By: Nicholas Halteman and Jennifer Merriman
101st Airborne: Fred Bahlau
Prior to the day, I had been training for almost two years. We parachuted into France that day, the day Eisenhower had made up his mind. I call that day D-day, which happened to be June 6th, 1944. We had been training in England for quite some time and even did a jumping for Churchill. Anyway, it was nighttime on June 6th, when we had heard the command and we had left the airfield. Around 6,000 of us were going to drop in and about 26 of us were going to be piloting. The new pilots ought to have been scared, for they had never seen battle before. I was the jump-master and I was in charge of six switches that controlled six packages that were to be picked up. They could have held a number of things. Anyway, when I jumped out of the plane I had looked as I saw burning houses and all kinds of fires on the ground. It did not take long to reach the ground, and when I hit the ground I grabbed my Tommy gun. I then took out my knife that was strapped into a pocket on my leg and cut myself free from my parachute and used my Cracker Jack clicker to see if I landed near anyone. Fortunately I had landed near someone and was safe for the time being. Guns were being fired in all directions and everybody was spread about. So, this guy I was next to, we went towards a river and see a lot of men nearby on the other side of this river. I thought they were some of our troops and jumped into the river to check it out and realized they were german troops. We decided not to shoot at them since we had no where to hide and snuck away from these men.Our objective was to rendezvous a little further upstream and meet at a bridge. Me and the men I had picked up along made it to the bridge. I was pretty lucky being able to make it to my target without getting hurt.
Fred Bahlau looking at a picture of himself in WWII.
A picture of younger Bahlau when he was serving
A picture taken of Bahlau during WWII.