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
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 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
with a Christie "Combat Car."
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. .
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
PLATOON that we have written as a part of the extended manuscript of Bless 'em
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
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
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 Ridgeway’s “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 “E”Company, 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."
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
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,
"The Top Kick"
Weiss in the
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