Sgt. 1st Class Michael Stroud, a platoon sergeant assigned to D Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division salutes the casket of Pfc. Harvey Brown, a World War II veteran formerly assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, during a funeral at Fort Bliss National Cemetery on Fort Bliss, Texas, March 5, 2021. Pfc. Brown was one of less than 3,000 Paratroopers to make all four combat jumps during World War II and fought in Italy, France, The Netherlands and Belgium. | Photo by Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett 82nd Airborne Division
Family members and Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division mourned the loss of Pfc. Harvey Brown during a funeral service at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery on Fort Bliss, Texas, March 5, 2021.
Paratroopers from D Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Abn. Div. supported the service with pall-bearers and an honor guard. They rendered all appropriate honors for a fallen member of the All American Division and presented his family with the tradition folded U.S. Flag.
“It’s a great honor to be here to lay this great Paratrooper to rest and give him a final send off,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Stroud, a platoon sergeant assigned to D Co. ““It’s important that we continue to honor our fellow Paratroopers and Servicemembers that came before us because they are a key part of what we are.”
Private 1st Class Brown, a native of Chicago, Il., was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division during World War II and was one of the last surviving veterans who made all four combat jumps with the All American Division: Operations Husky and Avalanche in Italy; Operation Overlord in France; and Operation Market Garden in The Netherlands. He also served in Belgium during the brutal cold of the Battle of the Bulge.
“When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, starting off our involvement in World War II, he (Brown) wanted to fight,” said Jesse Jackman, Brown’s grandson. “He was seventeen at the time and thought, ‘How can I get and join the baddest people I know, the 82nd?’”
Brown enlisted in the U.S. Army on June 15, 1942 and completed basic training at Fort McArthur, California followed by Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon completion of his training, he was sent to New York and boarded a troop ship bound for North Africa for additional training in preparation for the invasion of Italy.
“Sicily was my first combat jump,” Brown said in memoirs he wrote before his death. “I happened to land in a field of tomatoes; plump, red tomatoes as far as the eye could see. They were delicious and well worth the jump. With our training, it didn’t take long to defeat the Italians and German 15th Panzer Division.”
He left for the United Kingdom upon completion of the campaign in Italy to prepare for the invasion of Europe. During Operation Overlord, Brown’s unit destroyed a bridge in order to prevent a German Panzer Division from gaining access to the beach and aided in liberating the town of Sainte Mere Eglise. What he recalled most about the jump, however, was the amount of equipment they carried.
“When we jumped into France we had to take everything we would need with us into that jump… this was normal in all combat jumps,” his memoirs read. “There was a lot we had to manage, such as, three anti-tank grenades called Gannon grenades, a rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition, six hand grenades, a .45 caliber pistol with 50 rounds, bayonet, Paratrooper jump knife, main parachute on the back with a reserve on the front, three boxes of K-Rations, shovel for digging in, helmet, flashlight, canteen of water and first aid packet. All of these supplies weighed 400 pounds, which included my bodyweight.”
Brown continued to serve in the European theatre through the end of the war, including the jump into Holland during Market Garden and fighting in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. Finally, he made the push into Germany.
“We crossed the Elbe River in Germany and found an entire German army ready to lay down its arms,” his memoir reads. “Within a week it was finally over.”
After the funeral service, the Paratroopers laying Pfc. Brown to rest noted the importance of his service.
“He lived the legacy that we all now follow,” said Stroud. “This is a great Paratrooper we are giving our final respects to. He made all four combat jumps during World War II and did the impossible, he survived all four and lived a full life after.”