D-Day started early for Sgt. Jake McNiece and his fellow paratroopers. Not long after midnight on June 6, 1944, they parachuted behind German lines just ahead of the invasion of Normandy. Their goal was to destroy Nazi supply lines and escape routes. Some called it a suicide mission. The paratroopers called themselves the Filthy 13.
Sergeant McNiece spent more than 30 days behind enemy lines after D-Day.
How terrifying would that have been?
They were a skilled group, trained as the Demolition Section of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. But they were not the most disciplined of soldiers. They disobeyed orders, bathed infrequently and often disappeared from their barracks for long, liquid and sometimes violent weekends. If they received promotions, odds were good they would eventually be demoted again.
“He spent a lot of time in a stockade,” Hugh McNiece said of his father, “and he was O.K. with that.”