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Who Was Colonel Orin D. "Hard Rock" Haugen? Part 2

This is Part 2 of our series on the legendary Colonel Orin D. "Hard Rock" Haugen #18254. You can read "Part 1: Who Was Colonel Orin D. "Hard Rock" Haugen?" by clicking here.

While there is an unfortunate scarcity of research out there in regards to the 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and the 11th Airborne Division to which the 511th PIR belonged, there has been even less written or documented regarding the men who fought as Angels in World War II. While the 511th PIR served under two leaders during the war whom were greatly revered, the man who laid the foundation for the regiment's historic achievements was given an appropriate nickname for such accomplishments: Hard Rock.

Camp Mackall

Four days after Colonel Orin D. Haugen's 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment closed on North Carolina's Camp Mackall in March of 1943, they became the first fully-formed unit of Major-General Swing, Joseph May's new 11th Airborne Division, the first unit to headquartered at the new camp.

Opened just six weeks prior to the 511th’s arrival, the 56,000-acre post (a sub-installation of Fort Bragg) was originally named Camp Hoffman after the nearby rail station. On February 8, the War Department issued General Order Number 6 renaming the post after Private John T. Mackall, a paratrooper from the 503rd PIR killed by strafing Vichy French fighters during Operation Torch (John was wounded on November 8, the same day construction on the camp began, then died three days later).

When Colonel Haugen’s regiment arrived at Mackall, they found their new beds spotlessly made by the barrack’s previous tenants, the 82nd Airborne’s 504 and 505 PIRs. The luxuries did not last as Hard Rock ordered their clean, white sheets replaced with rough wool blankets. His paratroopers thought the actions harsh until they discovered that their small coal-fed heaters were less-than-adequate against the night’s chill (those bunking far from the stoves stoked them red hot at night which singed the eyebrows of the closer men).

Haugen’s young regiment was joined at Mackall by the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and the 187th and 188th Glider Infantry Regiments. Of the original 12,000 men who volunteered for the 511th, only 2,176 remained (2,000 enlisted, 173 officers and three warrant officers). Camp Toccoa’s endless PT, Haugen's enthusiastically-supported brutal runs on Currahee, the mock jump towers, and Hard Rock's demands for excellence had eliminated nearly 10,000 men who did not meet the Colonel's standards.

And yet, unlike their Commanding Officer, most of the men were not yet paratroopers and while they could wear parachutist patches on their garrison caps, they had yet to earn their jump wings. That was about to change. While Colonel Haugen's cadre fought to select who would serve as their NCOs and in their squads, Hard Rock decided to give his regiment one final test before jump school. Orin ordered a two-week bivouac maneuver that included a twenty-five-mile march out to the mission area where the 511th lived in pup tents and participated in several combat simulations and problems. The last night was spent hiking the twenty-five miles back to Mackall in full kits.

Averaging five miles an hour, the men were told that if they fell out, they would be transferred. Given that many were suffering from dysentery at the time, the march was doubly challenging, yet the regiment finished Haugen’s exam. When the column passed through Mackall’s gates and turned into the 511th’s area, Col. Haugen and his staff stood proudly outside RHQ where Hard Rock loudly proclaimed his congratulations for a job well done. 

“It almost made it worthwhile!” commented D Company’s new Company Mail Orderly Cpl. Murray Hale, reminding us of Orin's penchant for withholding praise. Not because he didn't care or was oblivious to his men's accomplishments, but rather because it just wasn't his style.

After three additional months of training under Haugen's watchful eye, the 511th changed locale once more and this time his men felt greater anticipation.

“We were on a high all the time,” Private First Class Billy Pettit explained.

On May 14, Orin's regiment loaded into trucks for the six-hour trip to Fort Benning’s parachute school.

Fort Benning

Little has been recorded regarding Hard Rock's activities during the weeks his regiment spent at Fort Benning's Jump School. No doubt Orin kept a sharp eye on the training of his men, although the actual training was left to Jump School staff. He was superbly proud of the fact that his men had worked so hard at Camp Toccoa that they were deemed physical fit enough to skip Phase A, or the first week, of the normally four week jump school. And I can only imagine him trying to stifle grins when the PTR instructors told his smirking men to do push-ups only to see Hard Rock's Boys do double the ordered amount...just for fun. 

