Ernest R. Blanchard was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II. He survived four combat parachute jumps, as well as combat duty in North Africa and the Battle of the Bulge.
He carried an SCR300, or BC1000 backpack radio as part of his duties. The radio was very heavy and he had to carry it, plus spare batteries (also heavy), in addition to the usual equipment a combat troop carries. He was a very strong individual. On one occasion the radio saved his life. There was an explosion and shrapnel from the explosion tore into the radio, but come up just short of hitting him.
This is a blog dedicated to him, and the ongoing work of writing a book about him: Where Dad Dropped In.
He participated in what is perhaps the most famous parachute jump, ever, the planeload of troops that dropped directly into the village of Ste. Mere Eglise, Normandy, France on June 6th, 1944; D-Day.
Here is a list of the men that jumped from the plane that night:
Company F 2nd Platoon Mortar Squad 6 June 1944
1. Lt. Cadish asn 0-1321274 KIA 6 June 1944 (shot on pole)
2. Sgt. John Ray asn 34005401 DOW 7 June 1944 (shot in square)
3. Sgt. Edward White asn 38086247 KIA 6 June 1944
4. Corp. Vernon Francisco asn 12172603 KIA 3 Jan. 1945 The Battle of the Bulge
5. Pfc. Charles Blankenship asn 14021124 KIA 6 June 1944 (shot in tree, near Blanchard)
6. Pfc. Clifford Maughan asn 31979546 survived WWII (landed in garden, taken prisoner)
7. Pfc. Penrose Shearer asn 13067200 KIA 6 June 1944
8. Pfc. Alfred Van Holsbeck asn 15098699 KIA 8 June 1944 (Fell into burning house?)
9. Pfc. Ernest Blanchard asn 31196873 survived WWII
10. Pvt. H.T. Bryant asn 38476694 KIA 6 June 1944 (shot on pole)
11. Pvt. Phillip Lynch asn 393121178 KIA 13 Jan. 1945 The Battle of the Bulge
12. Pvt. Kenneth Russell asn 34375469 survived WWII landed on the
13. Pvt. John Steele asn 16054501 survived WWII landed of roof wounded
14. Pvt. Ladishaw Tlapa asn 36636766 KIA 6 June 1944 (shot on pole)
15. Pvt Steven Epps asn 14201815 survived WWII
In the summer of 2013, I had the great pleasure of finding my father’s WW II helmet in the December, 1944 Museum in Belgium. Here is a video of that moment: