1922-1944 — Norwalk, Huron Co. OHIO
William R. "Bill" Mack was born on 18 June 1922, in Norwalk, Huron County, Ohio, the son of William Earl and Olive M. Mack. He graduated from Norwalk High School, on 06th June 1940. In High School, he had been a four year member of the Hi-Y Club, which was a high school department of the Y.M.C.A. and the Norwalk Organization was part of the Northern Ohio District Hi-Y Council. In the 1940 Norwalk High School Yearbook, The SIGNAL, Bill listed his ambition as, a Pilot.
After Graduation, Bill moved to Cleveland, Ohio, was living at 3121 101st Street, and was employed by Republic Steel Corporation in Cleveland.
On 04 December 1942, he enlisted in the Army, and after a brief furlough, Bill left for training on 12 December 1942. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he trained as a Paratrooper. In mid-August, the 101st received orders for transfer overseas and upon arriving in England, the 101st was quartered in Wiltshire and Berkshire, where it continued to train.
Bill rose in Rank, earning promotions from Private, to Private First Class (PFC), to Corporal, and then attaining the Rank of Technical Sargeant.
On the 6th of June 1944, the Infamous D-DAY Allied Invasion of Normandy, France, As the air assault force approached the French coast, as part of Operation Neptune, it encountered fog and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the planes to break formation. Paratroopers from both the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions jumped in the dark morning before H-Hour, descending from the skies, to seize positions west of Utah Beach, but they missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas, and 1500 soldiers from the division were killed or captured. T/Sgt. William R. "BILL" Mack, was among those Killed In Action.
Eight months later, on 21 February 1945, Bill's brother, Richard Mack, was also Killed In Action on board the Air Craft Carrier, USS Bismarck Sea, which was struck by two Kamikaze planes within two minutes of each other, while taking part in the Iwo Jima Operation. She sank as a result of her damage and 318 men of her crew were lost.
INDEXED as MACH
15 April 1930 Census/Norwalk/Huron Co./Ohio/Roll: 1823/ED-20/Page: 11A
Household Members: Name Age Family #:293-308
William E Mach/Head of Household/44/1st married at 36/OHx3/Agent/Extracts
Olive M Mach/Wife/28/1st married at 19/OHx3
William R Mach/Son/7/OHx3
Joan K Mach/Daughter/6/OHx3
Richard P Mach/Son/5/OHx3
Ellen J Mach/Daughter/4yrs-1month/OHx3
Daniel A Mach/Son/2yrs-11months/OHx3
Colleen A Mach/Daughter/8months/OHx3
Living at 129 Woodlawn Ave
World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938 - 1946
ARMY SERIAL NUMBER 35524579 35524579
NAME MACK#WILLIAM#R########## MACK#WILLIAM#R##########
RESIDENCE: STATE 53 OHIO
RESIDENCE: COUNTY 035 CUYAHOGA
PLACE OF ENLISTMENT 5323 CLEVELAND OHIO
DATE OF ENLISTMENT DAY 04 04
DATE OF ENLISTMENT MONTH 12 12
DATE OF ENLISTMENT YEAR 42 42
GRADE: ALPHA DESIGNATION PVT# Private
GRADE: CODE 8 Private
BRANCH: ALPHA DESIGNATION BI# Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
BRANCH: CODE 00 Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
FIELD USE AS DESIRED # #
TERM OF ENLISTMENT 5 Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency,
plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
LONGEVITY ### ###
SOURCE OF ARMY PERSONNEL 0 Civil Life
NATIVITY 53 OHIO
YEAR OF BIRTH 22 22
RACE AND CITIZENSHIP 1 White, citizen
EDUCATION 4 4 years of high school
CIVILIAN OCCUPATION 126 Paymasters, payroll clerks, and timekeepers
MARITAL STATUS 6 Single, without dependents
COMPONENT OF THE ARMY 7 Selectees (Enlisted Men)
CARD NUMBER # #
BOX NUMBER 0953 0953
FILM REEL NUMBER 5.15# 5.15#
William R. Mack Cuyahoga County, OH U.S. Army National Archives
TEC5 William R. Mack ID: 35524579
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Hometown: Cuyahoga County, OH
U.S. Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945
Name: William R Mack
Cemetery Name: Ohio
Disposition: According to next of kin
Service Branch: Army
Rank: Technician Fifth Grade
Service Number: 35524579
HISTORY OF THE 101ST AIRBORNE
Originally organized in November 1918, the 101st was demobilized the following month, and later reconstituted in June 1921 as an Organized Reserve unit. The division was organized that September at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with reservists, most of whom were individually called into federal service after the outbreak of the war. The reserve division was disbanded 15 August 1942, and concurrently reconstituted in the Army of the United States as the 101st Airborne Division.