As one of America's first airborne officers, I'm sure Orin remembered his own parachute training from nearly three years prior as he listened to his men singing the famous cadence “Blood on the Risers” (or “Is Everybody Happy?”) to the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. In a somewhat grisly fashion, the song refers to a new paratrooper whose main and reserve chutes fail to open, leading to a plunging death. Some of the other new cadences included “Beautiful Streamer”, set to Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer”, as well as “Oh, How I Hate to Jump Out of a Transport,” set to Irving Berlin’s “Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.”

Over the next three weeks During Phases B, C and D Orin watched his men learn proper Parachute Landing Forms, jump from mock towers, experience the dreaded "Nut Cracker", practice Judo, and much more. Wanting his men to excel in all aspects of basic soldiery, Hard Rock stressed that all his paratroopers qualify as “Marksman” (160 points) if not “Sharpshooter” (187 points); “Expert” (212 points) was, of course, celebrated and Colonel Haugen elected to promote the 511th’s enlisted men who did so by one rank.  

When it came time for his men to complete their required five qualifying jumps (including one nighttime jump), Orin was "as pleased as punch" that not a single 511th man froze in the door. Every single one of Haugen's troopers graduated Jump School, a fact that made the already-proud Colonel (and regiment) even more proud.

When I asked my grandfather, 1st Lieutenant Andrew Carrico III of Company D what he thought of his first test jump, he laughed and said, "I was thinking, ‘I must be nuts to do be doing this’. But it was nice... It was a nice, sunshiny day and once the chute opened you knew it was safe.”

After completing their fifth and final jump (and night in full gear), Colonel Haugen's pinned "The Silver Badge of Courage" onto many of his men's chests (his battalion commanders handled the rest) and personally signed their jump certificates (you can see an example here). While I cannot confirm that Orin signed all of them, every one I have seen bears his signature, so I assume that he signed all 2,000+.  

Back to Camp Mackall

After returning to Camp Mackall, the “graduates” wore their paratrooper uniforms with confidence and gave their Corcoran jump boots a glowing polish. They also made sure their garrison caps sat tilted on their heads and to weigh down the front of their caps, some troopers talked the PX tailor into sewing a heavy coin behind their paratrooper patches highlighted blue for infantry, red for artillery and gold for medical. Officers like Colonel Haugen wore caps trimmed with black and gold piping while the enlisted men wore light-blue and gold.

Orin's officers also participated in the traditional Prop Blast Ceremony during which each “Blastee” downed a concoction of vodka, lemon juice, sugar and champagne out of a 75mm casing with two ripcord handles welded on either side. The 511th PIR called their larger vessel “the Haugen Bowl” and officers dipped in individual glasses. Perhaps to keep things more “civilized”, Colonel Haugen allowed his officers to have their wives or girlfriends present as well.

The freshly minted parachutists swaggered around Camp Mackall, much to the annoyance of the rest of the 11th Airborne Division which was nearly fully-formed. 100% of Colonel Haugen's regiment had qualified as parachutists and they were now cocky, dangerous paratroopers, “tougher than a 30-cent steak” as one stated. 

That toughness, and the 511th's arguably well-deserved pride, began to cause problems among General Joseph Swing's division. While Swing set high standards, many 511th officers maintained that Hard Rock’s standards were always higher and it was, at least in their opinion, starting to show.

The Generals WalkEvery Friday afternoon the division's enlisted men took their drinks outside the PX to watch Gen. Swing’s famous “Swing Sessions” or “The General’s Walk” (pictured right). With the athletic Swing in the lead followed by the division’s two brigadier generals, the 11th Airborne’s officers were led on jogs that often left those who had not yet physically measured up red in the face with heaving lungs, especially after ending on the obstacle course. 

“He always put the 511th officers at the end, because that’s the toughest place to run,” noted A-511’s 2nd Lieutenant Stephen E. Cavanaugh. “When it was over, and the rest of the (Division’s) pudgy officers were huffing and puffing, dragging their posteriors, we’d take off and sprint back to our regimental area, Colonel Haugen leading the way, to begin a real run.”

It was not uncommon for Haugen’s young son William, or “Billy”, to run alongside the paratroopers during their own pre-breakfast five-mile jogs and he affectionately became known in the regiment as “Pebble”, the son of “Hard Rock.” Colonel Haugen continued to emphasize physical fitness and basic soldiering skills as, according to Captain Lyman Faulkner, “Haugen wasn’t interested in experimental parachuting … he saw the parachute as a vehicle to get to the fight.”

