History of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment   
  by Leo F. Kocher  
  On 12 November 1942, the Department of the Army issued orders to create the 511th PIR as part of the newly-created 11th Airborne Division. Under the leadership of Colonel Orin “Rock” Haugen, the 511th became a highly successful and decorated unit, seeing intense combat throughout the Pacific Theater. Despite treacherous conditions in which many soldiers suffered casualties and died, the unit fought with bravery, and more importantly, experienced great success in every aspect of its campaign. Because of the unit’s unique organization, its great leadership, and the cohesion of its soldiers, the 511th PIR established itself as a source of pride and accomplishment for the United States Army.  
  On January 5, 1943, at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, the 511th Parachute Infantry (PIR) was activated, under the command of Lt. Col. Orin D. Haugen, with the First Battalion under the command of Maj., Ernest J. LaFlamme, the Second Battalion under the command of LTC Norman Shipley and the Third Battalion under Maj. E.H. Lahti.  Under Maj. Lahti’s direction a processing system was set up for the Regiment by means of which the volunteers for Parachute duty from all over the country, who were being sent to this Regiment in order that it might take its pick, could be screened.  Not only did the Regiment demand an I.Q. of 100 or better, but every man was personally interviewed prior to his acceptance:  Only 35% of the volunteer’s met the Regiment’s high standards, the other 65% being rejected and sent elsewhere.    
  However, the number of volunteers was so great, that even with such stiff requirements, the Regiment rapidly filled up.  After the First and Second Battalions were up to strength, the same processing set-up was used to organize the 475th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, (under LTC Douglas P. Quandt, now Division Chief of Staff), and Company C-127th Airborne Engineers.  Following this the Regiment commenced a move to Camp Mackall, NC, while the Third Battalion built up to its strength.  When it reached Camp Mackall, on March 23, 1945, the 511th PIR was complete.  
  At Camp Mackall it became part of the 11th Airborne Division, the first non-converted Airborne Division in the U.S. Army and here the training of the Division continued.  Since most of the men had come to the Regiment straight from induction, their entire training, from Basic on up, was Airborne design, a great advantage to the men and the Division.  The cadre of the 511th PIR was selected manly from the 505th PIR which was then stationed in Fort Benning, GA.  The Regiment was formed from about 12,000 recruits, of which about 3,000 were selected to start basic training. From the latter number around 2,000 troopers formed the Regiment, of which 173 were commissioned and 3 were warrant officers.  
  On March 23, 1943, the 511th PIR closed at Camp Mackall, NC to join the 11th Airborne Division, under the command of Major General Joseph M. Swing. Following 17 weeks of Basic training, the 511th journeyed to the Fort Benning Parachute School for three weeks of jump training.  It should be noted, with all the extensive training, no 511th PIR soldier who boarded a C-47 refused to make the jump.  
  In December of 1943, the 511th returned to Camp Mackall for Advanced Training. The success of the Knollwood Maneuvers was very instrumental in the continued use of Airborne troops during the remainder of World War II.  
  Early in January of 1944, the Division went to Camp Polk, Louisiana, and engaged in the famous and rugged Louisiana Maneuvers.  In April 1944, the Division traveled by train to Camp Stoneman, CA.  On May 8, 1944, the 511th PIR departed from Pittsburgh, CA on the SS Sea Pike with about 2,000 troopers that had been disguised as a "Straight Leg" infantry unit.  The ship had been built by the Western Pipe and Steel Corp. and launched in Feb. 1943.  The ship was 492 feet long, with a beam of 70 feet.  She drew 29 feet of water and her steam engines pushed her at 17 knots. On May 28, 1944 the Regiment arrived at Oro Bay, New Guinea.  While the 511th was in Strategic Reserve in New Guinea (May - October 1944), they conducted Airborne, Jungle and Amphibious training.  On Nov. 7, 1944 the Regiment departed New Guinea by ship (USS Cavalier) for the Leyte Campaign in the Philippines. From November 18 to December 27 the Regiment participated in the Leyte Campaign in the Abuyog, Dulag, Burauen, Anonang, Manaraawat, Lubi, Mohonag and Anas areas.  
  After the 511th set out for Burauen, on the eastern slope of the mountains, its immediate objective was relieving a battalion of the 17th Infantry.  Since a thrust across the mountains by the Japanese 26th Infantry was expected, the longer-term objective was the seizing and securing the mountains of the western exits from the mountains into the west (Ormoc Bay) coastal corridor (for the protection of the U.S. 7th Infantry Div.); and the destruction by offensive action of all hostile forces encountered and at the same time, maintaining contact with the U.S. 96th Infantry Div. on the right.  
