551st PIB – GOYA’s!
Parachute Infantry during WWII is arguably one of the most popular sub sections of the war. From Band of Brothers in 2001, Airborne units have gained exponential fame in recent years. The most popular divisions, the 101st and 82nd usually gain most attention due to their role in the Normandy landings. However, a number of units were raised by the United States that are often overlooked or forgotten. The 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion (PIB) was a unique unit raised in Panama and trained to fight in a tropical climate and ended with it’s tragic destruction in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. In the beginning it somewhat consisted of hellions and misfits. The unit achieved a famous saying from that of its’ Commander. GOYA! or better known as Get Off Your Ass! was the phrased uttered, ushering the men to move out. It’s first action was that of the Southern France- Operation Dragoon combat assault. Mostly overlooked the Operation consisted of units of the First Airborne Task Force (FABTF). For the Operation, a palm tree was painted on the side of the helmets to distinguish them from everyone else. This operation was unique because of the wide spread camouflaged uniforms. The orders came from the FABTF Commander Robert Frederick, formally of the vaunted commando unit First Special Service Force. The campaign became known as the “Champagne Campaign” by the men because of the region and lighter than expected resistance.