At approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 6, 1944, the commander of the 101st Airborne Division landed heavily in a French pasture near the village of Ste. Marie-du-Mont in Normandy. Major General Maxwell Taylor had no time to reflect on the fact that he was the first United States general ever to parachute into combat, as well as the first American general on enemy soil in Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France.
Manipulating his shroud lines, Taylor narrowly avoided a tree. Next he struggled to extricate himself from his harness. From a nearby field came the sound of a German machine pistol like ‘a ripping seat of pants. After ten frustrating minutes of fighting buckles and snaps, Taylor used a knife to cut himself free. Pistol in one hand and an identifying metal cricket in the other, the general set out in the darkness in search of American soldiers.