Paul C. Rogers

Easy Company Medic Eugene Roe: Easy Company: Paul C. Rogers







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Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Chris Langlois (Chrisdfw) (12.239.86.117) on Wednesday, May 08, 2002 - 12:36 am:

HBO miniseries premiere spurs D-Day memories

By CAIT PURINTON - The Kansas City Star
Date: 07/10/01

Paul Rogers still has a piece of his parachute from D-Day, when he landed eight miles from his drop zone in Normandy.

Well, he didn't really "land."

Tree limbs snagged his parachute. He cut himself free and climbed to the ground. In the jump, he lost half his equipment, including his rifle.

Rogers, of Overland Park, was a member of E Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, formed 59 years ago this August in Toccoa, Ga.

The company's members trained together and stayed together until they came home from the European front. Rogers and his newfound family formed friendships so strong they knew each other better than their real brothers at home.

Their annual reunions inspired author Stephen E. Ambrose to write Band of Brothers, now a 10-part miniseries produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for HBO. Rogers was one of the technical advisers.

On June 6, the 57th anniversary of the invasion at Normandy, paratroopers and their families were treated to a guest premiere and tours in France. Some visited areas where their battles were fought.

"A bunch of us went, and it was fantastic," said Rogers, 82.

The show will have another guest premiere tonight in St. Louis before its HBO debut on Sept. 9.

Rogers, who grew up in Adrian, Mo., was 24 years old in 1942 when he volunteered to be a paratrooper. He and about 140 other volunteers trained in Toccoa under Col. Robert Sink.

"He wanted to weed out the weak ones," Rogers said. "The big thing he wanted was for us to be in tip-top shape -- rough, tough."

He remembers they ran three miles up a nearby mountain and back down every day as part of their training. Sink made them march 119 miles in three days with all of their equipment.

"If it sounds like a lot of miles, it was," Rogers said.

After basic training they were sent to England, and a few minutes after 1 a.m., June 6, 1944, more than 10,000 paratroopers were dropped in Normandy.

During eight of the days Rogers fought in Normandy, he became close friends with Jim Alley of Seattle and Earl McClung of Pueblo, Colo.

"We're pretty close. I think we're all responsible for each other being alive. It was a pretty intense eight days," Rogers said.

He was hit by shrapnel during a jump on Sept. 17, 1944, in Holland. He spent four weeks in an English hospital and was returned to his original platoon.

His European tour ended shortly after the Americans raided Berchtesgaden, Germany, where Hitler's Eagle's Nest was located.

By that time, Rogers said, there weren't many of the original "Toccoa boys" left. He said about 70 of them made it home alive.

"Everyone had a Purple Heart. Some had two," Rogers said.

Alley and McClung came home about the same time as Rogers, and they still get together at least once a year, in addition to the 101st Airborne reunions and the separate reunions for E Company.

"In the last 25 to 30 years, I don't think I've missed but one reunion," Rogers said.

Seventeen of the "Toccoa boys" are having a reunion -- including a visit to the infamous mountain -- for another guest premiere showing July 26 at their basic training camp.

"Without us, there wouldn't have been a book," Rogers said.

To reach reporter Cait Purinton, call (816) 234-7722 or send e-mail to cpurinton@kcstar.com.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By Admin (Admin) (12.241.64.130) on Monday, August 19, 2002 - 01:07 pm:

Paul Rogers & wife


Paul Rogers and his wife.


Courtesy of Tracy

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