2nd Lieutenant Cavanaugh added that while General Swing had his ideas, Colonel Haugen “wasn’t afraid to follow his own instincts” in training his men. However, his methods were frequently criticized by the division’s other regimental commanders who felt that the 511th PIR was too cohesive and independent. And while Swing most assuredly respected Orin's capabilities, he declared that Hard Rock's 511th was full of “The greatest men in the world to go to war with and the last people in the world I’d take home to date my baby sister!” 

“Our regiment was not beloved by Division Staff…” 2nd Lieutenant Stephen Cavanaugh noted. “We were felt to be mavericks and troublemakers and prone to feel superior to the rest of the Division. Which of course, we were.”

On May 1st those same "mavericks" were honored to take part in Camp Mackall’s dedication at the Mackall Airport. While Orin's paratroopers were relegated to crowd control, during the ceremony bugler Pvt. Billy J. Horn of HQ1-511 blasted a call. The entire 11th Airborne then passed in review for General Swing, Post Commander Col. Vernon G. Olsmith, Major-General Gerry Chapman of Airborne Command, and Ada May Toland Newton, mother of Pvt. John T. “Tommy” Mackall for whom the camp was being named.

The 11th Airborne took twenty minutes to pass and when the 511th approached the stage, every one of Orin's men solemnly saluted Mrs. Mackall.

Life at Mackall was not all work, however. Full of former athletes, the 11th Airborne organized leagues and unit competitions for swimming, boxing, touch-football, and basketball, all of which led Hard Rock's 511th to quickly gain a reputation as brash competitors, a trait that Orin, the former cross-country runner and polo player, nurtured. Boxing matches were especially well-attended and one afternoon D-511’s Pfc. William L. Dubes, a Golden Gloves boxer from North Dakota, was in the ring with a fighter from another unit. Dubes was winning hands down when Colonel Haugen happened by and cracked a rare smile after Bill told his opponent, “I’m tired—you beat on me for a while.”

Another fight soon broke out, this one involving Orin's entire regiment facing off against the rest of the division. After 86% of the 11th Airborne earned the blue Expert Infantryman’s badge, some high-ranking officer in the division headquarters issued orders that the 511th's precious jump boots were to be worn on parachute drops only. Scuttlebutt said this new mandate was initiated by glider officers and although Orin's reaction to it is lost to history, the order went over with his men as well as can be expected. The paratroopers responded by obediently wearing GI service shoes but cut five inches off their M38 knee-high leggings. Calling their new attire “Glider Boots”, the cocky paratroopers bloused their trousers over the tops.

The same officers who issued the original orders were furious and rumor has it that Gen. Swing was irked as well. The displeasure flowed downstream, but Orin's men held firm in their rebellion, although they were careful how much they flaunted it. Thankfully, Hard Rock's boys won the day and the ridiculous jump boot restriction was soon lifted.

Fire in the Sky

In an effort to continue preparing the men for combat, Camp Mackall became a blur of long marches, field exercises, classes and lectures, training jumps, inspections, drills, etc. One event that stood out in everyone's mind occurred during a night jump on October 29, when a C-47 carrying Headquarters Battery of the 457th PFAB developed engine problems as it flew right over D Company’s area. The transport clipped the tops of the area’s pine trees and cartwheeled to the ground. My grandfather, 1st Lieutenant Andrew Carrico, III, and D Company rushed to the crash site, but Cpl. Murray Hale noted, “They kept us away while they removed the (ten) bodies. It seemed the pilot was trying to make it to the nearby airstrip, and he banked with the near engine down and when he was making his turn, he went in.”

D Company looked over and were surprised to see Colonel Haugen himself surveying the rescue efforts, alongside his wife Marion and their young son William. While as a career soldier Orin was intimately familiar with the dangers of his chosen profession, the crash and deaths of ten men of the 457th PFAB and the aircrew reminded D Company, and all of the 511th PIR, that Hard Rock was pushing them to prepare for the realities of war. 

To help distract his men from the crash, Orin told them that they could take as many Recreational Jumps as they wanted to on Sundays and the boys of the 511th soon flooded the Rigger Sheds to pick up parachutes which led the regiment to be full of some of the most jump-experienced paratroopers in the Army before they even sailed for the front. 

