About Me

My grandfather Richard Gruver, Company F, 503rd PIR, Spring 1942 (Image- REG, InThe503rd.org Collection).

My interest in the 503rd originated from the stories and artifacts my grandfather shared with me when I was a young teenager. From showing me his "cat patch", that was hung on his garage wall, to showing and demonstrating the use of his trench knife, I was fascinated. As a veteran of the 503rd PIR, my grandfather was one of the “old timers” of the unit, having qualified as a Parachutist on March 6, 1942. Through a series of unit re-organizations that the unit experienced in the early years and advancement in rank, he eventually found a home in F Company, Mortar Platoon, as the 2nd squad leader. From Fort Benning to Negros, he was with the 503rd until his discharge on October 29, 1945.

Like many of you reading this, I never set down with him and discussed his time in the service. He passed away in 1994, and at the time, I was just a young adult who was focused on my own life. I didn’t fully understand the accolades of the unit or his time in the service. It was just a fact and it never occurred to me to fully investigate it.

As time moved on and my life settled down, I started recalling some of those special memories I had of my grandfather. My grandmother was still alive, so I started asking questions and she shared with me his military documents and photos. With her passing and the cleaning out of their house, more military items and photos were found, including my grandfather’s military uniform, which was found up in the attic wrapped up tight (somewhat hidden), along with the suit he wore at his wedding. I think my grandfather stashed it up there to keep my grandmother from getting rid of it. She was very tidy.

Those events renewed my interest in my grandfathers military service, thus my journey began. I started seeking out all the information I could find out about the 503rd PRCT and I eventually linked up with the 503rd PRCT Association, WWII. I went to my first National Reunion in 2014, which was held in Terra Haute, Indiana. The men and families of the veterans were just wonderful. It was just one big extended family and I was welcomed with open arms. While there, I had a chance encounter with 90-year-old Burl Martin, who knew and served with my grandfather in F Company, Mortar Platoon. Needless to say, I followed him around like a lost puppy, hanging on to every word he said. Burl has since passed on. That was my first and last encounter with Burl and I will never forget it. Since then, I have been to the last four National Reunions, including hosting the 2015 National Reunion in Dayton, Ohio.

Burl Martin, F Company, 503rd PIR, Wayne Mayer and Todd Mayer. 2014 503rd PRCT Association, WWII National Reunion, Terre Haute, Indiana (Image- InThe503rd.org Collection).

Along the way, I found the Heritage Battalion website crated by Paul Whitman, an aussie who was instrumental in bringing many of the documents and stories we have of the 503rd PRCT to the light of day. Paul has spent years fulfilling his personal mission of sharing and telling the stories of the many veterans he personally got to know. His work was inspirational to my own.

InThe503rd.org came about from a desire to create a simple search program for finding and locating the men listed on the Templeman Corregidor roster, from the book "The Return to Corregidor". I grew tired of using my finger as a pointer, as I browsed for a name. Having some knowledge of databases and coding, I decided to go about a creating a simple search program for my own personal use. As I began typing the names into a spreadsheet, I started thinking of all the possibilities and that others may find a database like this useful and then thought perhaps a website was the way to go.

I didn’t want something vanilla out of the box. I had big ideals and felt a custom website was the way to go. I wanted a way to organized and share my research, collect more information through sharing and honor the veterans of the 503rd PRCT. There was only one problem, I had never built a website before, and so I stated looking at various program languages and IDE’s (Integrated Development Environments) to build the website. After a few years of learning through trial and error, rebuilds and dreaming of code, I finally launched the site in the fall of 2016. I’m adding data and building out the website at the same time, so please bookmark the site and check back every so often for new data and features.

Thanks fore visiting,


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