ALIAS by Richard E. Turner (101 ABN Division/506 PIR/B Co) Passed away August 2007
In the 1984 edition of "Happy Landings", in several stories (titled "Dutch Treat",
"Patch Catch", and "Chicken Delight", to be specific), I mentioned that parachutists
of the 101st made a daylight jump into The Netherlands on Sunday, September 17, 1944.
This included the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and my company "B" of that regiment.
After leaving the jump field near Son, the 506th P.I.R. headed south towards Eindhoven,
and captured that fairly large city (over 25,000 people) on September 18, 1944. The people of Eindhoven at the time were very happy, almost ecstatic, at their having been
liberated, and have not forgotten about the American and British soldiers helping to
liberate their country, many of them by parachute near Son, Nimegan, Arnhem, etc.,
in September 1944. In the afternoon of September 18, 1944, after Eindhoven was liberated,
I found myself standing guard with my M-1 rifle in a doorway in the downtown area, on the main drag. The Eindhoven people, old and young, were very happy about their having been liberated,
and wanted to do something for their liberators to show their appreciation. They would
crowd around me while I was on guard, and would give me things to eat and drink, consisting
of very thin ham sandwiches and pale beer. In exchange, I gave the children some (not all)
of my chocolate, and the adults some (not all) of my cigarettes. After a while, the people (old and young) asked me for my autograph. This is the only time
anyone ever did. I signed my name very carefully at the start (Richard E. Turner), and after
signing 30 or 40 times, and getting progressively more sloppy with my handwriting, I decided
to give myself an alias, and/or shorter name, in order to hasten the autograph signing process. At the time and especially in the few years prior to WW2, there was a horse-riding cowboy in
the U.S. movie pictures; an actor who was one of the good guys, very popular, who wore a white
hat, and did away with a lot of bad guys with his pistol. I decided to use his name to sign
as my autograph, and did. I found it much quicker to sign "TOM MIX" than my own name, and did
this 20 to 25 times. With hindsight, it may not have been the most ethical or proper thing to do; but it was a lot
quicker and who was going to argue with me about it? No one did.
"Alias" is one of a collection of stories compiled by Richard E. Turner in a booklet called
"Happy Landings & Happy Landings II" (1984-2006, copyright Richard E. Turner). All of the
stories in this
collection are built around the lighter moments during the dark times of World War Two. It's with Dick's permission that we highlight the story titled ALIAS on this website. Thank you, Dick. We hope the story will contribute in the dedication to the memory of the members of the 101st Airborne Division who paid the supreme sacrifice in France,
Holland and Belgium during World War II.
Dick Turner March 1945
E. Turner and, right, Stanley Z. Soter - 506/1B,
We invite the reader to react to the story by emailing the Screaming Eagles of WWII Foundation.