The World War II Victory Parade began at exactly 1 p.m. from Washington Square, through Washington Arch and up 5th Avenue to 82nd St., where the official reviewing stand stood, finishing at 59th Street. This parade was the largest since 1919 when Gen. Pershing led his Victory Parade after WWI.
Leading the formation was none other than 38 year-old Lt. Gen. James Gavin, youngest division commander in the U.S. Army, and the third commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, who, when asked if he would ride or walk, replied, “I’ve walked all over this ... earth. I guess I can make it with the lads.”
Chosen as a typical fighting unit, the 82nd Abn. Div. colors carried 10 battle streamers from the war. With 467 days of combat time, the Division was decorated for its many victories in battle.
As a formation of aircrafts flew over-head, heavy weapons, Sherman Tanks, artillery and other military vehicles made their way down the streets during the parade’s mile and a half journey amidst the marching Paratroopers. As American flags waved from street corners and windows, torn paper, ripped telephone books and ticker tape made a blizzard of confetti throughout the parade to the point where the paratroopers became hidden from the public eye.
Not all who served under the 82nd Abn. Div. were able to march in the parade. No longer with the Division, these individuals, most of whom were present at Normandy and Sicily, could only view the parade from the sidelines.
(Editor’s note: Information for these photos was provided by the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division’s Facebook page.)