18 November, 2017

Brininstool, Don

Service: ArmyUnit: 101st Airborne Division

Written by Larry Martin:
“Don was born in 1921. Don was a personal friend of mine for about two years before he passed away in his sleep in 2008 in Florida. Don was a strapping man in his youth, the Army did not pick little men very often as Paratroopers which is what Don did during the war. He had a friend he was close to since childhood whom I am still acquainted with and this friend tells me Don would protect him from bullies when they were young. ¬†According to him, Don would give them an “attitude adjustment” if they picked on him. Don, his friend, and myself would play golf together.Don had been shot in the foot during Normandy. I asked him once if it still hurt him in 2008 and all he did was laugh and say that it let him know that he had been shot in 1944. He was just a fine man to be around for the two years that I knew him and I counted it an honor to know Don Brinninstool.

Don enlisted in the Army in July of 1942, and went directly into the 101st Airborne. His training was at Tacooa Georgia for jump school to get his jump wings that he was very proud of until his dying day, and with good reason. From there he got transferred to England for more training to jump into battle on D-Day in Normandy. He was in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Co. A. and parachuted into Normandy about 3:00 am on June 6th 1944. Just imagine what it must have looked like jumping into thousands of rounds of artillery as well as small arms fire, he and his fellow Paratroopers of the 101st as well as the 82nd Airborne jumped in among and behind the Germans at night many were dropped in the wrong areas so just getting together with the men that you had trained with was nearly impossible. The Paratroopers were supposed to stay about three days they stayed in Normandy about five weeks. Don was shot several weeks later after nearly continuous fighting. When Don had mended enough to be released from the Hospital, the Army was going to make him an MP, but he told them that the Germans had shot him and he wanted to get back into combat to help get this thing over so they could all go home.

Don made the next jump into Holland on Sept. 17th 1944 in a battle called Market Garden. The fighting was horrible. If you want to see what it was like to be a paratrooper, there is a good book by a man that I have met about a half a dozen times who was in the 101st Airborne. He was Gen. Maxwell Taylor’s radio operator for Normandy and Holland. The man’s name is George Koskimaki and the book is called Hell’s Highway. I have read it twice in the last 10 years and it is very good. If anyone is interested in WW ll books I have probably read hundreds of them in the last 50 yrs. if you want recommendations email me larry@lmww2.com. Many of the interviews that I have are of men that have told me of books that really tell of their stories.

The 101st was then sent into Bastogne, right into the middle of the Battle of the Bulge. They were not supposed to be in the front lines,they had only standard clothing with no really warm weather clothes. Europe was in one of the coldest winters in many years. Don literally froze. One of the members of the 101st that I personally know started receiving 100% disability for the frost bite and troubles he had with his legs since 1944 in 2006. At Bastogne the 101st was completely surrounded by German soldiers. Don joked that you could shoot in all directions and be shooting at the enemy.

Don was a pleasure to be around. He invited me to attend a group of Veterans called the Lunch Bunch. I met about a half a dozen 101st men at the luncheon, I guess that Don was and is still my favorite, maybe it is just that I knew him better but, he was just a helluva man at 87, I can only imagine what he must have been like in 1944. ”


Don’s message to Larry from the back of the photo shown above

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