517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team

S/Sgt. Kenneth Howell "Hal" Higginbotham

E Company

From the Lakeland (FL) Ledger on 12/6/2006:

Kenneth Howell "Hal" Higginbotham (1923-2006) MS/FL

HAL HIGGINBOTHAM, 83, Law Enforcement LAKELAND - Kenneth Howell "Hal" Higginbotham died Monday, December 4 at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Cause of death was due to complications from cancer and COPD.

Hal was born in Calhoun City, MS. and moved to Lakeland in 1946 after honorable discharge from the Army. A proud member of the "greatest generation," Hal served in WWII as a member of the elite 517th Parachute Infantry. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant and several medals for bravery including a Purple Heart and two Bronze stars. Hal was wounded twice and retained a bullet in his throat. One Bronze Star was awarded for service during his refusal to be evacuated from barrage in Belgium, though badly wounded.  Despite heavy snowfall and obliteration of roads, his major said, Hal crawled and carried supplies by hand over considerable distances in snow to ensure that his company never "went without" demonstrating exemplary courage and devotion to duty.

Hal's devotion to country and extraordinary sense of duty and courage served him well during his 36 year career in law enforcement starting in 1952.  Hal was known for integrity and honesty as a top crime fighter with gifts for problem-solving, legal understanding, and "getting the job done."  While known for his ability to "outsmart the crooks" his positive influence and genuine belief in people sometimes gave them a second chance to make better life decisions and he cared enough to often follow up to see how they were doing.  Hal was adept at fostering cooperation with the "good" as well as the "bad folks."  Hal served under two sheriffs as a deputy and an officer.  He moved on to serve in various roles under five county judges and three state attorneys until retirement in 1988.  These roles included chief investigator and intake investigator for the 10th Judicial Circuit where he was a criminal justice system gatekeeper.  His investigations led to key decisions about whether cases forwarded to the State Attorney were worthy of prosecution.  After retirement he enjoyed his truck, tractors, landscaping, fishing, and "building/fixing things!"

Hal was devoted to his family and will be greatly missed by daughter and son in-law Janis and Ken Bruwelheide of Bozeman, MT, his son Kenneth and daughter in-law Brenda of Lakeland, and beloved grandchildren Lauren, Lisa, and Kenny.  His wife Nita preceded him in death in 1970.

November, 2007

Entries from MailCall and Guestbook:

Entry of Sep 25, 2003 at 07:04 [EST]
Name: Tom "Duke" Davis
Unit: G Company, 511th PIR
EMail: duque2@aol.com
How I found the 517th page: Link from another web page
Comments: Hal Higginbotham and I volunteered for the paratroops at the same time at Camp Shelby, MS. He was assigned to the 517 and I to the 511. I saw him one more time at Mackall. We were from Crowder, MS. He had a sister named Jackie. Any info would be greatly appreciated. He may be pictured in the Company E photo, but my memory is that he was in A Co. in Mackall, Thanks

The references to K. H.  Higginbotham being in Co. E are correct.  I was the original CO of Co. E and knew him well. He started out as Armorer/Articifer in Co. E and later promoted Supply Sergeant There is an interesting reference to him on Page 73 of William H. Breuer's book entitled Operation Dragoon.  He was an excellent NCO.  Dick Seitz and Bob Newberry will well remember the incident when Co. E discovered that some of the Ammo that Co. E was issued at the 2nd Battalion Departure Airfield at Orbetello was found to be defective and Dick Seitz rounded up a C-47 for me from the 440th Troop Carrier Group and I took Higginbotham and 1st Lt. Miley, 2d Bn S-4, on a fast trip to a 5th Army Ammo Dump in Civittavecchia to replace the bad
ammo in Co. E.

We were barely able to get the Ammo loaded in A-5 Aerial Delivery Containers and delivered to the correct aircraft before they taxied out and were placed in their assigned take off position. Gene Brissey and Russ Brami, also of Co. E, knew Higginbotham very well and recount many interesting stories involving Higginbotham.

Regards, Tom Cross

Entry of Nov 28, 2004 at 14:20 [EST]
Name: Janis Higginbotham
Unit: dad is Kenneth "Hal" Higginbotham
EMail: janisbru@yahoo.com
How I found the 517th page: From a search engine
Comments: Hi, My dad is Kenneth "Hal Higginbotham" and I am enjoying reading the couple of comments about him and the company picture of '44. Dad is doing well. I'll be happy to relay info to him. He does not like computers or Internet unfortunately. He's still sharp, honest and brave as ever. I'm VERY proud of him. Janis

Entry of Nov 28, 2004 at 15:27 [EST]
Name: Janis Higginbotham (Hal's daughter)
EMail: janisbru@yahoo.com
How I found the 517th page: From a search engine
Comments: My father, Hal Higginbotham, said he was part of a parachute team that did a victory jump into Berlin at end of war with all the dignitaries from countries there. Anyone had any luck researching film archives? I'll bet this item was on a reel shown in movies. Thanks. Janis