  Such a mission, in such terrain, was possible only for a light stream-lined, well-trained and completely self-reliant unit as the 511th PIR:  From Burauen across the island to the Ormoc Bay coast the terrain is extremely rugged and mountainous, consisting of knife-like volcanic ridges covered with dense “rain forest.”   Only steep hazardous foot-trails, always slipper with mud, cross the mountains.  No heavy equipment could be carried by caribou-trains, they could not “make the grade,” even 81 millimeter mortars presented a problem, both for themselves and their re-supply.  
  Having relieved the 1st Bn., 17th Infantry on November 21, 1944, the 511th 1st Bn. Started out into the mountains on the 24th.  On the 26th, Company C-511th set out, accompanied by the Regimental C.O. and part of his staff; that afternoon they ran into an enemy ambush of small-arms and mortar fire, which was the first enemy action of the campaign.  
  After ten days of grueling campaigning, elements of the 3rd Bn-511th attained “Rock Ridge,” from which Ormoc Bay could be seen.  That was a welcome change from the monotony of the rain forest.  On this Ridge the Regimental perimeter was established, from which the remainder of the campaign was fought.  Inside the perimeter was a complete operating set-up; supply depot, pug-in hospital, cemetery and a open-air church.  During the next ten days, in a series of brilliant attacks on isolated enemy strong points, the 511th reduced the enemy strength to feeble scattered resistance.  
  With all the by-passed resistance to the rear now eliminated, the order to move on was given.  The 511th pushed on down the Japanese main supply route, which it had been straddling on the Ridge, and in a couple days of stiff fighting, solid contact was made with the U.S. 32nd Infantry, of the 7th Div.  This give the U.S. forces a strong line from the east to the west coasts of Leyte and winding up the 37th day campaign.  On Christmas day 1944, the 511th came out of the mountains – the best Christmas present conceivable.  
  Following the Leyte campaign, LTC Lahti became the Regimental Executive and Major Henry Burgess was given command of the 1st Bn of the 511th PIR.  At this time, preparations got under way for the Luzon campaign; and in the latter part of January 1945, the Regiment moved to Mindoro, the jump-off place for Luzon.  
  On February 3rd 1945 the 511th jumped on Taygaytay Ridge (located about 40 miles south of Manila), at he rear of enemy forces under attack by the rest of the 11th Airborne Div. that had made a landing at Nasugbu, 15 miles to the west.  By 1300 hours that day, the 1st Bn. 511th PIR had pushed west to establish contact with the 188th Regiment.  This permitted trucks, landed by the 11th, available for the 511th’s historic dash to Manila, which began before dawn the next morning of February 4th.  
  One hour before daylight, the motor-foot shuttle began, heading north on Highway 17th toward Manila.  A 25 mile dash brought tem to the important bridge at Imus, before the enemy had time to destroy it.  After a brisk fight, the bridge belonged to the 511th.  They then dashed on another six miles to reach the bridge at Las Pinas before its demolition charges could be set off.  Another sharp fight – another vital bridge captured.  Pushing on still further, on the same day, leading elements reached the Paranaque River, here heavy fire from deeply fortified positions was met.  The 511th halted for the night, while artillery poured 1000 rounds into the enemy’s positions.  At 0500 hours on Feb. 5th the 511th, despite fierce opposition, the 511th crossed the river into Manila.  
  Here the 511th attacked the famed “Genko Line.” The Line was designed to defend Manila against a full-force U.S. landing from southern Luzon.  All roads to the area were heavily mined, with mutually supported concrete pill-boxes, some of them were two and three stories deep, to defend each block of the area which was 6000 yards in depth.  The Japanese had placed 5 and 6-inch naval guns, 150 millimeter mortars, 20, 40 and 90 millimeter anti-aircraft cannon to defend all approaches.  The 511th continued the attack north through the right-anchor of this line for the next five days.  It was house-to-house fighting, using flame-throwers and demolitions to augment firepower.  
  On Feb. 11th, the day after the 11th Abn. Div. had changed from Eight Army to Sixth Army control, orders from XIV Corps halted the advance except for patrol activity.  At 1400 hours, Feb. 11, 1945 Col. Orin D. Haugen (the Regimental Commander) was mortally wounded in the chest by shell fragment.  (He died of wounds on Feb. 22, 1945. Lt. Col. Edward Lahti, the assumed command and remained in command until August 1947.)  On 1805 hour of the same day, a 511th patrol contacted a unit of the 1st Cavalry Div. at the town of Culiculi, near the Philippine race-track, located in south-eastern Manila, just north of Nichols field.  
