Another teachable moment is at hand.
This concerns the Enlisted Record and Report of
Separation (53-55 Discharge).
(Attached is the documentation to go along with this
Someone who I still don't know tried to say that
Defer was in Normandy. They sent me his 53-55
but left off his dates of arrival and going back to
the states. They didn't realize that they left
the date of arrival in the ETO (Europe).
Here is the link to both Defer and Maksin's 53-55.
They both came together 16 May 1944. You can
see where the person left that part blank but not
entirely. I enlarged it so you can see Defer's
date of arrival. Both Maksin and Defer came in
the same convoy if not the same ship most likely.
When someone leaves off part of a 53-55 Discharge
document you know they are trying to hide something.
Received an email yesterday from someone who said he
had a copy of Raymond Deferís 53-55 Discharge.
They wanted to know why I said Defer wasnít in
Normandy since on the discharge paper it said he was
at Normandy and that he had a Bronze Star Arrowhead.
I asked him/her to send ahead the 53-55 as that
would always make it easier to explain this issue to
them. I did ask if they had read the documentation
about Defer before emailing me. No response.
Then I thought why not create a narrative about the
53-55 and what it really means (when possible).
The 53-55 is a great start when doing research on a
WWII Veteran (but it is only a start). I went
looking through the 53-55ís that I have and came
across the perfect example to explain to this
This 53-55 is from Francis A. Maksin who was in Co H
507th Prcht Inf 82nd Abn Div then the 17th Abn Div.
Pvt Maskin first joined Serv Co 507th Prcht Inf 82nd
Abn Div May 29, 1944. He arrived in England on May
16, 1944 and was put into the 19th Replacement
Depot. Then from the 19th Replacement Depot to the
507th Prcht Inf (pages 1 & 2). These men were
replacements for the next Campaign. In this case for
the 507th Prcht Inf the Ardennes for the rest of the
Normandy Paratroop Regiments Holland).
On July 2, 1944 he was transferred to Co A 507th
Prcht Inf (pages 3 & 4). Once the 507th Prcht Inf
got back to England they needed replacements. On
July 19, 1944 Pvt Maskin was transferred to Co H of
the 507th Prcht Inf (pages 5, 6, 7 & 8).
That is where he stayed through the Ardennes where
he received his CIB (pages 9 & 10). Pfc Maksin
jumped into Germany for Operation Varsity (pages 11
& 12). He was wounded on the jump (pages 13 & 14)
and was in the Hospital until the beginning of May
1945 (page 15).
Now that we have that out of the way here is the
53-55 Discharge information (page 16). Pfc Maksinís
53-55 was fairly boring and correct. You will notice
when he arrived in Europe. Those people were not
going into Normandy. They first had to be assigned
to a unit then become integrated with that Company
in this case for Pfc Maksin. That didnít start until
the men from Co H got back from Normandy.
The 53-55 discharge was created when the men got
back from overseas. The typists had a preset list
when filling out the 53.-55 when speaking with the
men. In this case for the 507th Prcht Inf they had a
list that would say Normandy, Ardennes, Rhineland
and Central Europe.
Remember of the show Band of Brothers where a
replacement was wearing the Distinguished Unit Badge
and Cobb yelled at the replacement for wearing it?
If you were in a Unit that had received that award
anyone in the unit could wear it including the
When the typist was filling out the list of Bronze
Service Starts and he say Maksin was entitled to
wear the award he just put down that he was in all
four campaigns for the 507th Prcht Inf including
Normandy. If you look it shows that Maksin was in
England in time to go to Normandy. What the typist
didnít know was that if this was a straight leg unit
(29th Inf Div, 4th Inf Div etc.) that replacement
would have been in the Normandy Campaign.
For Paratroopers that as we all know wasnít true.
Paratroopers were there for 5-6 weeks and they
didnít receive replacements until back in England.
MR. Maksin himself knew he wasnít in Normandy and
never claimed to have been there.
The other interesting part about his 53-55 is the
one highlighted in green. It says Pfc Maksin had
been in the 504th Prcht Inf. That was the unit he
came home with. He didnít have enough points to go
home with the 507th Prcht Inf but in November he did
and went home with the 504th. This happened quite a
bit at this time period. Many of the 4 jumpers from
the 505th Prcht Inf came home with the 507th Prcht
Some made sure to point out to the typists that they
were in the 505th Prcht Inf for most of their time
in service and had that on their 53-55 but not all.
Some didnít pay attention at all, they just wanted
out of the service. Some didnít notice that for
I have seen 53-55s with a man who came into a unit 3
days before the end of the war in Europe and on
their 53-55 it said there were in all the campaigns
of their unit even though he was only there for a
The 53-55 Discharge is a great starting point (and
sometimes perfect) but for the most part there is
going to be wrong information or left off awards and
decorations. Sometimes we had men who tried to
change their 53-55 (and later the DD-214) to give
themselves a higher standing. Adelchi A. Pilutti
that I just put up on my site is the perfect
example. You can see he changed the dates for going
The 53-55 discharge is a starting point and nothing
more most of the time.
March 12, 2017