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WWII Airborne Reinforced M42 Jump Jacket ID’d To Vet

by Chris Hughes (11/03/07).



I recently acquired my first M42 Reinforced jump jacket. This jacket was even CC-2′d (Chemical impregnation to protect skin from gas), which led me to believe that it was used on the Normandy jump. Based off the canvas used and the rigger sewing construction, I could tell that it was 82nd Airborne.

The jacket was not attributed to a vet when I got it, but there were two matching laundry stamps inside the garment. On enlisted men, the laundry ID is the first letter of the soldier’s last name and the last four digits or his ASN (Army Serial Number). Identifying a vet with a laundry ID number is a like finding a needle in a haystack, but I felt that this jacket merited the research.

I used the power of Wiki and posted my jacket and the laundry ID number on several militaria boards I subscribe to. In little time, I was contacted by an airborne collector who had a database containing the names and ASN’s for 43,000 WWII 82nd Airborne vets. He ran my information and came up with exactly one match. The soldier was T4 Gordon P. Hannan of Regimental HQ&HQ Company, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne.

The 504th PIR fought and made two combat jumps in Italy prior to arriving in England (4-22-1944) with the intent of participating in the Normandy jump. However, their numbers were depleted and they did not have enough men to participate in the jump. Note: A handful of 504th troopers did volunteer as pathfinders and Pathfinder Security Teams (T4 Hannan was not one of them).

The 504th PIR were issued the same reinforced M42 jump suits as all the other regiments that were jumping into Normandy, but since they didn’t jump, they did not have to turn their jump suits in when everyone returned to England. In fact, the 504th were the only regiment to wear reinforced M42s in the Holland jump (Operation Market Garden). So, it is likely that T4 Hannan wore this jacket on the Holland jump.

This is a firsthand example of how the power of the Internet and “collective intelligence” can be a real benefit to collecting and research. I encourage everyone to post and let the world hear your stories and share in your research projects.

Chris Hughes is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in 20th century militaria and the owner of Rally Point Militaria and Vietnam Uniform – Military Collectibles sites.

4 Responses to “WWII Airborne Reinforced M42 Jump Jacket ID’d To Vet”

  1. Yves says:

    Hey Chris,

    first i would say that you have a very nice M42 jacket :-).
    in your text you refer to an airborne collector who had given you info about the owner of the jacket.

    I recently bought an Ike jacket from the 101st airborne and i would also like some info about it.
    His number was H-9148 and he was a corporal.
    He has an orange lanyard ( Market Garden ) and a Green-red lanyard (lib Belgium or france ) on his jacket.

    Could you help me figure it out who this person was ?

    thx in adavance

    Yves

  2. Chris Hughes Chris Hughes says:

    Thanks for the compliment on the jump jacket. The database used to identify my vet was for 82nd Airborne, so it would not help in your search.

    Without a last name it will be very difficult to research your uniform. Is there a para oval that indicates his regiment?

    —Chris

  3. Yves says:

    Hey Chris,

    The only thing i know that his name was Herbie.
    no there isn’t anything that indicates in witch regiment he was.
    He has a purple heart ribbon and a eastern campaign ribbon and that he fought 18 months overseas.
    He wears on his right sleeve the Allied Airborne patch.

    Yves

  4. Mark says:

    Chris

    I have in my possession an M1C paratrooper helmet that is id’d to a William S Morgan ASN42267114. The helmet is a rear seam so it is late war manufacture and his serial number is late war also. The liner has 82nd associated markings and the pot has a faint outline of the AA patch remaining I found this at a Goodwill in portland Maine and cant believe both pieces have stayed together all of these years.

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