1944: Paratrooper Mohawks

Via The Leaf Chronicle

9 Responses

  1. Chuck Clark

    No, these men are not Native Americans, but chose the hair style to demonstrate their commitment to combat and impress their foes with their ferocity. The earliest example of this practice in WWII that I’ve found was during Operation COTTAGE, the invasion of Kiska Island in Alaska’s Aleutian archipelago in August of 1943. Among the assault force were members of the 1st Special Service Force, a “commando” unit composed of soldiers from both the United States and Canada. Some of the men in this unit shaved their heads into a “Mohawk” pattern, and others used a lightning bolt design. Most of the pictures above were taken just prior to the invasion of Normandy–Operation OVERLORD–on June 6th, 1944, and depict members of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

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  2. Michael

    @Cranios I suspect that there were some paratroopers with a native blood line, but most were just anglo-americans who adopted the Mohawk as a way to show there battle-ready, warrior side.

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  3. Doug Santo

    These were Pathfinders of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. They were the first soldiers to be dropped into Normandy on the eve of D-Day. They anticipated about half their number would not survive the first few hours of their mission. They were all volunters. They set up markers for subsequent planes and gliders to direct drops, attacked certain infrastructure targets, and had to hold their positions against any and all enemy forces until the last man or relieved.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA, USA

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  4. Joe

    The ones with the face paint were members of Jake McNiece’s demo squad “The Filthy Thirteen”. They were not Pathfinders at Normandy, they were tasked with blowing a bridge, not guiding troop transports. Jake later became a pathfinder and jumped into Bastogne to guide in supply drops for the 101st who were under siege there. Google “Filthy Thirteen” for all the info.

    The top photo was taken later in the war and I can’t remember what unit it was.

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  5. Joe

    I’m sure the Krauts would have found those mohawk cuts scary indeed, had they not been covered up by their helmets.

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  6. Jamie Mac

    These specific “Mohawk Paratroopers” belonged to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Part of Easy Company of the 506th was known as “The filthy 13″ since they were always dirty and never washed, not even after training. Their Squad Sergeant was part Native american. That’s what started the trend, which after D-Day became a little more popular due to the 506th’s actions on D-Day

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