The AWOL Colonel
Colonel Ralph Bagby, formerly of New Haven, Missouri, had served as a pilot during World War I and was called into service during the Second World War to help plan the airborne operations for the D-Day invasion.
The 48-year-old colonel's story really grows interesting when he went AWOL from his 9th Air Force Staff duties prior to the invasion and hitched a ride with a group of paratroopers on an Allied glider and made his first parachute jump during the beginning stages of the invasion. The group he was with went on to attack German fortifications and gun positions.
According to the June 11, 1944 edition of the Oakland Tribune, the former Missourian "went along to 'see how things were going,' has been reprimanded and will be decorated." The paper further noted, "As a staff officer he was not supposed to take an active part in the operations."
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.