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THOMAS A SHROUT, JR.

Discharge document for SSgt Thomas A Shrout.

Thomas enlisted at Fort Bliss, El Paso, TX on 29 Oct 1942.

He served with the HQ Company, 2nd Battalion with 1 year, 10 months and 8 days overseas. 

He was discharged on 13 November 1945 at Fort Sam Houston, TX.

(courtesy of an anonymous contributor)

Thomas A. Shrout Jr.
508 PIR 2BN HQ Co.Thomas A. Shrout Jr.
508 PIR 2BN HQ Co.

     My father did not talk about the war very much and I did not develop an interest in World War II until after watching Saving Private Ryan. Unfortunately my father died on February 7, 1983 many years before the movie came out. So, I do not have specific stories to tell regarding Daddy and his war experiences. What information I have comes from his records and piecing that information together with what I have read. The information on the 508 PIR web site was very valuable along with the biographies written by the other “Jumpers”. From reading all the biographies and articles written by the men of the 508th I can tell that each man has so much pride and so much honor in being a part of the greatest fighting team in the history of war fare. Being my father’s son, and having learned about the history of the 508th, I cannot help personally feeling this pride and honor.
     Daddy was 19 years old when he volunteered in October 1942. He specifically requested to be a part of the 82nd Airborne as he thought it was the elite of the American Armed Services. He was immediately was sent to Camp Blanding where about 50% of the candidates processed into Camp Blanding were selected for the 508th and others were cut during the rigorous basic training. Once they went to jump school they were ready, mentally and physically.
     Then came D-Day. As the 2nd BN HQ CO was the first Serial of the 508th to depart and reach drop zone N, I believe my father was not as scattered as many as the others. There were many good jumps and many horrible jumps. Some drowned in the flooded waters, some were dropped too low and sustained broken legs, and some were killed in mid air, or upon landing. I do not know where daddy was dropped or his experiences the first days of the war. I do know that while he was fighting somewhere on June 10, 1944, my brother, Thomas A. Shrout III was born back in El Paso, Texas.
     He continued the fighting until July 4 where he was wounded at approximately 0930. This was during the taking of Hill 95. The battle for Hill 95 was fought with a tired and depleted 508th. They all had fought for 30 consecutive days without rest or replacements. The 508th took the hill as well as Hill 131 previously. On the 19th of July daddy was released from the hospital and he rejoined the regiment at Nottingham England. Of the 2056 men who jumped with the 508th on D-Day only 918 returned to England.
On September 17, 1944 the 508th was back in combat at Nijmegen and Operation Market Garden. Unlike the Normandy jump, this jump was very smooth with most everyone hitting their drop zone. The 508th accomplished all their objectives. However they paid a price. Of the 2000 men who made the jump there were around 700 casualties. Around the middle of November the 508th traveled to Sissone, France to rest and regroup. By this time Daddy was promoted to Staff Sergeant- Section Leader of the Machine Gun Platoon.
     Next came the Battle of the Bulge and the miserable cold, snow, and slosh. The mobilization was so fast that the soldiers did not have time to obtain the proper snow gear. As a result some men died due to the cold. Some soldiers had frostbite. Frozen soldiers were lying in the roadway. In addition, the Germans put up a strong fight.
     After the occupation of Germany, the 508th became Honor Guards for General Dwight D. Eisenenhower at the SHAEF Headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. After that he returned to the United States and was honorably discharged on November 13, 1945 at Ft.Sam Houston Texas
Except when he was wounded on July 4th he fought in all the battles the 508th was involved in during WWII. He received the Combat Infantryman Badge, American Theater Campaign Medal, EAME Campaign Metal with 4 Bronze Stars & 1 bronze Arrowhead, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart, Distinguished Unit Badge, Victory Ribbon, I Service Stripe, 3 Overseas Service Bars, Belgium Fourragere Degree of Knight 4th Class, and Orange Lanyard of Royal Netherlands Army.
     After the war he went to work for the US Army as a Procurement Specialist at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama and lived in Huntsville. He had two additional boys, and one daughter. Fishing, Golf, and Bridge were his hobbies. Daddy was a fighter and a winner. He survived Jump School, D-Day, Market Garden, The Battle of the Bulge, and Germany. His hardest battle was Emphysema. It started attacking him ten years before his death. Slowly but surely it started taking his breath away from him. I was with him in the hospital on his D-Day. I watched the pulse in his neck slowly stop beating. I watched him stop breathing. I said, “Breathe for me Dad.” He took a shallow breath, smiled, and had a peaceful look on his face as he ascended into the sky.

     If anyone with the 508th remembers my father please correspond with me, George Shrout, at rrshrout@comcast.net

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