And even Hard Rock cracked the hint of a smile as his men watched the division’s first attempt to attach identifiable multi-colored lights to dropped loads during another night jump made by the 457th PFAB. When the cargo was pushed out of 52 jump craft, many of the lights ripped free and dropped to the ground like twinkling Christmas lights.

Saving the Airborne

The laughter stopped when the 11th Airborne's Gen. Swing returned from his advisory role in Africa with sobering news. Given the mixed results of Operation Husky’s airborne operations, America’s leadership questioned the necessity of airborne divisions. After the War Department studied the British and American actions in North Africa and Italy, the belief began to circulate that given the success of the small groups of paratroopers, parachute battalions and regiments were deemed more practical than entire divisions

I have yet to find a shred of evidence indicating whether or not Hard Rock agreed with the assessment. On the one hand, Orin had full faith in his regiment's abilities to act as a devastating force against the enemy whether it was part of a division or not. On the other hand, Hard Rock also valued the supportive power that a division brought to the table with its mutually enforcing structure, resupply capabilities, area-trained units, and so on. 

But his men were concerned: would they remain part of the 11th Airborne Division, or would the 511th PIR be broken off piecemeal and sent to other units? To lift their spirits, a special Thanksgiving service led by Cpt. Lee E. “Chappie” Walker of Ohio, one of the Division’s “Flying Parsons”, was organized and after addresses by Chaplain Walker and Col. Haugen, the men sang hymns. A few days later on Thanksgiving itself the officers’ wives and girlfriends joined them for a smile-filled dinner complete with all the trimmings followed by dancing until late. Although many in the division later suffered from the “GIs”, the festivities helped the Angels ignore the fact that the fate of theirs and America’s four other airborne divisions would soon be decided.

To that effect, when Chief of Staff George Marshall selected Gen. Joseph M. Swing to study what had gone wrong in Africa and Italy, and to recommend solutions to the problems, Swing organized what became known as The Swing Board. a panel of dedicated airborne officers who reviewed both Allied and Axis operations in an effort to prove that airborne divisions were sound tactical units. 

While despite years of effort I have yet to find a complete list of those who participated on The Swing Board, I have no doubt that as one of America's most experienced airborne officers Colonel Haugen would have played an integral part during the panel's two weeks of efforts. His advice would have helped shape the Swing Board's circular, “Employment of Airborne and Troop Carrier Forces” which was submitted to  LTG Lesley McNair and George C. Marshall for review. 

It was decided that Orin's men as part of a reinforced 11th Airborne Division would put the new operational doctrine's to the test in early December 1943 in what became known as The Knollwood Maneuvers. On a chilly evening, Hard Rock's men (who dropped on the Pinehurst and Southern Pines golf courses) quickly achieved their objective of seizing the Knollwood Army Auxiliary Airfield from the 17th Airborne defenders. With the area secured, the rest of the 11th AB landed on the airfield at dawn and immediately set out to “attack” a nearby reinforced infantry regiment along with performing assorted resupply drops and casualty evacuations.

Throughout it all Hard Rock's men remembered being “surrounded by Brass” with Army observers and referees everywhere. These included LTG Lesley McNair, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Under Secretary of War Robert Patterson, and multiple teams from the Army and Army Air Corps (including Troop Carrier Command), all of whom were suitably impressed by Orin's, and Gen. Swing’s, men.

And given the 11th Airborne’s accomplishments, not to mention the superb flying of Troop Command, America’s leaders deemed the Knollwood Maneuvers a success and after studying the 503rd PIR’s September jump on Nadzab, New Guinea, the Brass changed its tune.

A proud Gen. Swing grinned when Gen. McNair sent a message stating that the 11th Airborne had corrected the leaderships’ negative assessments of large-scale airborne operations, saying “The successful performance of your division has convinced me that we were wrong, and I shall now recommend that we continue our present schedule of activating, training, and committing airborne divisions.”

It was official: Hard Rock's boys had helped save the airborne and given the effectiveness of the 11th Airborne's coordinated “attacks” and tactics, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was so impressed that much of the division's Knollwood strategy formed the template for the D-Day airborne operations the following June. 

It was a legacy that Hard Rock was understandably proud of.

Camp Polk

Following a Christmas season full of celebrations, when Orin's men heard they were preparing for a move, they were sure that the 511th was finally heading overseas to fight. Only they weren't. While some wagered that they were heading to Europe to fight Hitler, other declared that China was their goal. In the end, Hard Rock and his men boarded twenty-two troop trains for the 960-mile trip to Camp Polk, Louisiana. 

