The story of the airborne is not representative of that generation of veterans. One need look no further than how the parachutists treated the glidermen—they weren’t volunteers, usually. And when you get to the nitty gritty statistics regarding things like hospitalization for mental conditions within the division, the gulf is even more apparent. I think Anton Myrer’s two WWII novels (The Big War & Once an Eagle) are some of the best on the intangibles of soldiery life in WWII; James Jones (The Thin Red Line) takes it a little too far the other direction, in my opinion.

What I do think is the true myth, and it’s true enough it shouldn’t be a myth, is “taxi driver” going to far lands to fight — the democratic soldier (see Ernie Pyle’s writing). And the actual myth about the airborne is their purity. Especially in our value-judgement society, the BoB would be cancelled if some knew the misdeeds.

America’s view of the airborne, and airborne operations in a practical sense (as is the subject of Ridgway’s Notebook), has been irreversibly skewed by BoB. Although we all need our myths.

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