6 Replies Latest reply on Feb 5, 2019 2:26 PM by Rebecca Collier

    MAJOR JOHN P. STOPKA, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

    David Ashe Newbie

      My name is David A. Ashe. I am a transplanted Irishman living in Ravenoville, Normandy, France.

       

      I am seeking details of any records pertaining to MAJOR JOHN P STOPKA, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Maj Stopka was ranking officer of a group of paratroopers that captured a farm complex called Marmion Farm at Ravenoville. The farm was the local German HQ.

       

      Maj Stopka was awarded the DSC for his actions at Carentan on June 11, 1944. He was later promoted to CO of 3rd Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was KIA near Bastogne, Belgium on January 14, 1945. Lt Col Stopka is buried in Luxembourg American Cemetery.

       

       

      I am particularly seeking a roster compiled by Maj Stopka at Marmion Farm on June 7, 1944 of all the men under his command, from both the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions.

       

      Very respectfully

       

       

      David A Ashe

        • Re: MAJOR JOHN P. STOPKA, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
          Rebecca Collier Pioneer

          Dear Mr. Ashe,

           

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          We searched the series titled World War II Operations Reports, 1940 - 1948 in RG 407 and located General Order No. 107 (1944) awarding Major Stopka the DSC [file # 97-USF1-1.13] as well as a history titled “The Carentan Causeway Fight, June 1944” [file # 3101-INF(502)-0.3.0]. Although we were unable to locate the roster compiled by Stopka at the Marmion Farm on 7 June 1944, we did locate an awards/citations file for 1944-1945 [file # 3101-INF(502)-1.6] that may include the names you seek.

           

          For access to and copies of these files, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.

           

          We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

           

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          • Re: MAJOR JOHN P. STOPKA, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
            David Ashe Newbie

            Hi Rebecca

            Thank You so very much for your message!

            I will email the National Archives at College Park later today.

            I have copies of both Maj Stopka's DSC citation and the Causeway Fight. The elusive roster may well remain so, it was compiled just before the mixed elements of the 101st Airborne plus one stick from the 82nd left the farm to seek their units following the June 7 link-up between the paratroopers and the 4th ID arriving from Utah Beach.

            This is my first 'direct' foray into National Archives, other than online NARA enlistment records. Briefly: I moved to Ravenoville in March 2009. Unlike many other towns/villages hereabouts with a D-Day story Ravenoville was an exception, largely due to the indifference of the local Mayor. In the Winter of 2011/12 I set out to reverse that indifference by erecting a Memorial to the paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions who fought on June 6-7, 1944 to liberate my adopted home. The Memorial was inaugurated on June 6, 2012 and each June since I have organised a ceremony Honouring the 'Raveno Boys' as I call them, in the presence of veterans, families and other guests.

             

            The three panels of the Memorial record 84 names of the Boys identified up to June 2012, the result of 18 months' intensive research beforehand. Today, that number stands at 101 - the research never ends! I hope to raise funds to replace/upgrade the panels for June 2019 and the 75th Anniversary.

            As I outlined, Maj John Stopka was ranking officer commanding mixed, mis-dropped elements of the 101st, with one stick from the 82nd. He and his men held Ravenoville for 30 hours until reinforced/relieved by the 4th ID arriving from Utah Beach.

            I have a three-page typed copy of testimony from a Capt Fred Culpepper, a parachute artilleryman at Ravenoville. He mentioned after the June 7 link-up Major Stopka compiled a roster of all the troopers under his command. For me, the 'Holy Grail' in my quest to identify all the Boys! Probably a long shot, I do have a typed copy of his account of events on D-Day morning, with emphasis on the personal heroism and leadership of Lt Ernest O. Harris, who led the assault on the numerically-superior German garrison holding Marmion Farm. Lt Harris was recommended for the DSC, however he was KIA at Carentan on June 11, 1944 and didn't live to receive the award. In the same action, Maj Stopka was awarded the DSC for his heroism. I have a copy of the Harris DSC award.

            Maj Stopka's testimony originated with author Joseph Balkoski, who I had the huge pleasure of meeting in Baltimore in 2014. Joe very kindly shared his research, which also identified hitherto unknown names of other Boys.

            I've just checked Joe's seminal 'Utah Beach' for any reference to the Stopka documents. I found this: 'Stopka', The lead scout, NA, RG 338, Stack 290, Box 13, First Army Awards, Harris DSC File.' Can you assist with this reference?