The 511th quickly decided that Camp Polk was a major upgrade. For one, Polk provided two-story heated barracks with connecting latrines and the excited paratroopers discovered that each company had their own mess hall and kitchen.

But even with the improved facilities, it did not take long for Col. Haugen’s boys to begin raising hell. One day a group started a “snowball” fight at one of Polk’s large PXs using crushed ice from the soft drink cooler. The “battle” escalated to include bottles and as demolitions man Pfc. Frank J. Lewis of HQ3 said, “it ended with the PX being surrounded by the Provost Marshall and troops, plus MPs with a tank destroyer.”

The tank destroyer came courtesy of Camp Polk’s resident tankers, but the undeterred paratroopers commandeered the PX and defiantly stacked food crates and large sacks of sugar against the door in anticipation of a siege. Col. Haugen himself soon arrived and dismissed the Provost Marshall and his troops before firmly ordering his men to open the door. As the tank destroyer rumbled away, the paratroopers sheepishly “opened the gate” and after surveying the minimal damage Hard Rock reminded them that as members of his regiment, he expected better. 

Perhaps Orin was remembering his own days as a young soldier, full of spirit and vigor, and decided to go easy on his boys. Their punishment? The normal ten-mile night run around the post perimeter.

But the battles with Camp Polk's tanker units did not end there. Polk was home to the 8th and 9th Armored Divisions whom the Angels’ Maj. Edward Flanagan called the “most arrogant branch of the Army”, an ironic classification as the tankers felt the same about the paratroopers. 

The Angels, however, were greatly offended by the “Gasoline Cowboys’” facsimile jump boots. Boisterous tankers were frequently “relieved” of their boots and forced to walk or ride home from Lake Charles or Shreveport only to find their liberated boots sitting in the orderly room and it did not help that the paratroopers grinned as they watched shoeless tankers hobble back to their barracks.

To make matters worse, Col. Haugen’s Angels had been issued M2 switchblade knives to carry in a pocket near the collar to cut risers in case their lines got caught on a plane’s tail or they landed in a tree. The 511th paratroopers used theirs for more…creative means and while forbidden, the knives were frequently carried off post to “tailor” non-airborne units’ jump boots down to “proper size”.

“Angels we were not,” 2LT Stephen Cavanaugh declared. The 11th ABD, largely due to the antics of the 511th PIR, gained a reputation as “Gen. Swing’s Hell’s Angels” and officers on both sides maintained a constant vigilance to avoid bloodshed.

“511th troopers were really not the rowdies,” G Company’s Cpt. James Lorio insisted. “Except when their combat training-induced Airborne fighting spirit spilled over, usually when provoked. Most leaders could reconcile with this psychological phenomenon.”

Lorio then added, “Amongst the tankers it was said, ‘If you get into a fight with a paratrooper, you had better bring your lunch. Those guys never quit.’”

To help avoid conflict as much as possible, Hard Rock kept his men busy in the freezing Louisiana rains with field problems provided by Third Army. General Swing also set up a jump school at DeRidder Army Air Field (now Beauregard Regional Airport) as the Old Man wanted his entire division jump-qualified, even the glidermen. But when Swing asked Col. Haugen, one of his most experienced jumpers, to oversee the school, Hard Rock declined, saying that the ad-hoc school did not meet established criteria. Ever one for excellence and the highest of standards, Orin would not attach his name to something that cut corners. 

Heading West

And then, the day the Angels had long awaited arrived: after three months of seemingly endless training, maneuvers, examinations, inspections, fistfights and continuous griping, on March 15, 1944, Gen. Swing was told that his division was officially heading for the Pacific (he did not release that information yet). 

His men complained loudly when they were told to remove all unit patches and to pack their jump boots, but on April 20, 1944 when Hard Rock's 511th PIR boarded a train that soon made "a big turn to the left", Orin's paratroopers knew that they were heading to the Pacific Theater. 

After a 2,000 mile trip, the 511th arrived at Camp Stoneman near Pittsburgh, California. Camp Stoneman was America’s main replacement depot (“Repple Depple”) and staging/embarkation base on the West Coast. Located near today’s Los Medanos College, everyone quickly agreed that Stoneman possessed superior facilities than any of the Angels’ former posts with its nine PXs, three movie theaters, fourteen recreational halls, a bowling alley, sport fields and large service club for USO shows full of Hollywood stars.

