History of the 542nd Parachute Infantry Battalion


By James Godfrey

The 542nd Infantry Regiment was activated at Fort Benning, Georgia on 1 September 1943 with Colonel William T. Ryder Commanding. On March 17, 1944 the Regiment was deactivated. Two battalions of the original 542nd were used to provide replacements for units in the European Theater and the third battalion became the 542nd Parachute Battalion.

The 542nd Parachute Infantry Battalion was formed on March 17, 1944 and remained at Fort Benning until 1 July 1944 when it was relocated to Camp Mackall, North Carolina. The unit was then attached to the Airborne Center Command Headquarters, remaining in this assignment for one year.

On 1 July 1945 the unit was re-designated The Airborne Center Training Detachment, and was reorganized by the removal of two line companies and most of the men were transferred to I Company. G Company & H Companies also underwent reorganization were replaced by a Glider Company and a battery from the 467th Airborne Field Artillery.

During the life span of the 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 542nd Parachute Infantry Battalion and the Airborne Center Training Detachment furnished several thousand badly needed, highly trained paratroopers and glidermen that served in units fighting overseas. The Battalion provided the Airborne Center with airborne equipment testing and development, Airborne Firepower and Operations Demonstration Teams, "War Bond" sales promotion teams and Army Air Corps Troop Carrier Schools.

The Airborne Center (Airborne Command) transferred to Ft. Bragg N.C. along with its support troops during November 1945, and The Airborne Training Detachment at Ft. Bragg N.C. was transferred to Ft Benning, Georgia on January 21, 1946. Most of the personnel were processed for discharge or re-enlistment. The remaining troops were re-assigned into various training units.

The senior commanding officers of the 542nd Parachute Infantry Battalion and the Airborne Center Training Detachment were:

Lt. Col Wood G. Joerge, Battalion Commanding Officer.

Lt. Col. Arthur M. Henderson. Battalion Commanding Officer.

Major Robert F, Thomas, Battalion Executive Officer

Maj. Robert H, Miller, ABCTD Commanding Officer.

Lt. Col Edward I. Sachs. ABCTD Commanding Officer.