Raymond P. DEFER
Company H
502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division


Carentan, June 4, 2014.
Inauguration of Cole Monument and Ceremony at Carré de Choux

Short Biography (from greatest generation foundation): "Raymond (Ray) Pierre Defer was born in St John de L'one, France June 3, 1923 and immigrated to the US in 1939 at the age of fifteen. When he was eighteen he wanted to enlist in the military but was denied because he was not a US citizen. Raymond wrote a letter to president Roosevelt requesting to join the military. A short time later, Ray received a reply stating that he was allowed to join the US Army or Navy.

Ray chose the Army because of the severe seasickness he encountered on his voyage to the US. Ray was sent to Camp Grant, IL for basic training and medic school and then was sent to the 27th Recreational Hospital. After a while he requested to be transferred but was denied so he volunteered for the Airborne and was sent to Fort Benning for jump school. After becoming airborne qualified he spent a short time with the 13th Airborne Division before being sent to England. When he arrived in England, the young paratrooper was assigned to H Company, 502th PIR, 101st Airborne Division and was placed in a mortar squad of H company, 502nd PIR, 101st Division. When it was discovered he had medic training they placed him in 3rd platoon, H Company as a medic. On June 6, 1944, he performed his first combat jump in Normandy as a medic. Ray landed near Carentan on D-Day in Normandy and immediately began treating wounded soldiers. He was wounded in Normandy with shrapnel. Next he jumped into Netherlands at Best during Operation Market Garden. His unit met up with the 82nd Airborne at Nijmegen and pushed forward to Arnhem. He fought in and around Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and stayed with the 502nd through Austria at the end of the war in May 1945

(About Col. Cole)
"Of course I didn't know Col. Cole personally, he was my commander, after all," Defer said. "But I served his men as a medic and I can tell you there are a lot of memories in this place. It was a very tough time."

Cole personally led his battalion to capture four remaining bridges on the road to Carentan, when his entire unit was suddenly pinned to the ground by intense and withering enemy fire from German rifles, machine guns, mortars, and artillery from heavily fortified positions.

The unrelenting fire caused numerous casualties, keeping medics like Defer busy, and kept troops in place for over an hour. Cole made a desperate and courageous call to order an assault on the enemy position with fixed bayonets, a dangerous tactic that had become unconventional since the end of World War I.