JUMP JACKET AND RELICS OF PVT. ROBERT LEE HENRY, 82ND AIRBORNE
A fine assemblage of items related to the service of Pvt. Robert Lee Henry III, a Floridian who at the age of 18 enlisted at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta in the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, a component of the 82nd Airborne which came to be known as the "Red Devils". The lot, obtained with a notarized letter of provenance from Henry's son describing the jacket, includes a variety of material. Present are: Khaki jump jacket with regulation belt, zippered front closure with four front pockets, each bearing double snap button closure, double snap button wrist closures, pleateded rear, with several holes, small stains and wear entirely consistent with use in the field; a roughly 3' x 1 1/2" section of camouflaged rayon, presumably a parachute remnant; brown bakelite Army wrist compass and strap, maker Taylor; Henry's 508th PIR "challenge coin" bearing his name and serial number; two dog tags and chain; his ribbon bar with three bronze stars and presidential unit citation pin; silver Combat Infantry Badge; 82nd Airborne shoulder insignia, Purple Heart, Good Conduct and European Theater medals (two named); jump wings with combat star; infantry and U.S. collar pins, what appears to be a section of helmet chinstrap; and a non-regulation Schrade automatic knife. Also present is a 6" x 8" repro of a wartime portrait of Henry in uniform, as well as his son's signed and notraized letter of provenance. It mentions that Henry: "...jumped into Holland during the war..." and bears multiple images of the jacket. An excellent grouping, very difficult to assemble! The 508th PIR was activated on 20 October 1942 at Camp Blanding, Fl. and Pvt. Henry enlisted nine months later. The unit participated in Operation Overlord, jumping into Normandy to capture Sainte-Mère-Église, and secure crossings at the Merderet River near La Fiere and Chef-du-Pont. It suffered nearly 50% casualties. The regiment also participated in Operation Market Garden, during which it established and maintained a defensive position over 12,000 yards long and held a key bridge in Nijmegen.