Henry C. Langevin enlisted into the Army's National Guard on January 6, 1941 from Saint Paul, Minnesota. "Hank" as he was known to family and friends, initially served with the United States Army's Coast Artillery Corps, (CAC) in California. He operated a radar system that was designed to detect approaching enemy fighters. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941, he was assigned to coastal duty in the San Francisco area, protecting the west coast from an attack by the Japanese. Sometime in 1942 Hank saw a posting for paratrooper volunteers and answered the call. His application was accepted and he traveled alone across country by train heading for Fort Bragg, North Carolina to earn his wings. After jump school, Hank was assigned to the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, B Battery.
On April 29, 1943 he sailed with the 82nd Airborne Division for Casablanca, North Africa. Here the Division trained for several more months getting ready for their first combat mission. On the night of July 9/10 1943 Corporal Langevin made a combat jump into Sicily. His second campaign the Italian mainland, on September 15,1943 the 456th was scheduled to enter the fray by glider. Reconnaissance photos of their landing zones in the Sele River area were deemed unsuitable and on September 16th further glider operations were suspended. entered combat by landing craft in Italy. Hank missed the Normandy invasion due to a bad case of pneumonia. On September 17th 1944 operation Market began with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment making their 4th combat jump into Holland. The 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion asked for glider volunteers for the Holland campaign, and on D + 1, September 18th, Hank landed in his designated landing zone. As the paratroopers in his glider began to make their way to the assembly point, a German 88 shell landed close by, fortunately, it was a dud. Hanks good friend, Tech/5 Joe Paradise, the Battalion's mail clerk, was killed in action the same day when his glider was shot down approaching the landing zone.
Sergeant Langevin recalled the cold weather and snow of the Bulge and how the men tried in vain to keep each other warm by rubbing feet and huddling together. He recalled crossing the Rhine into Germany and the combat team's last crossing over Elbe river in April 1945. Some of his most vivid memories were of the mal nourished prisoners in the concentration camps of Germany.
When Sergeant Langevin was discharged in 1945, he was traveling alone. He left Europe flying home in a B-17 bomber, first to North Africa on to South America than to the United States.
Transcription not complete. Web page still under construction - April 25,2017.
Interview April 19, 2017
Private Hank Langevin in 1942 with the 4th Army (4 leaf clover patch below)
after he finished his basic training. The U.S. 4th Army served in the
Continental United States during World War II, responsible for the
defense of the West Coast . Hank served on the west coast until he
volunteered for the paratroops.
Corporal Hank Langevin during the Sicily campaign in 1943 .
World War II veteran Henry Langevin salutes after raising the flag before the Minnesota Twins’ home opener at Target Field in Minneapolis on Monday, April 3, 2017. Langevin, 94, was born in St. Paul in 1922 and enlisted in the Army in 1941. He fought in the Battle of Sicily and the Battle of the Bulge. He was later sent to Germany and freed Jewish prisoners from concentration camps. (Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press) .
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