Army Memorabilia

Tague, Robert A.

Rank: Sergeant
Serial Number: 6987229
Military Branch: Co. H, 504th Parachute Inf. Reg., 82nd Division
Origin: New York
Date of Death: 1944-12-27
Arlington National Cemetary
Featured: No

Robert Tague was born April 13, 1920. The 1930 census shows him in Buffalo, New York with his parents, John and Edith, and older brother John. He enlisted in Buffalo on February 21, 1942. He died December 27, 1944 in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and was buried in the Hanri-Chapelle American Cemetery. He was re-interred at Arlington on November 18, 1947 in Section 12 Site 3202.

Sgt. Tague's group includes his officially engraved posthumous slot brooch Purple Heart, original Purple Heart Citation, and internet research.

Sicily, July 1943

General James M. Gavin led the division during the Operation Husky, and on 9 July 1943, the 504th PIR helped spearhead the invasion of Sicily in the first airborne military offensive of the history of the United States of America. Leaving from North Africa, the 504th paratroopers crossed over the Sicilian coast on schedule. Despite extensive precautions to avoid an incident, near the Sicilian coast a nervous Allied naval vessel suddenly fired upon the formation. Immediately, all other naval vessels and shore troops joined in, downing friendly aircraft and forcing planeloads of paratroopers to exit far from their intended drop zones in one of the greatest tragedies of World War II.

Italy Mainland

In August, back in North Africa, replacements arrived, training resumed, and 3rd Battalion was again detached, this time to Bizerte or special beach assault training with the 325th Glider Infantry and the Rangers. In early September, the 3rd Battalion rejoined the 325th  GIR and the Rangers, boarded landing craft, and set out to sea. The men knew they were going to Italy, but little else. Troopers from H Company (Tague's outfit), with a group of Rangers, made the initial landing on 9 September 1943 on the Italian coast at Maiori. They quickly advanced inland to seize the Chiunzi Pass and a vital railroad tunnel. After a long campaign, they were pulled back to England in April, 1944. It was in Italy that the Germans dubbed the 504th the "Devils in Baggy Pants". The 504th was so beat up, they were held in England and did not engage in D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Market Garden
On 17 September 1944 at 1231 hours, the pathfinders of the 504th landed on the drop zone, followed thirty minutes later by the rest of the regiment and C Company, 307th Engineer Battalion, to become the first Allied troops to land in the Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden—the largest airborne operation in history. By 1800 hours, the 504th had accomplished its assigned mission (although the enemy had managed to destroy one of the bridges). In just four hours, the regiment had jumped, assembled, engaged the enemy, and seized its objectives.

The 3rd Battalion's H and I companies, and some engineers from the 307th Engineer Battalion crossed the thousand foot wide Waal river in the first wave, 15 men to a boat, and they were immediately, on leaving the far shore, the target of German 88mm cannons, 20mm cannons, flak wagons, machine guns and riflemen. Nonetheless, the crossing was launched. With only 2-4 oars in each boat, the remaining men rowed with the rifle butts. 

The Ardennes – Battle of the Bulge
Suddenly, on December 16, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest which caught the Allies completely by surprise. Two days later the 82nd joined the fighting and blunted General Von Runstedt's northern penetration in the American lines.

On the morning of 23 December 1944, elements of the U.S. 3rd Armored Division were retreating from the Germans in the Ardennes Forest near Fraiture, Belgium. A sergeant in a tank destroyer spotted an American digging a foxhole.The GI, a Private First Class of Co. F, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, looked up and asked, "Are you looking for a safe place?

"Yeah," answered the tanker.

"Well buddy," he drawled, "just pull your tank in behind me… I'm the 82nd Airborne and this is as far as the bastards are going!"

Originally, the 82nd Airborne was to defend Bastogne but the 101st Airborne drew that assignment and the 82nd was sent north to Werbomont. It was in this area that Sgt. Tague paid the ultimate price after being through hell up to that point.

The above was gleaned from the Wikpedia account of the 504th. See that site for a very detailed account of this unit.


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