U.S. ARMY GLIDER BADGE

Although the Glider badge had been authorized just four days before D-Day, the United States Army had first employed gliders during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. They were also used in significant numbers during the Normandy invasion, as well as in the Operation Market Garden offensive of September, 1944. Though Market Garden was a failure for a variety of reasons, it did prove that gliders could be employed to transport impressive numbers of men and materiel: Over 14,500 troops were transported safely by glider to jump-off points, along with more than 1700 vehicles and 250-plus pieces of artillery.

The Army had trained over 6,000 glider pilots by the time the war drew to a close, but the future of this silent flyer was already looking bleak as attention turned to new technologies such as jet aircraft and guided rockets and missiles. By the early 1950s, glider operations were stricken from the list of U.S. Army’s transport capabilities.

During the period that the badge was issued, candidates must have been assigned or attached to a glider or airborne unit, or to the Airborne Department of the Infantry School. Additionally, they had to complete a prescribed training program in glider operations or have, in what could very well be called a baptism by fire, taken part in at least one combat-glider landing in enemy-held territory as part of an organized force on an assigned tactical mission that earned it credit for an airborne assault.

The last Army glider landing took place near the end of the battle for Luzon, when a half-dozen Waco CG-4A Gliders were used to land jeeps and other supplies in the final days of fighting.
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