The airborne division was activated at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, with recently promoted Maj. Gen. William C. Lee, commanding. The airborne capability was to be provided by two glider infantry regiments (GIRs), the 327th and 401st, and one parachute infantry regiment, the 502nd, though the latter was still stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. This mix of glider and parachute regiments was a matter of great debate, and these units were augmented in the coming months by the 506th and 501st Parachute Infantry.
MG William C Lee With the 101st designated as an airborne division, all that remained was to train its soldiers to qualify for their new mission. In October 1942 the division moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and joined by the 502nd PIR, began its training under the Airborne Command. Rivalry between the division's parachute and glider elements developed rapidly. The paratroopers were considered to be elite troops and received extra money or "parachute pay" for their hazardous missions. The glider troops, however, had duties just as dangerous but were authorized no extra pay. This situation continued through 1944, with unit commanders doing their best to keep the peace within their ranks. Throughout these difficulties the 101st continued to train and to reorganize, attempting to acquire airborne qualified personnel for the necessary positions.
By the spring of 1943 the division was ready to face its first test in local maneuvers. Immediately following these maneuvers, the 101st left to take part in the Tennessee maneuvers, a larger scale operation. Preceding the exercise, on 10 June 1943, the 506th Parachute Infantry was attached to the division. The SCREAMING EAGLES' performance throughout the maneuvers was impressive as they demonstrated the capabilities of U.S. airborne forces. During these maneuvers, however, General Lee was injured in a glider. He later remarked, "Next time I'll take a parachute," which provided the overlooked glider troops with some measure of satisfaction, if not extra pay.
The division returned to Fort Bragg, continuing to train and perform various airborne demonstrations for visiting officials until mid-August, when it received orders for transfer overseas. Arriving in England, the 101st was quartered in Wiltshire and Berkshire, where it continued to train. The early months of 1944 were a time of change for the 101st Airborne Division.
In January the 101st received its third parachute regiment, the 501st Parachute Infantry. On 5 February General Lee, who had championed the airborne cause from the beginning, suffered a heart attack. Although he had brought the division from its initial organization through training for the fight in Europe, General Lee was not to be part of the 101st's baptism of fire. He was relieved of his command and returned to the United States. Brig. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, former commander of the 82d Airborne Division Artillery, assumed command of the 101st on 14 March. The division underwent another organizational change that month, when the 2d Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry, was permanently transferred to the 82d Airborne Division. The 1st Battalion was attached to the 327th Glider Infantry to operate under that regiment as a third battalion. The 1st Battalion, 401st GIR, was made an official element of the 327th GIR in April 1945.
Training in England, the 101st participated in three formal exercises: BEAVER, TIGER, and EAGLE. During Operation BEAVER at Slapton Sands on the Devonshire coast, elements of the division jumped from trucks instead of planes with the mission of capturing the causeway bridges that crossed the estuary behind the beach. The division performed much the same mission during the second exercise, Operation TIGER. Operation EAGLE, held during the second week of May, was the division's dress rehearsal for its role in the coming Normandy invasion. The 101st, this time jumping from actual planes, was once again assigned to capture the causeways leading away from a simulated beach. Although a misunderstanding caused most of the division to jump at the wrong coordinates, the mission was accomplished and the exercise was considered a success. The division then returned to its stations to continue preparation for the coming battles on the continent.
D-Day - Operation Neptune
The 101st Airborne Division first saw combat during the Normandy invasion - 6 June 1944. The division, as part of the VII Corps assault, jumped in the dark morning before H-Hour to seize positions west of Utah Beach. Given the mission of anchoring the corps' southern flank, the division was also to eliminate the German's secondary beach defenses, allowing the seaborne forces of the 4th Infantry Division, once ashore, to continue inland. The SCREAMING EAGLES were to capture the causeway bridges that ran behind the beach between St. Martin-de-Varreville and Pouppeville. In the division's southern sector, it was to seize the la Barquette lock and destroy a highway bridge northwest of the town of Carentan and a railroad bridge further west. At the same time elements of the division were to establish two bridgeheads on the Douve River at le Port, northeast of Carentan.
