Jump Into the Valley of the Shadow

The War Memories of Dwayne Burns Communications Sergeant, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Dwayne Burns, Leland Burns

Date Published :
September 2006
Publisher :
Illustration :
16 pages b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781935149835
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available
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When Dwayne Burns turned 18 during World War II, he decided that he wanted to fight alongside America’s best. He joined the paratroopers and was assigned to the 508th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. Little did he suspect that a year later he'd be soaring in a flak-riddled C–47 over Normandy, part of the very spearhead of the Allied drive to seize back Europe.

Burns landed behind German lines during the dark, early hours of D–day, and gradually found other survivors of his division. The paratroopers fought on every side in a confused, running battle through the hedgerows, finally making a stand in a surrounded farmhouse. With one room reserved for their growing piles of corpses, the paratroopers held their ground until finally relieved by infantry advancing from the beaches.

After being pulled out of Normandy, the airborne troops were said to be “burning a hole in SHAEF’s pocket,” and thus were launched into Holland as part of Montgomery’s plan to gain a bridgehead across the Rhine. This daytime jump was less confused than the nocturnal one, but there were more Germans than expected and fewer Allied forces in support. It was another maelstrom of pointblank combat in all directions, and though the 82d achieved its objectives, the campaign as a whole achieved little but casualties.

The 82d had hardly refilled with replacements when the Germans broke through the U.S. front in the Ardennes. The 82nd’s paratroopers were put aboard trucks and hastened to stand in the way of the panzer onslaught. Passing through Bastogne they went farther north to St. Vith, where the U.S. 7th Armored and other divisions were reeling. The 82nd held its own with quickly assembled defense perimeters, allowing other units to escape. After beating off massive attacks by German SS, the paratroopers were disgusted to hear that they, too, had been ordered to retreat. They didn’t feel they needed to, but Monty was determined to “tidy up the battlefield.” On January 3 they counterattacked through the freezing hills, sealing off the Bulge and pursuing the Germans back into the Reich.

In this work, Dwayne Burns, assisted by his son Leland (U.S. Army, 1975–79), not only relates the chaos of combat but the intimate thinking of a young soldier thrust into the center of several of history’s greatest battles. His memories provide a fascinating insight into the reality of close-quarters combat.

About The Author

Dwayne was born on October 21, 1924 in Fort Worth. He lived most of his life in the Lake Worth and Haltom City area. He married Mildred True on August 15, 1948. Dwayne worked 26 years as an engineer for Bell Helicopter. He earned his pilot's rating in sail planes and single engine aircraft. Dwayne painted, drew, played the guitar, sang and occasionally wrote songs. For many years he created stained glass windows from his original designs.As the father of four children, two boys and two girls, Dwayne enjoyed spending time with his children, grandchildren and extended family. Some of his favorite pastimes were camping, fishing and travelling. He was a long time member of the 508th Association and hosted two F-Company reunions.Dwayne jumped to his final reward on Tuesday, August 8, 2006 at a Grapevine, Texas, hospital.


1 “No one is to be off base for any reason.”
2 The ship was bouncing like some wild bronco.
3 “There are no options. We’ll hold our ground right here.”
4 “He didn’t make it. He’s dead.”
5 “Strap on the radio and stay close.”
6 “Make me a sergeant.”
7 “You’re not killing anyone; you’re shooting at a target.”
8 “My gosh, what are we going to do?”
9 We ran for the lights and shot from the hip.
10 “We’ve been ordered to move up and stop them.”
11 Christmas just couldn’t get any worse than this.
12 “Fox Three, do you copy?”
13 “Are you trying to take me out with an 88?”
14 Nothing was too good for Eisenhower’s Red Devils.
15 “I’m not a damn Yank, I’m from Texas!”



"I was glad to see this book...tells his story from the bottom side. It looked different from a foxhole. The book is told in the form of a bunch of little stories, not a day by day diary. This makes it much more interesting, and I recommend it highly."

- Books-On-Line

… Sadly DWAYNE passed away just hours before the full account went to press. The BURNS team produced a book that keeps the reader's interested from cover to cover… As you read Jump into the Valley of the Shadow, a prominent theme, the Brotherhood of the paratroopers, is apparent and runs through the whole book: You will notice their concern for each other and their grief over their fallen comrades. "

- The Static Line

"Destined to Become a Classic World War II Memoir… a masterful job of taking the reader along on a compelling journey…It is war, as seen from the foxhole and is destined to become a classic World War II memoir."

- Phil Nordyke, 82nd Airborne Division historian and author of More Than Courage: The Combat History of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment in World War II and All American All the Way: The Combat History of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, and other titles

"A true member of the Greatest Generation, Burns’ fascinating story is well worth reading."

- Flight Journal

"…riveting and insightful…extremely human recollections…"

- Air Power History, Winter 2009

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