BOYLE William J, 1st battalion commander, 517th para US army

William J. (Wild Bill) BOYLE was born on Aug. 29, 1917, to William L. and Marie FOLEY BOYLE in Brooklyn, NY and had one brother, Joseph. He was an accomplished track athlete in high school, participating in the 1935 Millrose Games, graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1935. On 1st of july 1935 he entered the famous United States Military Academy of West Point New York and graduated with the other 455 westpointers of the class 1939 on the 12 of june at the age of 22.

This was the first class to graduate in the newly constructed Fieldhouse and President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented diplomas to 338 graduates commissioned into the Army and 118 who joined the Army Air Corps. 

"we are the first and biggest of the “large” classes. We entered on the wings of Change, almost 800 of us in the beginning, to fill increased appointments resulting from re-awakened desire for adequate national defense."

After graduation, he was sent to the Panama canal zone. Back to the United Stades, on december 7 1941 he was stationed at the Fort Benning airborne training center in Georgia when he learned about the japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 


West point class 1939
West point class 1939

The story of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team begins with the activation of the 17th Airborne Division on March 15, 1943.

The regiment made training at Camp Toccoa from 15 March to 8 August 1943, a new army training center to prepare paratroopers to hard physical training with the famous run up to mount Curahee , Georgia. the 460th and C/139 were at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.

As units filled up, they were to be given basic training at their home stations and then sent for parachute qualification to Fort Benning, Georgia.  After jump training, all units, including the 517th would join the 17th Airborne at Camp Mackall. On activation, the regiment had a total strength of nine officers, headed by newly appointed commanding officer Lt. Col. Louis A. Walsh, Jr.  They were joined three days later by the "cadre" under command of Major William J. Boyle, bringing the regiment's strength to about 250. By the end of April, Major BOYLE's lst Battalion was almost complete. 

With the rank of Major, he became 1st battalion commander of the 517th.

 By the end of April, Major Boyle's lst Battalion was almost complete.  In February, the regiment moved to Tennessee to take part in maneuvers being conducted by Headquarters Second Army.  The "Tennessee Maneuvers" were a sort of little practice war that went on year-round.  Participation in the Tennessee Maneuvers was supposed to be the final test before a unit could be pronounced combat-ready.


from the mud of Tennessee, the 517th PRCT emerged. The parachute units were hastily shipped back to Camp Mackall to prepare for overseas movement.


In june 1944, he was sent with his unit in Europe he saw his fisrt  action in Italy where he was wounded for the first time on Monte Peloso where a mortar fragments hit him on the leg.

End of july, the 517th was sent near Roma in differents Airbase to train and prepare the invasion of Southern France.

BOYLE and his men were in last 517th Serial number 9 living Italy at 01.49 am, flown by the 435th Group from Canino airfield.

  Major Boyle's 1st Battalion and  C Battery of the 460th parachute artillery Battalion. were scaterred in a area of 5 miles between villages of Les Arcs and Trans en Provence.

Major BOYLE and a handful of 1st Battalion near Nouradons hamlet. At this place french civilan OHANESSIAN and DAVID guide the group on day light to Les ARCS.

Remaining elements of the 1st Battalion captured assigned objectives. (page under construction, please come later)

Major WILLIAM BOYLE at Canino airfield, august 14th, few hours before take off
Major WILLIAM BOYLE at Canino airfield, august 14th, few hours before take off