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551st Parachute Infantry Association

551st Parachute Infantry Association

The 551st Parachute Infantry Association, originally activated back in 1984, is now re-activated. To become a member email us at info@551pib.us. GOYA!

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Photos from U.S. Army Center of Military History's post ... See More from 551See Less from 551

Last Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the Consulate General of France, Raphael Trapp, visited the last surviving member of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, Ernest Scango, B Company, at the Sunflower Springs senior living facility in Homosassa, FL to present him with the French Legion of Honor. The entire staff at Sunflower Springs went above and beyond hosting the event. All the residents of the facility were invited, it was a full house. Many attendees carried in unit pictures with them from their days in the service, then, when it came time to begin the ceremony the National Anthem was played and everyone not only stood, but also sang the anthem…very moving. The day prior to the ceremony we had the honor of interviewing Mr. Scango. We weren’t sure, with Mr. Scango being 101, how long the interview would last, or how much of a recollection he might have regarding a time that was 80 years in the past, a time he had often tried to forget. Well, he seemed to remember everything…

He remembered Capt Evans releasing him soon after joining the 551st so that he and his future wife, Mary, could be married while at Camp Mackall…he recalled the fateful night jump at Lake Kinney Cameron and their trip to Newport News to board an overcrowded cargo ship to Europe in April of ’44 to Oran, Africa. He also had many recollections of Sicily, Rome, eating grapes at Valbourges following their jump, Draguignan, Cannes, Nice, the Alps, Paris (one of the few who actually made it to Paris) and, of course, the Bulge. He also enjoyed the steak they got on their return trip to the United States. Mr. Scango left the service on November 25, 1945.

The interview went on for an hour and a half. I also asked him if he recalled what he was doing on VE Day when he first heard the news of Germany’s surrender. It was no surprise to learn that this 551st/504th paratrooper was cleaning his weapon when he heard the news. Getting back to the ceremony, several local and state political officials had sent representatives and one representative that spoke was a retired USMC General, Gen. James Hartsell, Deputy Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. After speaking he approached Mr. Scango to present him with a token, the General also let him know that he was going to do something that just about any enlisted Army Soldier would like to see a United States Marine Corp General do, as he kneeled before Mr. Scango for the presentation. After the French Consul General of France made his remarks he then pinned the Legion of Honor on Ernest Scango, 101 year old Ernest Scango then stood and remarked to the Consulate General, “Merci beaucoup”. To Earnest Scango…SALUTE!!

"The Legion of Honor is France's highest distinction...created to reward eminent military and civil merits in the service of France, the "Legion d'Honneur" (Legion of Honor) is the highest distinction that can me conferred in France on a French citizen as well as on a foreigner. It is attributed by decree of the President of the French Republic. The Legion of Honor was founded in 1802 by Napolean Bonaparte, as the First Consul."

Four other members of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion have also received the French Legion of Honor...Joseph Cicchinelli, Douglas Dillard, Richard Field, and John Bellefontaine. Other American personalities that have received the Legion of Honor are Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, General Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Colin Powell, Barbara Streisand, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg.

Link to Citrus County Chronicle article regarding the ceremony... www.chronicleonline.com/news/local/merci-beaucoup-ernest-scango-world-war-ii-veteran-army-paratro...
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GOYA!🌴

Excellent!

I would have been there, just didn’t know. I live about 45 minutes from Homosassa. My grandfather served in Able Company. Could someone contact me to let me know if it would be possible to schedule some time to meet Mr. Scanto?

What an honor to have witnessed this. It was such a lovely ceremony.

It was an epic event that my dad and our family will never forget 💖

🌴🇺🇸GOYA🇫🇷🌴

Congratulations

I am so very proud of my Uncle Ernie. He is such a wonderful man!

This is great to see.

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It's almost time for the 80th Anniversary of the Invasion of Southern France, and our third Association Invasion. The first was for the 40th Anniversary, organized and attended by many GOYAs themselves. All of these photos were taken by our Association Secretary, Eric Buchanan, during the 75th Anniversary, a trip of a lifetime. Add to that walking in the footsteps of our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, great grandfathers and so on, and it just doesn't get much better. The rooms filled up rather quickly this year; however, a few have fallen through due to some unforeseen circumstances resulting in some additional availabilities. If you would like to join us for the 80th a few rooms have opened up, along with packaged air travel. Just send us an email at info@551pib.us for additional details if interested, we would love to see you there. GOYA! ... See More from 551See Less from 551

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🌴🇺🇸GOYA🇫🇷🌴

GOYA!🌴

"The ties that grow between men who live savagely together, relentlessly communing with Death, are ties of great strength.”
– Ernie Pyle.

