508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
Plot F, Row 23, Grave 42
Pvt. John A. Daum was the third of four children born to Paul and Frances Daum in Marathon County, Wis. After he graduated from grade school, he worked jobs at a farm and a shoe factory, eventually enlisting in the U.S. Army in April 1943.
Though not physically big, Daum worked his way up to become a trooper of the 508thParachute Infantry Regiment of the famed “All Americans,” the 82ndAirborne Division. Letters to his family indicate how rigorous the training was. He received his jump wings in October 1943 and made his last visit home later that month. At the end of the year, he and the rest of the 508thsailed to Northern Ireland and later moved to Nottingham, England for further training for the invasion.
As quoted in The Americans at D-Dayby John McManus, fellow infantryman Pvt. Ed Boccafogli described Daum as “a statue looking into space” on June 5, 1944, the day before the invasion. When asked what was wrong, Daum replied, in a matter-of-fact tone, “I’m gonna die tomorrow.” Despite protests from his colleagues, Daum insisted on the imminence of his death. The 508thParachute Infantry Regiment was responsible for the southwest portion of the 82ndAirborne Division sector in Normandy. Their primary targets were bridges over the Douve River, located at Brienville and Beuzeville-la-Bastille.
Clouds and heavy anti-aircraft fire caused the formations to break up with many aircraft straying off-course. The confusion was also compounded by enemy presence in the scheduled drop zones. This prevented the pathfinders from marking the drop zones, which then delayed many pilots from flashing the jump lights until they had overshot their drop zones. Consequently, the 508thparatroopers were widely scattered over the Normandy countryside during their jump. Daum was one of the men in Company ‘D’ who was killed during the airborne landings.
Awards: Purple Heart
John A. Daum is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot F, Row 23, Grave 42.