  On Feb. 15th the 511th, under heavy fire, took up positions facing Ft. McKinley, which stands on the heights commanding Manila, in preparatory to an attack on the Fort, which took place two days later.  For valor in the fighting for Ft. McKinley, Pfc Manual Perez, Jr., of A-511th, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  
  On Feb. 20th the 511th moved to Muntinlupa, located on the shore of Luguna de Bay, in preparatory to an attack southward along the shore and also to stage for the liberation of the internees at Los Baños prison.  On Feb. 23, 1945, in an effort to rescue the many prisoners (2,147) still under Japanese control at the Los Baños prison, B-511th, plus the light machine gun platoon from HQ1, made a dawn jump on the prison at 0700 hours.  Together with a simultaneous attack (at 0700 hour) the 11th Abn. Reconnaissance Platoon and Filipino guerrillas captured the prison.  Amtracs (amphibious vehicles from the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion) were used to transport the prisoners to safety.  
  The attack on Los Baños was timed to occur when the Japanese guards were engaged in the calisthenics, when the first trooper jumped at 0700 hours.  One half hour later the B-511th troopers had the camp secured.  The plan envisioned the immediate evacuation of all prisoners and military personnel to the security of the New Billibid prison. It was almost a textbook operation, only two Philippine guerillas were killed, and no 511th fatalities were suffered on the entire mission and all internees were rescued.    
   During the rest of Feb. and most of March the 511th fought in the Real, Mt Bijiang and Santo Tomas areas.  It was during this period that Manual Perez was killed in action on March 14, 1945.  From March 24 to April 11, 1945, the Regiment less the 3rd Battalion, operated in the Bauen and Batangas areas as 6th Army reserve. During this period, the 3rd Battalion was attached to the 188th PG and fought in the Sulac, Sapac, Talisay and Malaraya Hill areas.  
  On the 12th of April the 511th was released to the 11th Abn. Div., and was immediately assigned a leading role in the forthcoming Malepuno operation.  This mass of mountains rises out of the southern Luzon plane to a maximum height of 3160 feet and covers an area of approximately 30 square miles.  It consists of razor-back ridges, precipitous slopes and rocky gorges.  Rain forest covers valleys and peaks alike, except for the central east-west ridge, which was covered with kunai grass and bamboo tickets.  The main ridge running north from the center of the mass is less heavily wooded and is the key to the central and northern sectors, since its peaks cover all other ridges.  The Malepuno mass was defended by approximately 2000 remnants of the Japanese forces, of which the nucleus was the 17th Japanese Infantry, which were veterans of China and Manchuria.  Most of the enemy positions had been previously prepared, so they had well-dug-lines, with supplies to last six months.  
  After two weeks spent in “feeling out” the enemy, the flanking prongs of the 511th attack began their advance at dawn of April 27.  By night-fall of the 29th , the 511th was occupying all the high ground in its assigned sectors, plus one hill assigned to another regiment.  The 511th suffered 12 killed and 70 wounded, in killing 451 defenders.  
  In May 1945, base camp was set up near Lipa, Luzon.  On June 23, 1945 the 1st Battalion and Companies G and I, boarded troop transports, from the 317th Troop Carrier Group, at Lipa Airstrip and dropped by parachute near Aparri as part of the Gypsy Task Force.  The 511th PIR sustained a total of 301 killed and/or missing in action casualities during the Leyte and Luzon Campaigns.  
  August 11, 1945 the Regiment departed Luzon by air and was flown to Okinawa.  On August 30, 1945 the 511th arrived by air, at Atsugi Air Base near Yokohama to occupy the city and guard the docks from which the peace delegation left to go to the USS Missouri and the signing of the Armistice.  On Sept. 2nd, after 11th Abn. Patrols had made sure of the safety of Tokyo, the 11th Abn. Band was on hand to greet the debarking 1st Cavalry Division with the strains of “The Old Grey Mare.”  
  On Sept. 16, 1945 the 511th moved to Morioka, Japan to begin the occupation of Iwate and Aomori Prefectures in Northern Honshu. Separate companies were stationed from South Morioka, all the way north of Honshu to the city of Aomori.  At this time the First Battalion moved to Hanamaki-Onsen.  On March 2, 1946 the command of the 1st Bn. was given to Maj. Lawson B. Caskey, formerly of the 503rd RCT, another paratroop unit with an illustrious history in the Pacific fighting, climaxed by their jump on Corregidor.  In January of 1947 the scattered units started to move in to Camp Haugen near Hatchinohe.  In February 1947, Regimental Headquarters moved from Morioka to Camp Haugen.  During the months of January through March of 1947, the Regiment was brought back up to T/O strength.  
