Veteran Profile: Raymond Boldery
After 70 years, paratrooper Boldery
still has his jump boots
Milton, Ky., resident was an Army Airborne
paratrooper in war
MILTON, Ky. (September 2015) – As a paratrooper during World War II, Raymond Boldery saw the war in a different light. From his vantage point high in the sky, the war took on new meaning, not only having been fought by land and sea, but also by air.
Raymond Boldery, 91, of Milton, Ky., poses with Jeff Thoke (right) during their recent Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.
Boldery, 91, is a World War II veteran from Milton, Ky. After joining the service, he not only fought in combat but trained to become an Army Airborne Paratrooper and was with the 17th and 82nd Airborne in the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He attended jump school in England, where he earned his wings and diploma.
The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment was activated on July 20, 1942, at Ft. Benning, Ga. After arriving in North Ireland in Dec. 1943, the 507th was attached to the 82nd Airborne. The 82nd Airborne specialized in parachute assault operations into denied areas.
Paratroopers like Boldery were used for tactical advantage because they could be positioned in areas not accessible by land. They were also trained in conducting drop zones, pickup zones and landing sites for various aircraft.
Paratroopers were first used extensively by the Germans during World War II and later in the war by the western Allies. The first U.S. Army Combat Jump was near Oran, Algeria, in North Africa on Nov. 8, 1942.
Born and raised in Trimble County, Ky., Boldery enlisted in the U.S. Army not long afterward on May 1943 because it was what “everybody did back in those days. All my buddies were gone, so I decided I wanted to go.”
During 1943 to 1946, he had many harrowing experiences. He was called into action in Germany at the Battle of the Bulge on Christmas Day, 1945. He took a C-47 from England and landed in Reims, France, where he was escorted by truck to the front lines near the Meuse River.
Boldery was in combat action through Belgium, Luxemburg and up to the Siegfried Line. He was sent back to France for refitting and then parachuted into Germany near Wiesel, where he fought in numerous campaigns as he traveled through the Ruhr Valley passing through Essen and other towns.
On Dec. 16, the Germans launched a surprise offensive through the Ardennes Forest. The advance came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. He said of the Battle of the Bulge experience, “I slept on the ground in snow at 30 degrees below zero. I walked across Belgium and Luxembourg.”
Boldery said, “I was in Munster, Germany, when the war in Europe ended. We went to one little town and one little village after another and liberated one or two prisoner of war camps.”
Following Germany’s surrender, the 82nd Airborne entered Berlin for occupation duty, which lasted from April until December 1945. U.S. Gen. George Patton was so impressed with the 82nd’s honor guard that he was quoted as saying, “In all my years in the Army and all the honor guards I have ever seen, the 82nd’s honor guard is undoubtedly the best.”
Boldery was discharged from the Army on Jan. 7, 1946. He earned the Bronze Star and Presidential Citation during his stay in the Army.
After the war, Boldery returned home and “did what most World War II veterans did. I went to work.” He began farming in 1946 with his brother, Hayden. In addition to farming, Boldery also worked as a correctional officer.
He recently made headlines when it was revealed he had worn his jump (or paratrooper) boots on an Honor Flight trip this past summer. These were the very same boots he wore when he parachuted into Germany in March 1945.
Boldery said, “People went crazy” over his boots. “They had set in the closet for 30 years. My wife shinned them up. You could see yourself in the toe.”
Many people have “never seen jump boots before,” said Boldery. People often compare them to combat boots, but they are not the same type of boot. “They are only issued to the airborne paratroopers,” he said proudly.
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