For a unit that finished their combat with an 83% casualty rate and was orphaned when their leader was KIA on the morning of their final battle at Rochelinval, there were many ties of great strength in the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion. Soldiers of combat units quickly become like another family...for a few; perhaps, those bonds were even deeper. At least two men of the 551st grew up as orphans, and were recognized by their brothers. One was KIA on November 4, 1944 in the Maritime Alps of France, Joseph Edgerly. The other ended up a POW just prior to Rochelinval, who shared a bunk with Joe Cicchinelli at Stalag IV B in eastern Germany for several months, Larry Poston. With it being World Orphan Week, founded by an organization called SOS Children’s Villages in 2005, we recognize these two heroes, and who better to speak on these heroes’ behalf than their own GOYA brothers-in-arms…SALUTE!!

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Larry Poston – THE STATIC LINE, November, 1982….

"The only GOYA, other than myself, in my town of Nashville is Larry Poston, Co “A”. LARRY and JOE CICCHINELLI were captured together in Belgium in Jan. 1945 and spent 4 months in a P.O.W. camp.
After the war, young LARRY went to college and obtained a degree in pharmacy. He has owned his own drugstore in West Nashville for many years and he’s one of the busiest and most popular men in that part of the city. But he takes time to stay in shape by running, jogging and doing push-ups – on one hand, 40 or more on two, and a cross-town run of 10 or 12 miles? Mighty good for a fellow who’s just a year on the low side of 60.
Something else I’d like you to know about LARRY, which I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me telling, except that he’s a pretty modest fellow: as a child, LARRY spent 10 years in an orphanage in Nashville, from age 3 to 13, and has many good friends and good memories from that experience. For the past several years he has served on the Board of that orphanage, and supports it generously with his time, talents and resources. LARRY has a fine family, and is highly respected by all who know him."

- Tom Waller, A Company,

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Joseph Edgerly - from interviews with Dan Morgan for the 551st’s unit history, The Left Corner Of My Heart.

SGT Emory Albritton, Company B Mortar Squad (story regards Furlough’s pups being thrown overboard on the 551st’s way to Panama. Furlough was the 551st’s mascot, a dachshund):

“Joe Edgerly was broken up over it. He shed some tears, and he wouldn’t believe that our own men had done it. That’s where the rumor started that the Navy had done it. Edgerly came to see me and asked about the pups, and I said that I had heard that Company A men had thrown them over. He said, ‘I can’t believe that anyone in this Battalion could have done that’.”

Later on, many men in the Battalion would have the impression that Joe Edgerly was the one who gave us Furlough, an impression that stemmed from his concern and affection for her. Joe was one of our outstanding athletes – boxer, track, weights, one-arm pushups, whatever. He was also a champion of the underdog, in the most realistic sense. He had a very rough start in life as a homeless youngster living on the streets of Boston, so his interest in underdogs had logical origins. He had taken Furlough under his care since she first came to the Battalion at Camp Patrick Henry, and the depth of his grief at the loss of her pups generated strong sympathy in all of us. A very good thing that whoever it was, the crew of the ship or the men of Company A, did not come face to face with Joseph Edgerly in the commission of their cowardly deed.

SGT Bill Hatcher, Company B communications (interview):

“Joe Edgerly was an unforgettable person. After all, how many of us would go AWOL to the front? Joe was almost a perfect physical specimen: very muscular, adventuresome, carefree and gung-ho. So when he got to Italy Joe went AWOL from the Battalion, I think while we were at Naples, before we went down to Sicily for training.

He was gone a few days, maybe four, and then came back to the Battalion. At this time he was not in Company B so I got to see him less frequently, but the next time I saw him he mentioned that he had done this and I asked him why. He said he just had to find out what combat was like. He had gone up to the 5th Army front. That would have been early June, 1944. To me, that is derring-do of the highest order.”

S/SGT Leo Urban, Hq Company Mortar Platoon (interview):

"We were up on the side of a mountain some miles from the town when I heard of Edgerly’s death. He was in Company C then…He was one of those adventuresome sorts that came along once in a great while. He would have been outstanding in the movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ “

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Photo of Edgerly was shared from The Left Corner of My Heart, his graveside photo was taken by Eric Buchanan during the 75th Anniversary of Operation Dragoon at the Rhone American Cemetery.

Photos of Larry Poston were shared from the Friends of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion Facebook page posted by Larry’s son, Andrew.

- eb
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With great sadness I share the loss of Ric Morgan who was the son of Dan Morgan. Ric played a significant role in helping his father publish his book Left Corner of My Heart. Ric also was instrumental in helping me navigate the re-publishing of the book which was close to impossible but we did it!