As the assault force approached the French coast, it encountered fog and antiaircraft fire, which forced some of the planes to break formation. Paratroopers from both the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions missed their landing zones and were scattered over wide areas. For many the first struggle of combat was to find their units; 1500 soldiers from the division were killed or captured. When units or soldiers finally assembled, they had difficulty in identifying their locations relative to their objectives. The paratroopers of the 101st were promised reinforcements at dawn, when 51 of the division's gliders were scheduled to land. The gliders, however, had problems of their own. Many of the gliders crashed, and several soldiers of the division were killed, including Brig. Gen. Don F. Pratt, the assistant division commander. A second glider landing at dusk that day produced even more casualties.
The men of the division, however, persevered and proceeded with their assigned missions as best they could. By nightfall soldiers from the 101st had secured the beach exits in their zone and contacted the landing forces of the 4th Division. The SCREAMING EAGLES also controlled the la Barquette lock, but could not secure crossings on the Douve River. The following day 101st elements attempted to advance in the division's southern sector, but made little progress against heavy enemy resistance near the village of St. Côme-du-Mont. That same day General Eisenhower directed that American efforts be focused on closing the gap between the V and VII Corps. The VII Corps received orders to capture the town of Carentan, and the 101st, already in position outside St. Côme-du-Mont to the northwest, was given the task.
On 8 June elements of the 501st and 506th Parachute Infantry, along with the 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry, engaged a German force in the town of St. Côme-du-Mont. The 3d Battalion, 501st PIR, took positions south of the town, along the highway to Carentan where it encountered the enemy. The 1st Battalion, 401st Glider Infantry, was called to aid the 3d Battalion, but the enemy withdrew before the glider troops arrived. Both of the 101st battalions pursued the retreating enemy, but there was no additional contact. The Germans had abandoned the town, and the SCREAMING EAGLES moved in to plan the next step in the drive on Carentan.
The attack on Carentan was to be two pronged. The right arm of the drive was to cross the causeway northwest of Carentan, bypass the town, and continue to the southwest to occupy La Billonerie, also called Hill 30, which, it was thought, covered potential escape routes available to the Germans. The left arm of the assault was to cross the Douve River near Brevands, with the main body of that force continuing on to Carentan, while a smaller portion of the force moved east to the Vire River to contact the V Corps.
Lt Col Robert G Cole Commanding Officer 3rd Battalion - Medal of Honor Recipient The 3d Battalion, 502d PIR, led the right drive along the causeway. Progress, however, was extremely slow. The men of the 502d advanced along the causeway with no cover, facing steady fire as they moved forward. The battalion inched along until it reached the bridge on the Madeleine River and ran into a strong enemy position concentrated in an old farmhouse and the adjoining hedgerows. Lt. Col. Robert G. Cole, (picture right) the battalion commander, called for artillery fire on the position, but it did no good. Pinned down, he ordered a charge with fixed bayonets. Colonel Cole leapt up to lead the charge, but not all his men had gotten the word. The executive officer prodded the men along, and Cole continued with the soldiers that had followed. The Germans withdrew from the farmhouse, and the charging soldiers cleared the hedgerow positions. Cole was awarded the Medal of Honor for his efforts that day. Unfortunately, he was killed in a later division operation before receiving his medal.
Having suffered heavy casualties in its trek along the causeway, and being in some disarray after the bayonet charge, the battalion could not pursue the withdrawing enemy. The 1st Battalion, 502d PIR, came up through the line to follow the Germans. The 1st Battalion, however, had advanced along the same causeway, under the same fire as the 3d Battalion, and was also unable to make the pursuit. The two battalions, instead, dug in to defend the newly taken position. Their defenses were put to the test the next morning when the Germans launched a strong counterattack. Throughout the day the battalions held their ground until they were finally relieved by the 2d Battalion. Elements of the 506th Parachute Infantry relieved the beleaguered battalions of the 502d on 12 June. By that evening the 506th had completed the drive past Carentan and occupied Hill 30.
While the 502d struggled along the causeway, the 327th Glider Infantry, with the battalion of the 401st, had led the left wing attack. On 10 June elements of the force crossed the Douve River and occupied the town of Brevands. Company A, 401st Glider Infantry, continued southeast towards the town of Auville-sur-le-Vey to contact the V Corps. Encountering stiff German resistance outside the town, the company broke through the enemy line to make contact with elements of the 29th Infantry Division, part of the V Corps. The 327th, after crossing the Douve, had orders to seize both the railroad bridge and the highway bridge that crossed the Vire-Taute Canal, blocking the eastern escape routes from Carentan. The regiment succeeded in capturing and holding the highway bridge, but the railroad bridge was blown in the fight. The men of the 327th crossed the canal and continued their fight toward Carentan until enemy resistance halted their progress about a half mile from the town.