  During the post WWII leadership of Col Lahti, the morale of the 511th showed a gradual decline, until the 511th PIR command was taken over by Reynolds Condon in late 1947.  From January 1, 1948 to August 31, 1948, a total of 324 men of the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment extended their enlistments.  This was a new record for one unit throughout the entire army.  Company “H” (under the command of Capt. John Ringler) led in the rush to the Recruiting office.  Note: This is the same Ringler who led B-511th PIR on the Combat Parachute jump on the Los Baños prison.  
  In February of 1949, the Regiment less the 3rd Battalion departed Camp Haugen and returned to the United States via the Panama Canal and arrived in New Orleans in March 1949, from where it moved to Camp Campbell, Kentucky.  The 3rd Battalion remained in Camp Haugen, attached to the 7th Division, until April 22, 1949, when it departed for the United States.  
  With the outbreak of the war in Korea, on June 25, 1950, training was intensified, including reservists.  On August 1, 1950, the 187th was alerted for overseas movement and was designated the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team. To bring the 187th ARCT up to T/O strength, their ranks were filled from the 511th PIR, with most transfers being made within like units.  They departed San Francisco on September 6-7, 1950 by ship and begin arriving at the Inchon Beachhead, in Korea, on Sept. 22, 1950.  Of the 476 causalities suffered by the 187th in Korea, during the entire police action (1950-1953), it has been determined that at least 62, were in the first wave of 511th PIR troopers that had been merged into the 187th ARCT in 1950.  
  Another highlight came in March 1956, when the 511th (as part of the 11th Airborne Division) crossed the Atlantic into Europe to replace the 5th Inf. Div., in Augsburg, Germany during Operation Gyroscope.    
  The 511th's fifteen-year duration came to an end at Fort Campbell in July 1958, when they and the 11th Abn. Div. was officially inactivated.  
  On June 1, 1993, A-511th Infantry was reactivated at Fort Rucker, Alabama.  They were deactivated in Nov. 1994.  On October 1, 1997, A-511th PIR was reactivated as a Test Company for the Enhanced Fiber Optic Guided Missile (EFOGM) system, under the Command of Cpt. Stephen Inouye at Fort Bragg, NC.  It was the first and only Airborne EFOGM Company in the world.  On July 28, 2005, Cpt. Mark Chandler cased the A-511th PIR colors during the deactivation ceremony at Rose Field in Ft. Bragg, NC.  
  The 511th PIR Commanders                     Tour of Duty      
  Col. Orin D. Haugen                        Jan.   1943  -  Feb.  1945      
  Lt.Col. Edward Lahti                       Feb.   1945  -  Aug.  1947      
  Col. Reynolds Condon                    Aug.   1947  -  Sept.  1949     
  Lt.Col. M.M. Lyons                        Sept.  1949  -  Dec.   1949      
  Lt.Col. Ben Harrell                         Dec.   1949  -  July    1950      
  Col. Aubrey S. Newman                 Aug.   1950   -  Apr.   1951    
  Lt.Col. Warren T. Hannum Jr.       Apr.  1951  -   May    1951    
  Col. Broadus McAfee                     May  1951  -  May    1952      
  Lt.Col. William M. Haycock           May  1952  -  July    1952    
  Col. Curtis J. Herrick                      July   1952  -  Jan.    1953      
  Col. Robert L. Walton                     Jan.   1953  -  June   1953      
  Lt.Col. Ralph D. Burns                   June  1953  -  June   1953    
  Col. John D. Cone                           June  1953  -  June   1954      
  Lt.Col. Ralph D. Burns                   June  1954  -  July     1954    
  Col. Patrick F. Cassidy                   July   1954  -  June    1955    
  Lt.Col. Gordon K. Smith                 June  1955  -  Aug.    1955    
  Col. Herman W. Dammer               Aug.  1955  -   July     1956    
  Lt.Col. Cameron Knox                    July    1956  -  Sept.  1956    
  Col. D.E. Munson                            Sept.  1956  -  July    1958    
  1) 511th Parachute Infantry Yearbooks  
  2) Articles from the 511th PIR Association Newsletter "Winds Aloft"   
  3) Communication with fellow 511th troopers and personal knowledge.