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.
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.
JON T. HOFFMAN
U. S. Marine Corps Reserve