HQ Co./2nd Battalion
I have attached a photo of a 517th trooper, my grandfather Burton Stadler. I had mentioned him in the mail call months ago, but have not received any responses from other veterans who may have known him during the war. I thought I would send in this photo and some background info to give it another try.
Although he was officially attached to HQ Co/2nd Battalion as a pathfinder, I believe he also served with members of F Company after being wounded in early February, 1945 (and possibly E Co as well). He was 29 yrs old upon his arrival to camp Toccoa and Victor Cawthon, who was a good friend of his, tells me they were the "old men" of their group. Another S-2 trooper, Hugh "Jack" Dillard, said that my grandfather took over for Bob Farmer as leader of their S-2 group after Sgt. Farmer was killed early on in Italy.
Like many other family members, a lot of the information I have about the war is pieced together from letters, award citations, etc. His first award citation for the Bronze Star mentions action near Le Muy, France 15 August 1944 during which his pathfinder group was attacked by an enemy company en route to marking a drop zone. Another citation mentions action near Diedenberg, Belgium 21 January 1945 in which Company E was suffering casualties from a German machine gun position.
According to my Dad, he was probably one of the first troopers to hit the ground in Southern France with his pathfinder group, as he believed he was first out of the lead aircraft. As the son of German immigrants, my grandfather had a fair understanding of the German language, though I'm not sure if he was able to use this during the war.
Although our old records and letters provide a lot of information, I would really appreciate learning more about my granddad's experiences during the war. Also, if this photo gets to you OK, I will send a few more that some of the veterans may find interesting.
Lastly, in one of my father's letters my Grandfather mentions a series of boxing matches between 517th troopers and 13th Division members the results of which were quite lopsided in favor of the 517th, with quite a few KOs. I am stationed as a Navy Doc in Pensacola, FL and would enjoy hearing from any veterans who may live down here in the panhandle or get medical care at the Navy Hospitals in FLA.
Received July 2002