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501st PIB, 503d PIR

As at the date this was published (June 2014) Jack is still alive and kicking, at 98.


Dear Sirs,

My name is Henry and I am a Vietnam Veteran. My father-in-law is Jacob "Jack" Weiss who was originally with the 501st Airborne Battalion which I believe later became the 503rd. He has a "certificate" for his jump wings dated April 1940 and another "certificate" for a combat jump on a Japanese location in Lae(?).

He was in Panama for some time from what he remembers and was the editor of a company newspaper known as the "Thunderbird". Since he's 93 his memory is a little fuzzy.

I know he was in the Pacific Theater from 3 Jul 41 until 25 Mar 44.

He got out in Jul 45. I also know from records that he has a Combat Infantry Badge, Jump Wings, and several other ribbons. Just wondering if I have found the correct site. In the States he was part of the Parachute Test Platoon and one of his commanders was Major William M. Miley. Just trying to piece together his military history. Thanks!

Henry J. Kaden


Jacob "Jack" Weiss.


JacK Weiss at Ft. Benning


Jack at Ft. Benning



Probably taken early after the issue of their .45's. The cloth cap was used early in training and

was replaced by a football-style helmet wich significantly reduced head injuries.


Weiss with a Christie "Combat Car."

The U.S. had purchased small numbers of Walter Christie's "combat cars" for evaluation, but were not enthused. Money for development was tight, and there were political, conceptual and doctrinal constraints -  tanks could only be owned by the Infantry, and cavalry units had to conceal them from Congress by calling them "combat cars." The lack of foresight stultified development - the Soviets also purchased two, fixed the relatively minor deficiencies in the design, and went on to develop the ultra-successful BT series of fast tanks around them. In turn, the Soviet T-34, the most effective, efficient and influential design of WWII,  was developed based upon Christie's concepts. .



Dear Henry,

The personnel of the Test Platoon are listed in various materials across the web and US Paratrooper lore, and we have a copy listing included in a piece on THE TEST PLATOON that we have written as a part of the extended manuscript of Bless 'em All.
Based only on these, it's quite possible, indeed, given that there were only 48 in the extended Test Platoon, the word becomes probable, that your father-in-law was in the 501st, though not in the Test Platoon. The identity of one man is an insider's secret. He held the first jump honor, Number One, but when the time came, Number One could not jump. He was transferred out and his name not spoken of thereafter.



Maj. Miley commanded the 501st PIR, its first Commander.














There's more written about the 501st in "THE ORIGINAL 503d PIR" also featured on our site.

Many of the 501st were posted to Panama. That's certainly consistent.

I have no info about the "Thunderbird" at this point.



The Nadzab certificate was to be signed by the Regimental Commander, Col. Kinsler,
but such was not to be the case. Kinsler was dead before they were signed.


His name doesn't appear on the Nadzab roster, or the Templeman roster for Corregidor, but given the circumstances, I do not consider either of those is definitive.

Welcome to the site and I hope you find much that is enjoyable here.






Thanks for the response. I know he's not jumper number 1 because I saw his certificate for his jump wings and the certificate for his combat jump. I have his Honorable Discharge but they didn't have DD214 forms, they were another form number then. I have to do more research and I am sending for all his records. At 93 his memory isn't what it used to be but at his age, can he complain? He did get the wings some time in April of 1941, if that's a help. It started as a Battalion at first then got changed to a Regiment(?) and changed into the 503rd if I understand him correctly. I also understand that he was a boxer while in the Army and was undefeated. He's a tough old guy! Besides Panama, he was stationed in Australia. I just was wondering if this is the correct site?

Henry J. Kaden



The Kellet YG-1 Gyroplane

The Gyroplane was a direct-control autogyro, and was being evaluated by the U.S. Army.   It proved to be an unstable craft at best, and prone to mishaps should the centre of gravity move from the centre of rotation.  Essentially they competed with conventional aircraft and in that respect their slow-flying and short-field capabilities were insufficient to merit ignoring the development of helicopter technology, which wasn't far behind. The helicopter offered vertical take-off and hovering, both features which made the autogyro irrelevant.




Weiss, as an MP, is well proud of his duty for the day.