Not one to waste time, Col. Haugen continued the regiment’s training during their sixteen days at Stoneman. The troopers practiced climbing down rope nets like those found on naval vessels before Hard Rock heard that a Marine Corps unit had set the camp’s twelve-mile march record at just under four hours. Knowing his paratroopers could do better, on a clear morning Haugen ordered the men to assemble with full combat loads, saying, “We will set a record that will knock their eyes out!”

Just as they were about to set out, a unit of African American soldiers arrived, also hoping to beat the Marines’ record. The Angels watched the unit smartly march to “Sound Off”, a cadence they had never heard before and the cross-country competitor in Haugen practically salivated. He led the 511th one way while their new “opponents” went the other.

Reaching the halfway point, G Company’s Cpt. James Lorio realized they were far ahead of schedule and asked Col. Haugen for permission to run ahead and alert the regimental band who played as they returned from long marches. Like Pheidippides’ run from Athens to Marathon, Lorio rushed back to Stoneman, notified band commander WO Robert M. Bergland, then ran back to report to Haugen.

When the 511th’s column reached Stoneman, Bergland’s band played “The Washington Post”, Hard Rock’s favorite. As 3rd Battalion cadence-stepped through the gates, the band switched to Sousa’s “The Thunderer”, a favorite of Maj. Ed Lahti who would become Grandpa’s good friend.

Looking at his watch, Colonel Haugen was pleased. His regiment completed the twelve-mile march in two hours and forty-eight minutes, crushing the camp’s former record set by the Marines by a full forty-five minutes. It was a standard no other unit would beat during the war.

Unfortunately, Haugen’s paratroopers were frustratingly reminded that they could not announce which outfit had set the new record; they were still just Unit 1855. Antsy to "get over there!", Orin's boys took out their frustrations on an engineering unit (most likely the 4th Engineer Special Brigade) which paraded around Stoneman in, of all things, dirty and oily jump boots when the 511th's paratroopers were ordered not to wear their own for secrecy.

“Even without the security, those fellows were not supposed to be wearing jump boots,” Grandpa / 1LT Andrew Carrico pointed out. “When the two groups met, all hell broke loose.” 

Officers on both sides realized that things were escalating, yet thankfully the 11th Airborne Division was nearing its day for departure. When asked about the penalties to those who caused trouble, Cpl. William Walter replied, “Hell, we were young, brave and thought we could do no wrong. Besides, we knew we were going overseas soon and the Brass was not so likely to set down hard on us.”

Col. Haugen himself wound up in a tight spot after he and battalion commanders traveled to San Francisco to pick up the 511th’s sailing instructions. Stopping at a Chinese restaurant for dinner, the officers became enthralled by a table of attractive women and the hours wore on until the Angels realized they were going to miss the last bus to Stoneman. Bidding the ladies adieu, Haugen led a several-block sprint in their Pink and Greens that reminded him of his cross-country days at West Point. Making the bus just in time, even “The Great Stone Face” shared in the grins. 

Then, on May 2, Orin and his regiment sailed for four hours aboard the million-dollar ferry Yerba Buena. Heading down to Suisun Bay via the Carquinex Straight, the Angels traveled through San Pablo and San Francisco bays towards the Oakland Mole and their new home, the SS Sea Pike. Built by San Pedro’s Western Pipe and Steel Corp in February of 1943 using a C3 hull, the 492-foot Sea Pike had a maximum speed of seventeen knots.

Wearing helmets marked with company letters in chalk, Hard Rock led his paratroopers’ column which snaked down the docks under a sign which read “Through these portals pass the best damn soldiers in the world”. Everyone in the 511th PIR, Orin included, agreed. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series that will cover Orin's experiences on New Guinea before the 511th first faced the enemy on Leyte during their bloodiest campaign of the war. Part 4 will discuss the regiment's Luzon campaign as well as Orin's mortal wounding on February 11, 1945 during the Battle for Manila.

To learn more about Colonel Orin D. Haugen and his historic regiment and the intrepid men who fought in it, you can order Jeremy C. Holm's new book, WHEN ANGELS FALL: From Toccoa to Tokyo, The 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II by visiting our online store or purchasing a copy wherever books are sold.