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551st PIB Trooper


Tom Kibler
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Tom Kibler

 

 

Here is a photo of Wilbur B*A*N*K*S, A Co. 551st PIB. I do NOT have a date for this photo, BUT... it is studio marked and taken state-side in Harrisburg, PA. I believe he was assigned to the 503rd prior to his reassignment to the 551st. He was in Panama prior to going to England and taking part in Operation Dragoon, August 1944. He was KIA in France, January 1945, while attached to the 82nd.

 

Previously posted here:

 

E696774D-0033-4F81-B909-9AC72BF052EE.jpeg

B3FD6FA9-1B2C-41FE-A0AF-DFAA56E4EA5A.jpeg

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Thanks Tom, great pic! As I said in the other thread, my understanding of his time line would make it impossible for this patch to be British-made. I personally think they were novelty or PX patches made by the same company that did the round parachute/glider infantry and artillery patches. The materials are identical. I’m also not sure they were meant to specifically represent the 503rd. The Disney designed logo was copyrighted. The square patches are similar, but have some distinct differences. In addition to the mystery oval, if you look closely at the tail area of the cat, the square patch appears to be pinned in place with straight pins. 

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Tom Kibler

You are correct. The original photograph in my possession, clearly shows that the patch is pinned on and not sewn. Always appreciate your valuable insight and knowledge. Thanks.

 

Additionally, since this portrait photograph was taken in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, prior to his deployment to England, it is impossible that it was British made.

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Eric Queen

Outstanding, historical images Tom. A pleasure to see. Thanks for sharing them. 

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Persian Gulf Command

Any thoughts about the Oval?  Could it be for the 501st so he joined the 503rd in Panama?  Or, does this indicate that the 503rd did have an Oval designated to their unit?

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Tom Kibler

I do not know.  My knowledge of his movements are limited.  After his initial enlistment and jump training, I believe he returned home before deploying to Panama.  It is during this time that I believe he had this photo taken at S.W. Kuhnert Studios in Harrisburg, PA, wearing the 503rd patch.  He then went to Panama and returned home again, a Sgt.  I believe he had his photo taken again at the same studio before departing to England before jumping in Operation Dragoon.  

 

Others know the movements and reorganization of the units to better than I and can explain the the patch and oval.  One thing is certain, he had the photo taken long before shipping out to England, and I therefore believe Kadet nailed the patches origin as a stateside PX purchase.  Just my opinion though.

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