James M. Gavin's Operation Husky

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Early in the morning of July 10, 1943, the United States and Great Britain invaded the Italian island of Sicily with the largest combined amphibious and airborne operation in the history of warfare to that time. The invasion, codenamed Operation Husky, consisted of over 180,000 men, 1,800 guns, 14,000 motorized vehicles, and about 3,600 aircraft. Up until that point in the war, Operation Husky was to be the largest airborne combat operation ever attempted by the United States Army, and the 82nd Airborne Division was to lead it. Colonel (COL) James M. Gavin had the opportunity to spearhead the airborne attack as the commander of the 505th Regimental Combat Team (RCT) under the 82nd Airborne. The 505th RCT’s mission was to drop hours before the amphibious…show more content…
As a result, the majority of the 505th RCT found themselves scattered between 30 – 50 miles from their original objectives in small units and groups, and COL Gavin himself was 50 miles to the southeast of his intended drop zone (see figure 1 in Appendix A for a map of the planned and actual drop zones of the 505th and 504th RCT’s). Upon landing, COL Gavin had no idea where he was, he had no command over his scattered troops, and the only signs of combat he could see were over 20 miles away through territory certainly teeming with enemy. However, he did the only thing he could think of for a soldier to do, he took off on foot in the moonlight toward the gunfire. COL Gavin’s character drove him forward to accomplish his mission. The Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP) 6-22 defines character as a “person’s moral and ethical qualities, [that] give a leader motivation to do what is appropriate, regardless of the circumstances or consequences.” COL Gavin knew nothing else but to go directly toward the enemy because he imbedded his identity as a soldier into his character, and his only motivation was to accomplish the mission he was given

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