Command of elite World War II paratroopers

Mark J. Alexander is the jump commander. He signed up as a private in the national guard in the fall of 1940 and went to drill once a week. A little more than two and a half years later, Major Alexander led 525 men in the first wave against Hitler's fortress Europe.

Descending from the sky, they landed 25 miles off target on and among a network of fiercely defended Italian pillboxes. The fight was on.

In unknown land, surrounded by the enemy, his battalion would have to fight it's way to the invasion beaches to join up with the rest of the 82nd Airborne Division. Along the way he and his men confronted entrenched enemy positions, a key staff member melts down in the heat of battle, and they would witness possibly the worst friendly fire incident of the entire war. That was all within the first two days.

More fighting in Sicily was followed by an invasion of the Italian mainland. With long bloody attacks by now Lt. Col. Alexander's 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment against dug in, combat experienced German troops, their mighty 88 mm cannons and a landscape full of tripwires, the paratroopers captured five bridges and a key town on the Volturno River.

This campaign was followed by the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. Alexander arrived as second in command of the 505 and was used to plug holes and lead battalions in both the 505 and 508 Parachute Infantry Regiments. Leading from the front and scouting well beyond front lines almost got him killed on more than one occasion.

Thieves, mules, and everything else

In addition to combat, Alexander found himself is strange circumstances: pushing a mule out of a C-47 aircraft at 800 feet, locking Americans in a barbed wire containment, stealing from others while throwing concussion grenades at those trying to steal from him, catching a look inside walls off limits to Westerners, keeping his men who robbed a European bank out of jail, and leading a revolt of hospital patients against the doctor in charge. He had personal dealings with car thieves, rum-runners, two future United States Presidents (not including Ike), mayors, prostitutes (not what you think), and Chinese Generals.

Jump Commander is an in depth story of combat from the front line lowest grade privates up to Major Generals. It covers Mark Alexander's struggle to attack aggressively without being reckless and to look out for his men when it was almost impossible.

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