Mission Canary

Mission Canary is the first combat jump of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion. 736 Goya Bird of Lt. Colonel Wood Joerg and some paratroopers of the 887th Airborne Engineer Aviation Company embark in 41 aircraft of the 437th Troop Carrier Group.

These paratroopers from the Heavy Mortar Platoon shelter from the sun under the wing of a C-47 before being ordered to board because the planes are a real furnace. Identify, left to right: Pvts. Clell W. Whitener, Paul Kristofik, Thomas O. Bonner, Robert C. Brown, Gordon Roberts, and T/5 Gaither Patterson of the A Company.

Take off at 15:15 from Montaldo Airfield, the battalion should be dropped on DZ A, allocated to the 551st, was located about 800 meters south of La Motte in the area of ​​Valbourgès.

Hooked to the Goyas' aircraft, gliders carrying a platoon of the 887th Airborne Engineer Aviation Company, attached to the unit as support and earthmovers. Some of these engineers are part of the parachute operation of the battalion. During the flight there are some accidents and alarms. Halfway through the journey, someone accidentally activates the switch rocker beam control equipment of 6 containers of 2nd Lt. Phil Hand' C-47 and loses half of demolition gear, this ones landed in the water... The 551st PIB' travel into Southern France is filled with silence, except for aircraft engines, the rattle of beads, the mumbled prayers, the beating heart of each man and nausea. In some aircraft, vomit is so thick that the jump becomes slippery.

Parachuting is performed in perfect conditions between 18:04 and 18:10. 17 paratroopers are injured during the jump. François Gilbert landed near the tracks and headed immediately to the castle. 437th TCG' C-47 are returning to their base at 20:18.

During the jump, Lt. Dalton was floating earthward, still about five jundred feet from the ground, when a parachute carrying and equipment collided with him and collapsed his chute. Thiking and actig quickly, Dalton saved his life by grabbing the equipment bundle and riding it to the ground.

Lieutenant-Colonel Wood Joerg, battalion commander, carries with it a Confederate flag, which should serve as a homing signal on the DZ. On the floor, time is precious because it's necessary to recover the containers and prepare defensive positions around the DZ to protect the arrival of gliders scheduled landing at the same place where Five-Fifty-First came from arrived only a few minutes before! 18 glider pilots are killed; they are wrapped in white parachutes and are lined up against the wall of the courtyard. A plaque is affixed to the chapel, offered by 551st PIB veterans to not forgotten... There are also 80 wounded who are inside the gliders. One of them even crashed into a tree with a jeep and two pilots, both unharmed. The scale and a tubular piece of glider are always present in a plane tree of the domain, this one being pushed over.

On D-Day, fighting between a large German garrison to a FFI group, took place in Draguignan. The Germans, who had evacuated the city during parachuting, were returned to occupy the place and drove retaliation against FTP.

After few skirmishes with German elements stationed around the DZ, the Goyas pass from the defensive to the offensive.