LINKING THE 2/503's. 
Don Abbott


To trace the steps necessary to link the Second Battalion of the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment with the 2/503,  one needs to understand the Company letter designations for the present and former 503rd are different. 

The World War II Regiment consisted of the First Battalion including a HQ & HQ Company and three rifle Companies; “A”, “B” and “C”.  The Second Battalion included a HQ & HQ Company and three rifle Companies; “D”, “E” and “F”.   The Third Battalion included a HQ & HQ Company and three rifle Companies; “G”, “H” and “I”. 

The WW II outfit did not have a fourth Infantry Battalion but the 462nd Parachute Artillery Bn and the 161st Parachute Engineer Company were assigned to it, forming a Regimental Combat Team.

Linking the Second Battalion of the old 503rd Regiment with the present 2/503 Battalion, the two HQ & HQ Companies would be the same.  The new “A” Company would correspond to the old “D” Company, the new “B” Company would correspond with the old “E” Company and the new “C” Company with the old “F” Company.

The Second Battalion, had a distinguished Combat history during World War as did the 503rd Parachute Combat Team as a whole.

The whole Second Battalion jumped at Nadzab, New Guinea on 5 Sept 43 . While it did not engage Japanese forces directly, the Company accomplished its mission of blocking the enemy from evacuating Lae by a favorable route, forcing them to follow a route which, eventually, decimated their ranks..

The successful completion of the Nadzab operation has been said to have been instrumental in saving the concept of Vertical Envelopment after several far from impressive operations by other Parachute units in Europe and North Africa .

The Second Battalion had been slated to jump on Noemfoor Island off the coast of Dutch New Guinea on 5 Jul 43 .  But heavy jump casualties incurred by the First Battalion and the Third Battalion on 3 Jul 43 and 4 Jul 43 , respectively prompted the Regimental Commander to postpone the drop by the Second Battalion.  The Second Battalion landed on Noemfoor from landing craft on 9 July 43 .  From that time the entire Battalion participated in a campaign to eliminate the Japanese forces  occupying the Island .  During one skirmish Sgt. Ray Eubanks earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Following the end of fighting on Noemfoor the Second Battalion, and the rest of the 503rd was moved to Leyte Island , the Philippines which had been invaded by other US troops several weeks earlier.  The Regiment launched an amphibious landing from Leyte seizing sites for airfields on the Island of   Mindoro .  E Company and the Second Battalion led the advance into the area designated for the first air field to be constructed.  Subsequently, several  airfields were built on Mindoro .  They were used extensively to support later landings on the main Philippine Island of Luzon.  While stationed on Mindoro the Battalion observed many “Dog Fights” between US and Japanese airplanes.  On the night of  26 Dec 44 the Battalion was shelled for 25 minutes by a Japanese Naval task force.

In February 1945 the Regiment was given the honor of retaking the Island of Corregidor from the Japanese forces which had captured the Fortress on 6 May 42 .  The Second Battalion and the Third Battalion jumped on Corregidor on 16 Feb 1945 .  That jump has been characterized many times as the most difficult Combat jump ever made. The First Battalion came in by landing craft on 17 Feb. In planning the mission to recapture Corregidor , the number of enemy troops occupying the Island had been estimated by intelligence sources to number some 800 plus, or minus.  Japanese sources have, since, estimated there really were about 6550 Japanese on the Island .  Of that number 50 survived.

The Second Battalion was given the responsibility of eliminating the enemy in the Western part of the head of the Island , an area of approximately one square mile.  Each Company of the Second Battalion met significant resistance in the process of accomplishing its mission.  On the night of 18/19 Feb 45  Japanese “Banzai” forces struck “D” Company and “F” Company.  During the fighting that night, Pfc.Lloyd G. McCarter, in “F” Company, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The Second Battalion, along with the remainder of the 503rd Parachute Regimental Combat Team, returned to its base on Mindoro shortly after the Island was reviewed by General Douglas MacArthur.  Almost immediately the Combat Team was alerted for a mission to jump on Negros Island to assist the 40th Infantry Division which had bogged down in its efforts to subdue Japanese forces on that Island .  The original plans called for the 503rd to jump on the Northern end of the Island and to prevent the Japanese from demolishing a large hardwood lumber mill and several bridges in the area.  Unfortunately, the Japanese blew a key bridge and burned the lumber mill.  Plans for a combat jump were abandoned and the Combat Team landed by amphibious craft.

By the end of World War II in August 1945 the 503rd had incurred some of the most brutal combat of the War on Negros , fighting the persistent Japanese force which occupied the Island .  At the end of the War approximately 7500 Japanese  prisoners were taken by the 503rd.

During WW II the Second Battalion lost 120 men and Officers killed.



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Last Updated: May 6, 2002