Brig Gen Anthony C McAuliffe At General Taylor's direction, Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, commander of the 101st's artillery, coordinated the final drive for Carentan, which took place on 12 June. Throughout the night of the 11th, the town was placed under heavy fire, but, unknown to the U.S. forces, the main body of Germans withdrew under cover of darkness. The following morning the 2d Battalion, 506th PIR, entered Carentan from the southwest and connected with the 1st Battalion, 401st GIR, which approached from the northeast. Once the two battalions had linked up they proceeded to clear the town of the remaining enemy stragglers. Under orders to secure the approaches to the town, the 501st and 506th moved along the roads to the southwest, while the 327th advanced to the east. Both groups, however, met enemy opposition, and their progress was limited. On 13 June the Germans launched a fierce counterattack in an attempt to retake the town. The U.S. First Army directed elements of the 2d Armored Division to support the 101st in defending Carentan. Together the Americans stopped the enemy thrust and held the town.
Two days later the VIII Corps became operational, and the 101st was reassigned to the new headquarters. With the mission of establishing defensive positions across the Cotentin Peninsula, the VIII Corps gave the SCREAMING EAGLES responsibility for securing the left flank of the VII Corps. On 27 June the 83d Infantry Division arrived and relieved the 101st. Two days later the 101st was relieved from the VIII Corps and sent to Cherbourg to relieve the 4th Infantry Division. The 101st remained as a First Army reserve until mid-July, when it returned to England for rest and training.
The division had suffered considerable personnel and equipment losses during the Normandy battles. The 101st spent the summer replacing equipment, training new soldiers, and waiting for its next mission. At about the same time General Eisenhower called for a headquarters that would oversee the Allies' airborne troops. In August 1944 he established the First Allied Airborne Army, controlling elements of the American and British (and Polish) Armies. The new army was put to the test in September 1944 during the Allied thrust in northern Europe: Operation MARKET-GARDEN.
The D-Day invasion began with a dangerous attack by American paratroopers. Dropped behind enemy lines to soften up the German troops and to secure needed targets, the paratroopers knew that if the accompanying assault by sea failed -- there would be no rescue.
Departing from Portland Bill on the English coast, the 101st and 82nd U.S. Airborne Divisions were dropped on the Cherbourg peninsula. From that point, the 101st was to secure the western end behind UTAH and head off an eastern German advance. The 82nd, landing farther inland, was to seize the bridges and halt an advance from the west.
Risky Operation, Heavy Losses
Heavy fog and German guns proved formidable challenges. The pilots were unable to drop the paratroopers precisely as planned.
The 101st Division suffered great losses. Only one sixth of the men reached their destination points. The first regiment of the 82nd Division fared better, but the second suffered heavy supply losses -- much of the division was left without sufficient arms. Still, both divisions managed to form smaller improvised squads, and organized themselves to wage a fight. By 0430, the 82nd had captured the town of Ste-Mere-Eglise.
A Weight on Their Shoulders
Paratroopers carried an average of 70 pounds of equipment. Officers averaged 90 pounds of gear. With the parachute, men weighed in at 90 to 120 pounds over their body weight.
The paratroopers were jumping into unknown territory and needed to be prepared for any encounter or conditions. Here's what they took:
Standard Parachutist pack
M-1 Garand Rifle with 8-round clip; cartridge belt with canteen
hand grenades; parachute and pack
anti-flash headgear and gloves; pocket compass
machete; .45 caliber Colt automatic pistol; flares; message book
(British, but similar to American officer pack)
Sten gun; spare magazines with 9mm ammunition
2 lb. plastic high explosives (HE); 2-36 primed hand grenades
two full belts of Vickers; .303 ammunition
wire cutters; radio batteries; small-pack
basic equipment webbing; 48 hours' worth of rations
water; cooking and washing kit
Spread throughout pockets
loaded .45 automatic pistol; medical kit; 2 additional lb. HE; knife
escape/survival kit; toggle rope; additional personal items
4 pieces of chewing gum; 2 bouillon cubes
2 Nescafe instant coffees; 2 sugar cubes, and creamers
4 Hershey bars; 1 pack of Charms candy; 1 package pipe tobacco
1 bottle of water purification (Halazone) tablets to purify water. "To use: Put two tablets in canteen full of water (approx. 1 qt.) and shake briskly. Wait 30 minutes before drinking water. If water is dirty or discolored, use 4 tablets."