It may have seemed like a trifle at the time, or a media puff-piece of Teutonic one-upmanship, but the moment it was discovered that Hanna Reitsch was able to fly a helicopter inside a sports stadium, the whole point of  autogyro development became moot.  Funding dried up because the concept had outlived its utility.




Dear Henry,


For someone who served in both Panama and Australia, yes, you are at the right place. Some measure of confusion on the formation of the 503d PIR is understandable, even in the sharpest memory - as we record at:



"The formation of the 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment was fraught with diversity and disunity. Usually, a regiment is formed with a cadre of officers and enlisted men from an existing unit. This provides the framework to be filled out with new men. The 503d was formed by combining existing units, each with its own unit loyalty and sense of independence.

Originally, the 503d was a two battalion regiment formed 2 March 1942 by combining the 503d and 504th Parachute Battalions. The 503d became the First Battalion and the 504th the Second Battalion. Before they could be welded into a solid unit the Second Battalion, commanded Lt. Col. Edison D. Raff, departed for Europe on 2 May 1942, where it eventually became the 509th Parachute Battalion.

The Third Battalion, 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated 4 June 1942 under the command of Major John J. Tolson III. This battalion was formed by 502nd troops: Headquarters Company, 502nd became Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Third battalion, 503d; A Company became G Company; B Company became H Company; and C Company became I Company.

The Regiment (First and Third Battalions) departed Fort Bragg 19 October accompanied by General Ridgeways best rifle company, A company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The temporary commander was Major Tolson, as Colonel Kenneth Kinsler, 503rd commanding officer, had gone on ahead to Australia by air.

The two battalions and A Company departed San Francisco 20 October aboard a converted freighter, the Dutch ship SS Poelau Laut. On 1 November they docked at Balboa, Canal Zone and took aboard the 501st Parachute battalion, minus its C Company. A Company, 501st became ECompany, 503rd; B Company, 501st became F Company, 503rd; and A Company, 504th became D Company, 503rd.

The new regiment was actually four units: the 501st Parachute Battalion; the 1st Battalion, 502nd Parachute Regiment; the 503rd Parachute Battalion; and A Company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Each knew in their hearts that they were superior to the others; Each were not happy to be incorporated into a regiment with lesser mortals. An ill-deserved fate had forced them into association with the other units. Distrust, jealousy, suspicion were the order of the day.

Now the 503rd was a full regiment at least on the books it was."



Dear ExO,


I was going through some old boxes and actually found his C*nt cap with the parachute on it with the blue trim!


He has some photos of himself in his jump garb and I was amazed. He originally came from the 26th Infantry where he played on both the regimental baseball and basketball championship teams.




He was also a regimental boxer. The more I nose around, the more I discover about his past and the more amazed I am because he never spoke about this stuff until I pressed him.

He is a truly amazing guy!



I have finally gotten to what I believe is the "bottom" of this question. My Father-in-Law enlisted on January 5, 1938 at 39 Whitehall Street, New York, NY. He was eventually assigned to the 26th Infantry Division out of Fort Devens, Mass.


"The Top Kick"


Weiss in the 26th Infantry.


Army life, pre-war, wasn't all serious.



He then decided to volunteered for "Airborne" training on October 25, 1940. It appears that due to the fact that he had less than a year to go they actually "discharged" him from the 26th Infantry and then cut orders to report for the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion, Fort Benning, GA (SO#246) He had to re-enlist to do this. He was transferred with Pvt. John C. Kilfoyle, PVT. Stephen B. Bates, & Pvt. Philip A. Hewitt, Cpl. Vincent D'Argenio, Pvt. Allen L. Snow and Pvt 1C Stephen Kicinski. He has a "Certificate of Proficiency" dated March 21, 1941 as a qualified parachutist from Parachute Group Headquarters signed by a Major W.M. Miley, Commanding Officer of the 501st Parachute Battalion. He is also in possession of a "503rd Parachute Infantry" Combat Mission Certificate for jumping on the Japanese Garrison at Lae, New Guinea on September the 5th, 1943.




 NCO Club card # 237 dated November 1944.


He was eventually discharged on 23 July 1945.

Henry J. Kaden