17th Airborne Division Medals of Honor
The 17th Airborne Division was activated on 15 April 1943 and deactivated on 16 September 1945. It was in combat for just sixty-five days but sustained over 6000 casualties and earned four Medals of Honor. This article recounts the stories of the recipients.
Staff Sergeant Isadore S Jachman, B Company 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Isadore Jachman was born in Berlin, on 14 December 1923. His parents travelled to the USA two years later, and settled in Baltimore, Maryland. Jachman was a graduate of Baltimore City College, and enlisted in the Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had majored in gym at college and was posted to a port of embarkation, as a calisthenics instructor. Bored with this job, Jachman was told that the only way out was to apply for the Airborne, which he did.
The 17th Airborne entered combat for the first time on Christmas Day 1944. On 4 January, the 513th PIR was attacking towards Flamierge. The 1st Battalion came under heavy fire as it crossed open ground. Two Tiger tanks concentrated their fire on Jachman’s company. His citation continues:
…seeing the desperate plight of his comrades, left his place of cover and with total disregard for his own safety dashed across open ground through a hail of fire and seizing a bazooka from a fallen comrade advanced on the tanks, which concentrated their fire on him. Firing the weapon alone, he damaged one and forced both to retire. S/Sgt. Jachman’s heroic action, in which he suffered fatal wounds, disrupted the entire enemy attack, reflecting the highest credit upon himself and the parachute infantry.
Jachman’s body was repatriated to his hometown and interred in the Adath Israel Anshe Sfard Cemetery.
Some years after the war, the villagers of Flamierge raised a statue in honour of the unknown soldier who had fought so selflessly to save their village. It was later confirmed that this was Isadore Jachman, and his name was added to the statue. Jachman is also commemorated by the Isadore Jachman Reserve Center which is in Owings Mills, a few miles outside Baltimore.
Private First Class Stuart S Stryker E Company 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment
Stuart Stryker was born on 30 October 1924, in Portland Oregon. He joined the army on 17 July 1943, just three months short of his 19th birthday. Soon after, he became a member of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division. He survived the fighting around Monty and Flamierges, and, with his fellow veterans and new recruits, trained on the Curtiss C-46 ‘Commando’ ready for the drop into Germany: Operation Varsity.
On 24 March 1945, the aircraft carrying the 513th arrived over the DZ at 1010 hours. Unfortunately, it was the wrong DZ, about a mile and a half northwest of the intended one. It was only on the ground that the troopers knew they were in the wrong place. Two Lieutenants gathered together a group of E Company men and organized an advance along a railway line. This group soon joined the rest of the company, which included PFC Stryker.
The company’s objective was a very large farmhouse, and the Americans came under heavy small arms fire as they approached along the railway. Taking cover some 250 yards from the house, the company prepared to attack. A mortar round was fired and was a direct hit. Whilst the occupants were recovering, a platoon broke cover and charged towards the house,. There was still plenty of firepower left, though, and the attack stalled after fifty yards.
Stryker’s citation explains what happened next:
[He] voluntarily left a place of comparative safety, and, armed with a carbine, ran to the head of the unit. In full view of the enemy and under constant fire, he exhorted the men to get to their feet and follow him. Inspired by his fearlessness, they rushed after him in a desperate charge through an increased hail of bullets. Twenty-five yards from the objective the heroic soldier was killed by the enemy fusillades. His gallant and wholly voluntary action in the face of overwhelming firepower, however, so encouraged his comrades and diverted the enemy’s attention that other elements of the company were able to surround the house…
Stuart Stryker’s unselfish and heroic act allowed more than 200 prisoners to be taken and three members of an American bomber crew to be freed.
Stryker’s body was also repatriated and interred in Grave 719, Section B of the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, California
Stuart Stryker shares his surname with another MoH recipient. Specialist Robert Stryker was killed near Loc Ninh, Vietnam, on 7 November 1967, whilst covering a Claymore mine with his body, thus saving the lives of several comrades. In February 2002, the US Army unveiled its new Interim Armored Vehicle, for use with by the Interim Brigade Combat Teams. The new vehicle was called the “Stryker” in honour of the two men.
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