Gen. James Gavin
The Commanding Officer of the 82nd Airborne Division that jumped in Normandy on D-Day, 1944, Major General James Gavin was raised in the Dooleyville patch outside Mt. Carmel.
"Born in 1907, James Gavin was the son of an unwed Irish immigrant. He was placed in a New York City orphanage at the age of one or two. He was eventually adopted by Martin and Mary Gavin, a Pennsylvania coal-mining family. His youth taught him the discipline and hard work that would pay dividends throughout his life. He enlisted in the US Army at age 17. Showing promise, he was selected for admittance to West Point."
"Gen. Gavin came to be known as the "jumping general" because he parachuted with combat troops during World War II. ...While a paratrooper, he led assaults on Sicily and on Salerno Bay, Italy, in 1943, reaching the rank of brigadier general, and jumped with the parachute assault section of the division on the first night of the Normandy Invasion (June 5-6, 1944). Elements of Gavin's section took the town of Sainte-Mère-Église and guarded river crossings on the flank of the Utah Beach landing area. Gavin was later made major general at age 37, the youngest major general since Gen. George Armstrong Custer. He commanded the 82nd Airborne during operations in The Netherlands and his division later fought in Germany until the German army surrendered in 1945."
"During the 1950's, Gen. Gavin was head of Army research and development. He became a strong opponent of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's defense policy because of its dependence on nuclear weapons. After his retirement in 1958, he served as ambassador to France (1961-63) and became a prominent critic of the Vietnam War. Gen. Gavin was the author of such books as Airborne Warfare (1947), Crisis Now (1968), and the autobiographical On to Berlin (1978)."
Gen. James Gavin died in 1990. The Coal Region is proud to call him one of our own.
This text excerpted and paraphrased from Brittannica Online - Normandy Page and a review of the book Paratrooper: The Life of Gen. James M. Gavin