United States, through its deployment to North Africa, and through its campaigns in Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Holland, the Bulge, and Germany before returning home.

Record Four Combat Jumps

The book takes its title from the 505 PIR’s record four combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno/Naples, Ste Mere Eglise/Normandy, and Nijmegen/Holland. Stars representing participation in combat jumps had been worn unofficially on parachute wings during and after World War II. FYI – this practice did not gain official sanction until after the 1983 invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury.

Sicily and The Secrets of Ultra

I found it a book that that demanded I read every word on every page. Be prepared for some very graphic descriptions of the training and combat. You’ll feel the heat of North Africa. I was disappointed as I read the Hermann Goring Fallschrim Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier Divisions were on Sicily, that General Bradley knew it, and because of secrecy of Ultra they did not pass this information on to the attacking forces! “This was a cruel deception of our own forces, but necessary in order to protect the secrets of Ultra.”

Excellent Job of Using Primary Sources

Mr. Nordyke does an excellent job of using primary sources. At first, I was a little confused when I encountered an incident that was described from multiple people’s points of view, but quickly saw the value in seeing the way more than one person viewed/remembered an incident. It helped paint a more complete picture. Pages 300 – 301 and the actions of Private Camille E. Gagne’s response to the killing of First Lieutenant John Dodd is one example. The coverage giving to the 505th’s role in Nijmegen Holland is very detailed and had me feeling I was there.

The Battle of the Bulge

The 505th PIR’s involvement didn’t stop after its fourth jump into Nijmegen/Holland. They played a key role being deployed by truck into Belgium’s Ardennes Forest as the 82 Airborne Divisions helped stop Hitler’s in The Battle of the Bulge in freezing December 1944 and January 1945.

The book has exception maps and an amazing index. This book should be required reading for active duty members wearing jump wings. It is a must addition to any military historian’s library and would be an excellent addition to all university and community libraries.

“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” by Patricia Chapman Meder. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.

Did Joseph Heller commit a disservice to the members of the 340th Bomb Group when he wrote Catch-22? Did author  Patricia Chapman Meder write an apologetic defending the real four officers some feel Joesph Heller blindsided when he made them into Catch-22’s four heavy hitters?

“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” is a combination of both plus I feel some admiration for Joseph Heller making those men infamous.

There is a reason the original Catch-22 is found in the fiction not nonfiction section of bookstores. Joseph Heller didn’t write a memoir of his service during World War II. He wrote a satirical and somewhat historical novel.

Patricia Chapman Meder uses rare and unpublished photos to bring our actual heroes to life through use of first person narrative.

There is a third part in her book that is actually the book’s heart. She takes twelve men of the 340th and relates twelve true tales.

Fans of Catch-22 will enjoy the book. It makes good use of diaries, logs, and photos to bring the people to life. For those unfamiliar with Catch-22 the book will make you curious enough to pickup Heller’s book.

“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” would make a nice companion volume or commentary for the serious student of the original work. It would make a nice inclusion in university or community libraries as a resource for Joseph Heller’s book.

I recommend “The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” by Patricia Chapman Meder. The publisher is Casemate Publishing.

Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II

Did Joseph Heller commit a disservice to the members of the 340th Bomb Group when he wrote Catch-22? Did author  Patricia Chapman Meder write an apologetic defending the real four officers some feel Joesph Heller blindsided when he made them into Catch-22’s four heavy hitters?
“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” is a combination of both plus I feel some admiration for Joseph Heller making those men infamous.
There is a reason the original Catch-22 is found in the fiction not nonfiction section of bookstores. Joseph Heller didn’t write a memoir of his service during World War II. He wrote a satirical and somewhat historical novel.
Patricia Chapman Meder uses rare and unpublished photos to bring our actual heroes to life through use of first person narrative.
There is a third part in her book that is actually the book’s heart. She takes twelve men of the 340th and relates twelve true tales.
Fans of Catch-22 will enjoy the book. It makes good use of diaries, logs, and photos to bring the people to life. For those unfamiliar with Catch-22 the book will make you curious enough to pickup Heller’s book.
“The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” would make a nice companion volume or commentary for the serious student of the original work. It would make a nice inclusion in university or community libraries as a resource for Joseph Heller’s book.
I recommend “The True Story of Catch – 22: The Real Men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II” by Patricia Chapman Meder. The publisher is Casemate Publishing. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.