Participant of the same regiment to which belonged the legendary "Band of Brothers," Wolverton"s men fought in the epic Operation Overlord, Operation Market Garden and Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne. Despite being killed before landing on French soil Order of battle for the American airborne landings in Normandy, Wolverton"s legacy endured, particularly on the strength of a prayer spoken to the 750 men in his battalion hours before the Doctorate-Day parachute drop behind enemy lines. The colonel Robert Wolverton"s words were cited by President Ronald Reagan in a 1984 speech from Normandy on the 40th anniversary of the invasion and recounted in numerous books and in Newsweek and Associated Press stories on a battalion reunion held in Kansas City on the first Doctorate-Day anniversary after the war.
Following is a recounting of the prayer: The men were called together, and they stood in the orchard on either side of a low earthen mound which fenced the fields.
Upon the earthen hedgerow stood Lieutenant Robert L. Wolverton, commanding officer of 3rd battalion, 506th PIR. And the colonel said: "Men, I am not a religious man and I don"t know your feelings in this matter, but I am going to ask you to pray with me for the success of the mission before us.
And while we pray, let us get on our knees and not look down but up with faces raised to the sky so that we can see God and ask his blessing in what we are about to do: God almighty, in a few short hours we will be in battle with the enemy. We do not join battle afraid.
We do not ask favors or indulgence but ask that, if You will, use us as Your instrument for the right and an aid in returning peace to the world.
We do not know or seek what our fate will be. We ask only this, that if die we must, that we die as men would die, without complaining, without pleading and safe in the feeling that we have done our best for what we believed was right. Oh Lord, protect our loved ones and be near us in the fire ahead and with us now as we pray to you." All were silent for two minutes as the men were left, each with his individual thoughts.
Then the colonel ordered, "Move out." A few hours later, Robert Wolverton was killed by German machine gun fire in an orchard outside Saint-Come-du-Mont, Normandy, France.
According to Editor Shames, Wolverton sustained "162 bullet holes and bayonet wounds" due to German troops using him as target practice. Of the paratroopers in his plane, 5 were killed (including Wolverton), 7 were captured (some later escaped) and 3 successfully fought on.
Original World World War II uniforms and memorabilia from Lieutenant Wolverton are on display at these museums: Doctorate-Day Paratroopers Historical Center - Battle of Normandy - Saint-Côme-du-Mont, France Monument to Lieutenant
Robert Wolverton At Saint-Come-du-Mont, Normandy, France.