            I have Lt Col Stopka's IDPF, and those of the 21 other Raveno Boys who didn't get to go home. He was killed by friendly fire near Bastogne in January 1945, a P-47 fighter dropped a bomb on a group of 101st troopers perceived to be the enemy. Col Stopka was decapitated.

            These long-dead men continue to exert an extraordinary influence on my life - none of it was supposed to happen. Happenstance!

            While I'm here, do you know if the awards/citations file for 1944-1945 includes Purple Heart awards?

            Sorry for the dissertation and merci beaucoup!

            In Friendship

            David

              • Re: MAJOR JOHN P. STOPKA, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
                Rebecca Collier Pioneer

                Dear Mr. Ashe,

                 

                Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!

                 

                The reference 'Stopka', The lead scout, NA, RG 338, Stack 290, Box 13, First Army Awards, Harris DSC File.' your provided is a partial location and archival citation for the awards case file of Lt. Ernest O. Harris in the series titled Awards Files, ca. 1942 - ca. 1945. The 12-page file includes a 2-page recommendation written by LTC John Stopka. No roster is included in the file.

                 

                The awards/citations file for 1944-1945 does not list those awarded the Purple Heart, just other awards such as the Bronze Star. Purple Heart Awards were given at the division level (both 101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division) and would be part of the general orders for 1944 [file # 3101-1.13 & 382-1.13] in the series titled World War II Operations Reports, 1940 - 1948.

                 

                We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

                 

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                  • Re: MAJOR JOHN P. STOPKA, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
                    David Ashe Newbie

                    Hi Rebecca

                     

                    Thank you yet again for your warp speed reply!

                     

                    The Stopka 'box' 12-page file, other than the pages for the Harris DSC, can you tell me what the other pages refer to...? Anything Normandy-related is of tremendous value.

                     

                    The awards citation file for 1944-45 is equally of interest, I'm seeking intel/citations for awards to any of the Raveno Boys between D-Day - May 1945.

                     

                    The Purple Hearts. Am I correct in thinking all such awards were GO's for 1944-45? The KIA's with Posthumous awards are understood, and from written testimony/memoirs I know of quite a few instances of PH awards for wounds received in combat.

                     

                    I have the full names and ASN's for all the boys known, or believed to have fought here on June 6-7, 1944. My quest goes beyond Normandy, through Holland and Belgium into Germany to war's end. As I mentioned before, I have the IDPF's for the KIA's, and NARA POW details for five other Boys. I wish to establish who was also wounded, in many instances more than once, and awards such as the BSM, SSM, DSC such as Stopka and Harris. I believe all the surviving Boys received the BSM, and I know of at least two instances where the BSM was awarded for heroism.

                     

                    Is there any way my list of 100 names/ASN's could be cross-checked against the records you mentioned?

                     

                    In Friendship

                     

                    David

                • Re: MAJOR JOHN P. STOPKA, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
                  Jim Reekie Newbie

                  Hi David,

                  I also am an amateur historian and have recently expanded my reading about the 101st Airborne in Normandy.  I have also been researching the action at the Marmion Farm to gain more insight into Don Burgett's role there as well as his actions/movements on June 6/7.  While I do not have the answer to your question, I have a few sources you can check to see if the individuals mentioned there are included in your list of names.

                   

                  George Koskimaki- D-Day with the Screaming Eagles.  In Chapter 11, "the Five-O-Deuce", he has a small section titled "Major Stopka's Group" which lists several individuals who participated in the action there.

                   

                  Don Burgett- Currahee.  Also mentions the names of individuals Mr. Burgett fought with at Marmion Farm.  Found it interesting that Mr. Burgett in his book, as well as Walter (Smokey) Gordon, of Easy Company, 506 PIR fame, in the Koskimaki book, both refer to a large side of beef which the Germans had hanging in their kitchen.

                   

                  You are probably aware of Mark Bando, the incredible resource on all things 101 Airborne related.  He would no doubt be interested in your efforts to recognize the men who fought in the Ravenoville area, and may be able to further assist.

                   

                  I did tour the Marmion Farm and Ravenoville area in the summer of 2015.  I anticipate being back sometime in the next two years.  Hope to meet you when I am in the area.

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