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Leonard A Funk Jr.

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The last few days I was sitting around wondering if this guy was alive or dead. For most part I figured he was dead considering the last time I saw him.


As some of you know Im a Marine but prior to my Marine service I had served with the Army 82nd ABN Co.C 1/508th.


Some of you may not believe what about to tell you but I can assure you its true.


In early 1981 I arrived to Co.C I was the youngest trooper in the divison at the time barely 17 years old an still a virgin. I didnt care for jumping very much never did but I enjoyed the spirit of the paratroopers.


Shortly after my arrival to the company I was instructed to make a demo jump during daylight hours long with other members of my plt an my plt ldr. I was basically asked if I wanted to make the jump an to be honest I think my reply was if you need me sir Ill jump if not well I would just rather watch. I always had a bad feeling about jumping.


At this time the 1/508th had the highest average of jumpers killed an injured. My 2nd jump we had 2 troopers entangle with each other an both ended up being killed. My roommate was also killed in another jump an after afew months you can walk around an always find a buddy who has been injured in some way.


Its not fun an games that folks make it. Serious bussiness that demands you pay great attention to whats happening on board the aircraft. Hollywood jumping is one thing but Mass Tacs are something totally different. It only takes a second for some situation to develope that could cost you a limb or even your life.


Getting back to the story Lt Armstrong my plt ldr asked me so I said yes if you need me. I was his RTO so I was jumping in front of him. It was 1 bird mass tac exit daylight equipment drop. The ride was smooth to the DZ an my exit was good. We were jumping from a C-130 both doors. After I exited I looked up to checked my canopy an all was well till I saw my plt ldr coming down thru the top of my canopy.


I yelled to hiim but it was too late. He came crashing down thru my canopy lines an ended up entangled with me. My first action was to look at the sun on the horizion an say my famous line. "GOD HELP ME OUT HERE PLZ".


He tried hard to get out but it wasnt happening. Finally after afew seconds my chute started to collapse an I knew we were both in trouble. we were jumping from 1500ft an thats normally higher than we do for our combat jumps but this was a demo for the convention. On the side of the drop zone were the WW2 Vets that served with the 82nd Abn.


In this group of vets was Lenord Funk. In WW2 at the age of 22 he held the 1st sgt billet with the actual rank for Co.C 1/508th. He was known for his bravery but what alot of folks dont know is that he made 3 combat jumps with a hotdog attached to he harness. Ive seen pictures of this an know for a fact that its true. The hotdog was later killed after being struck by a truck passing by his position.


Lt Armstrong an I kept talking to each other the entire time we were dropping. For a second I thought about cutting away but didnt have enough faith in my reserve for it to open before I hit the ground. Well to make this short we both ended up hitting the deck really hard. I was fine but Lt Armstrong was injured.


He shook it off for the old Vets an hobbled up to the area where the vets were waiting. I ran up to a group that I knew were from my company in WW2 along with these members was Funk. Everyone was shaking hands an saying wow that was close are you alright Creepy. I said I was fine but I could tell that Lt Armstrong had a leg or foot injury but being the Ranger he was he wasnt showing it to them.


Most of the members were wearing a necklace Im not sure what you call it around theyre necks. Next thing I know is that Mr Funk comes over to me an pulls his off. He asked me how old I am an how many jumps I have. I tell him an then he says young man you need some good luck. He takes off his good luck necklace an places it over my neck. Then he says to me "I made 2 combat drops with this Normandy an Nienmagen an it has brought me good luck. I want you to have this.


I was shocked. I accepted it an I could tell Lt Armstrong was thinking you lucky little s**t. I wore it for months showered with it had sex with it on an never made a jump without it. A couple of years later I was on Ft Bragg on patrol. I needed to changed my t-shirt so I removed the good luck piece an hung it from a branch. While doing this we had to move suddenly an I grabbed my gear an got back in patrol formation an headed out.


Not realizing I left it behind we moved out finished our patrol. The next morning I we arrived back at the company an I noticed it was missing. I grabbed my map an started asking fellowing troopers where they thought that security checkpoint was. I could not figure it out. I went back to the area on my motorcycle that afternoon an searched the area where I thought we were at. No luck. I felt s**tty for days I didnt want to look at myself in the mirror.


Finally one day I said to myself if theres any place that belongs its in the woods on Bragg. Hopefullly some patrol with come thru an someone will find it. After Funk gave me that piece I never had another entanglment again. Although my roommate was killed in a daylight drop my luck never changed. I hope someone has it now an theyre taking care of it.


That evening after the drop I was invited along with other members of my company to the hotel of the 1/508th Co.C WW2 vets. They partied all night an I found out that shortly before coming to Bragg Mr Funk had open heart surgery. He showed no signs of being week. These vets were the nicest most hoble men I have ever met. They broke out pictures an you heard so many stories. Mr Funk never bragged bout anything.


Everyone around him was telling us how brave he was an even tho he won the MOH there were many other times that he went above an beyond in battle. This man was a drafted from PA. I talked to him for about 30min and he never mentioned his bravery. It was all about the Co an the men an how well his men fought the germans. Its been many years since that conversation but I can still hear his voice an his laughter.


Today I found out that he did die in 1992 of cancer an while sitting here playing some music I thought I would share this with some of you that might be able to relate or have passion for our history an the men who gave up so much so we would not be where Hitler wanted us to be.


Heres the information about his military achievements an his MOH.







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