Marines in World War II
The Jump into Parachuting
Rendezvous at Gavutu
Edson's Ridge
Recuperation and Reevaluation
The Closing Shock
Special Subjects
Overseas Models
Marine Parachute Pioneers
Marine Corps Airborne Doctrine
Air Transport
Training Centers
Tables of Organization
Parachute Accidents

SILK CHUTES AND HARD FIGHTING: US. Marine Corps Parachute Units in World War II
by Lieutenant Colonel Jon T. Hoffman (USMCR)


This historical pamphlet covers the Marine Corps' flirtation with airborne operations during World War II. In tracing this story, I relied heavily on the relevant operational and administrative records of the Marine Corps held by the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland, and the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. The various offices of the Marine Corps Historical Center yielded additional primary materials. The Reference Section holds biographical data on most key individuals, as well as files on specific units. The Oral History Section has a number of pertinent interviews, the most significant being Lieutenant General Joseph C. Burger, Major General Marion L. Dawson, General Gerald C. Thomas, and Brigadier General Robert H. Williams. The Personal Papers Section has several collections pertaining to the parachute program. Among the most useful were the papers of Eldon C. Anderson, Eric Hammel, Nolen Marbrey, John C. McQueen, Peter Ortiz, and George R. Stallings.

A number of secondary sources proved helpful. Marine Corps publications include Charles L. Updegraph, Jr.'s US. Marine Corps Special Units of World War II, Major John L. Zimmerman's The Guadalcanal Campaign, Major John N. Rentz's Bougainville and the Northern Solomons, and Isolation of Rabaul by Henry I. Shaw, Jr. and Major Douglas T. Kane. A valuable work on the overall American parachute program during the war is William B. Breuer's Geronimo! The Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck contain a number of articles describing the parachute units and their campaigns. Ken Haney's An Annotated Bibliography of USMC Paratroopers in World War II provides a detailed listing of sources, to include Haney's own extensive list of publications on the subject. Many Marine parachutists graciously provided interviews, news clippings, photographs, and other sources for this work. Colonel Dave E. Severance, secretary/treasurer of the Association of Survivors, was especially obliging in culling material from his extensive files.

I would like to thank Benis M. Frank, former Chief Historian for the History and Museums Division, for his insightful advice and editing. Many members of the division staff ably assisted the research and production effort: Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian; Jack Shulimson and Charles R. Smith of the Writing Section; Evelyn A. Englander of the Library; Amy C. Cantin of Personal Papers; Ann A. Ferrante, Danny J. Crawford, and Robert V. Aqullina of Reference Section; Richard A. Long and David B. Crist of Oral History; Lena M. Kaljot of the Photographic Section; Frederick J. Graboske and Joyce Conyers-Hudson of the Archives Section; and Robert E. Struder, W. Stephen Hill, and Catherine A. Kerns of Editing and Design.

Lieutenant Colonel
U. S. Marine Corps Reserve

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Commemorative Series produced by the Marine Corps History and Museums Division