Much gratitude to the Morgan family for their immeasurable contributions to the legacies of the paratroopers of the 551st PIB. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Morgan family.

Obituary: Frederick N. “Ric” Morgan (1953-2024)
Ric Morgan passed away unexpectedly on Saturday February 17th 2024 while working in his law office at his rural Elbert County ranch. Ric was born on July 30, 1953 in Arlington, VA, to LaHonda Jo (Walton) and John Daniel Morgan. After attending Langley High School in Langley, WA, Ric spent several years at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs before finishing up his undergraduate studies at Colorado State University in 1978 with a degree in physics/geology.

Ric began his distinguished military career in 1979 when he was commissioned into the US Navy. His Navy assignments took him all over the world and to the Pentagon as he was tasked with increasing responsibilities in Naval Intelligence. In 1985 Ric reported to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, receiving a MS degree in Space Systems Operations and the designation of Navy Space Specialist. For the next several years Ric was involved in high profile naval missions in the Middle East and former USSR.

In 1989 Ric reported to Headquarters, US Space Command for duties in the intelligence directorate, and later deployed for Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm where he performed military intelligence functions aboard the USS Kennedy and USS Saratoga. While garrisoned in Turkey he led efforts to establish bases for US and allied combat operations within Turkey during the Gulf War. During active hostilities Ric deployed with forward units conducting search and rescue missions along the northern Iraqi frontier.

In 1993 Ric was assigned to a NATO military intelligence task force headquartered in England and spent the next several years supporting crisis operations throughout Europe and northern Africa. During conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia, Ric supported US and NATO combat operations from various in-country locations. Ric eventually returned stateside and was assigned to US Space Command where he served as Chief of the Intelligence Watch inside of Cheyenne Mountain at NORAD.

Ric met his future wife Claudia (Bernet) of Basel, Switzerland while on assignment in Italy aboard the USS Belknap in 1988. After a long military career Ric and Claudia purchased 80 acres in rural Elbert County in which to retire on. They set up a saw mill and built a beautiful timber post and beam home from Ponderosa Pines felled from their land. Not long after his Naval retirement a local church elder approached Ric and expressed that the local community needed a good lawyer and recruited Ric to attend law school. Three years later and at the age of 50 Ric graduated from the University of Denver Law School and passed the bar exam in 2003.

Over the past two decades Ric has been a passionate advocate for justice and a legal system that is accessible to all citizens. One of the ways Ric combated “legal deserts” in rural Colorado was to establish the Lawyers at the Library program, an offshoot of the Access to Justice Virtual Pro Se Clinics which Ric helped grow and nurture throughout most of rural Colorado’s judicial districts. Ric also set up the online Colorado Legal Checkerboard giving users free and valuable legal advice and forms.

It is likely that Ric will be best known for his staunch and unwavering support and legal advocacy of military veterans. Ric was the Elbert County Veteran Service Officer for years and has helped countless veterans get the assistance and benefits they deserved. He has held leadership and command positions in the VFW and American Legion for decades.

Ric’s personal interests were many, and included genealogy, geology, history and ranching. Ric and Claudia established the only breeding herd of Swiss Valais Blackneck Goats in North America and were great advocates of sustainable ranching, farming, conservation, and forestry management. Ric’s knowledge of Elbert County history, from settlement times to today’s legacy ranches, was incredibly extensive. His historical knowledge of, and contributions to, the veterans interred in the Elbert Cemetery was legendary.

Ric is survived by his wife of 34 years Claudia; as well as his two sons Eric (and his wife Jennifer) of Dover, DE, and Ryan of Fort Collins, CO. His extended family includes 3 granddaughters, 7 brothers and sisters and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Ric’s memorial service will be held at 10am Saturday, March 9 at the Gates Mercantile Building in Elbert. Interment will follow immediately at 11am at the Elbert Cemetery where carpooling is highly encouraged. A pot luck luncheon in honor of Ric will commence at 12 noon at the Gates Mercantile Building. In lieu of flowers the family would ask that donations be made to the American Legion, VFW or charity of your choice.

Military Honors and Decorations:

Distinguished Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
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I will attend the service and represent the 551 association

Sincere condolences to the family and loved ones

This is just so sad. I met Dan at the 2001 reunion, such a great man and eternally grateful for his book honoring our Goyas. My sincere condolences to his family.

🙏🏻

My sincere condolences to the family 🙏🙏

I’m so very sorry. My condolences to his family and all who loved him. RIP.

What a loss.

My deepest sympathies to the family.

I saw you were on your way 👍glad you could attend

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