Pratt, Don, born 12-07-1892 in Brookfield, Missouri, received his military commission after he enlisted for World War I, in August 1917, as Second Lieutenant. From 1932 to 1936 he served as Adjutant, 15th Infantry Regiment , in Tientsin, China. Next he was an instructor, for the infantry school at Fort Benning, Georgia, from 1937 unit 1941. Upon the United States entry into World War II, he was named Chief-of-Staff, 43rd Infantry Division , “Winged Victory Division”. 1941-1942. His next assignment, in August 1942, was as the Deputy Commander, for the newly formed 101st Airborne Division, at the rank of Brigadier General. Pratt was named the Assistant Division Commander on 15-09-1943, under Major General William Carey “Bill” Lee. Stationed near the town of Newbury, England, on 09-09-1944, Lee suffered a major heart attack. Pratt thought that he would be chosen to succeed Lee, but Maxwell Davenport Taylor, then 82nd Airborne Artillery Commander , was given command of the 101st Airborne . The 101st Airborne Division had the next losses during their campaign in Europe; In Normandy, killed/died of wounds 868, wounded in action 2.303, missing/captured 665. In Holland killed 752, wounded 2.151 and missing 398. In the battle of the Bulge in Belgium, killed 482, wounded 2.449 and missing 527, in total killed 2.043, wounded 2.782 and missed 1590. The 82nd Airborne Division casualties during their European campaign, 1.619 killed in action, 6.560 wounded in action and 332 died of wounds.
For the American airborne landings as part of the Invasion of Normandy General Pratt, originally assigned to command the division train and reserve troops of the 101st to be landed by sea, received permission to land with a force of CG-4A Waco gliders
assigned to Mission Chicago, the first U.S. glider assault during the invasion. Pratt flew as a passenger, along with his aide 1st Lieutenant John L. May, in the lead glider, a quickly substituted CG-4A with a bolt-on Griswold nose protection device, painted to represent The Fighting Falcon. The original “Fighting Falcon” was moved to position #45 in the flight serial. It was a CG-4A paid for by War Bond funds raised by Greenville, Michigan students who intended to raise the $17.000 cost of one glider, but ended up raising over $72.000,
Death and burial ground of Pratt, Don Forrester.
Piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Michael “Mike” Murphy, senior glider pilot of IX Troop Carrier Command and Second Lieutenant John M. Butler, the 1st glider came down into its designated landing zone, LZ “E”, two miles west of Sainte Marie du Mont, Manche, Normandy, between 0345 and 0400 hours on June 6, 1944. The Waco glider landed successfully but when Lieutenant Colonel Murphy applied the brakes, the tall wet grass caused the glider to skid without significant slowing, and it overran the landing zone, crashing into a hedgerow line of 40-foot-tall (12 m) poplar trees.Lieutenant Colonel Murphy suffered severe injuries, with both legs broken, one a compound fracture . Pratt age 51 and Butler were killed. A tree limb came through the co-pilot side of the cockpit, killing Butler. Pratt, sitting in the Jeep, died from a broken neck resulting from whiplash . the Jeep was not chained, but was tied down with nylon rope and did not break loose. Lieutenant May was riding on the jump seat behind the Jeep and survived the crash. Don Pratt was first buried, wrapped in a parachute, in Normandy until the end of the war, then re interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Section 11. Mike Murphy passed away quietly in N. W. Ohio, on 11-04-1981. He was 74 years old and had lived a full and fruitful life.
More than 40 German divisions were destroyed during the Battle of Normandy. No exact figures are available, but historians estimate that the battle cost the German forces a total of around 450.000 men, of whom 240.000 were killed or wounded. The Allies had achieved this blow at a cost of 209.672 casualties among the ground forces, including 36.976 killed and 19.221 missing. In addition, 16.714 Allied airmen were killed or went missing in direct connection with Operation Overlord.
Cemetery location of Pratt, Don Forrester.