Whilst around the camp you can guarantee that the public will engage with you. Normally you'll have the same conversation a 100 times over the course of a weekend. However, every now and then they will throw you a curve-ball and ask something bizarre, of course you'll never know the answer to everything. What is expect is that everyone know what they are and what there individual roles and responsibilities would have been. A trooper having by far the easiest 'get out jail free card' here, your responsibilities are to you fellow troopers and not letting them down and simply to do what ever your told. You'd have no idea of the bigger picture and for most of the time you'd have no idea where you were and it would make not a blind bit of difference if you did! So those new comers to the unit can for the most part not have to explain much unless you have a specific other role such as radioman, runner, part of an LMG team, bazooka or mortar man.
With more rank, comes more responsibilities. You maybe a Cpl in charge of a mortar section, a Sgt in charge of a rifle squad, regardless of what ever your role is, you need to know the basics of what that involves. All this will be explained if you don't know and if we don't know we'll all learn together. As I said before, we can't all know everything!
Your role will mainly comprise of two aspects - your rank and any trades/duties/professions you have.
The public love variety, despite an infantry company being made of 99% primarily the same bog-standard-rifleman; this isn't too interesting to look at or engage-with as a member of the public. If a member of the public had a chat with each member of the group, they will get a varied answer from each member with a different rank/role.
Officers Classifications (S & G; 1-4)
Firstly this is as brief as I can make it. For a full understanding of how complicated this system is, please read FM 101-5 STAFF OFFICERS’ FIELD MANUAL - THE STAFF AND COMBAT ORDERS if you get more than a few pages in without falling asleep you did well! Link at the bottom of the page.
To understand the roles of the officers, each officer had a coding system that started with a letter (G or S) to denote if they worked for the General Staff, or Special Staff; and then followed by a number (1-4) which specified what their role was.
1- Personnel 2- Intelligence 3- Operations & Training 4- Supply
General Staff officers would mainly be at HQ while Special Staff would be close to or on the front lines. The following gives an idea of the breakdown, those in bold show the mixture that our unit currently has.
Captain (S-1) Personnel Officer (Battalion)
2nd Lieutenant (S-2) - Intelligence Officer
Chief Warrant Officer - Warrant Officers are an ambiguous space between NCO and Officer. They are the top most technical specialists in their field. All Warrant Officers are always addressed as 'Mr'.
Junior Warrant Officer
Technical Sergeant (not to be confused with Technician 3rd Grade T/3)
Staff Sergeant (inc; Mess Sergeant)
Sergeant - Squad leader (primarily looks after the men under his immediate control)
Corporal - Section leader (usually in control of smaller sections of men, such as mortar teams, or assists a Sgt in a larger squad)
Technician 3rd Grade - T/3
Technician 4th Grade - T/4
Technician 5th Grade - T/5 Special qualification roles
(see under the video for trades of the ranks listed under)
Private First Class
Even Troopers were assigned a variety of different combat roles, such as bazooka-man, mortar-man, mortar crew, BAR gunner, BAR gunners assistant, light machine gunner, LMG crew, runner, marksman... they would also fall under the same remit as the offices and would be one of the four groups although the roles would be more like 1- admin, 2- scouts, 3- training and the bulk of the combat troops, 4- supply.
1 and 4 are mostly non-combat roles. Although all of these non-combat roles would have been fully trained soldiers first, then the secondary role after.
PATHFINDERS - Normady 1944 Drop Zone A
The Regimental Pathfinder Team was a small platoon-sized formation in U.S. Army Parachute Infantry Regiments for the purpose of marking drop zones (DZ) and landing zones (LZ) in preparation for airborne operations. This article outlines these teams as they existed on D-Day (5-6 June 1944).
Each Regimental Pathfinder Team consisted of 3 Battalion Teams—one per Parachute Infantry Battalion—and was responsible for the marking of the regimental DZ. This article is most likely reflective of the 82nd Airborne Division as their organization is more rigidly laid out in their After Action Report (AAR). The 101st Airborne had similar organization, but both naturally varied in practice.
All Regimental Pathfinder Teams were grouped into divisional Pathfinder Companies (Provisional) administratively, although the teams themselves would be spread out dependent on where their battalion and regimental drop zones were. Some Regimental Pathfinder Teams were not even meant to be dropped in the same drop zone, as the 101st Airborne Division mixed units in its drop zones.
Type: Airborne Pathfinder Mixed Unit
Origin: U.S. Army (United States)
Personnel: 6 Officers and 42-48 Enlisted
3× Battalion Pathfinder Teams (2 Officers, 14-16 Enlisted)
1× Team Leader*, Captain or Lieutenant
1× Assistant Team Leader*, Lieutenant or Warrant Officer
2× Eureka Operators, Enlisted or NCO, each equipped with a 1 Eureka Transponder each
1× Wireman, Enlisted or NCO
7× Lightmen, Enlisted or NCO, each equipped with 2 Halophane Lamps each
4-6× Security Personnel, Enlisted or NCO
14× Halophane Lamps
2× Eureka Transponders
* One of 3 Team Leaders would have also been the Regimental Pathfinder Team Leader.
Order of Battle (101st Airborne Division)
*Sticks are numbered based on the regiment the teams were a part of rather than the drop zones they were targetting.
Team A (DZ A for 502nd PIR and 377th PFAB)
→ 1/502 PIR (Stick 1/Plane #1)
Captain Frank I. Lillyman -Commander of 101st Pathfinder Company (Provisional)
First Lieutenant Robert S. Dixon
First Lieutenant Samuel McCarter
Second Lieutenant Reed Pelfrey
2 Technician 5th Grades, 3 Private First Classes, 11 Privates
→ 2/502 PIR (Stick 2/Plane #2)
Captain Henry G. Plitt
Second Lieutenant Napoleon T. Lavalle
1 Technician 5th Grades, 8 Private First Classes, 8 Privates
→ 377 PFAB (Stick 1/Plane #3)
During the night jump, 7 Lightment jumped with two Holophane lamps each, also called Aldis lamps. 7 of them are placed on the ground to form a T, the base of T indicating the direction of the jump, the crossbar, the jump departure.
They are lit when the hum of the engines of the lead aircraft is perceived. They are placed on telescopic tripods so as to be easily visible from an air-plane but almost invisible from the ground.
The last lamp is activated by an operator, it flashes the Morse letter of DZ, had to help leaders identify their areas of respective jump, indicated by lamps of different colours (green, red and amber) following the areas and units. Should anything fail to work, the light gun could be used as a back up to flash the morse letters DZ.
The video above does mention ranks in brief, but also goes on about military courtesy in general, some of which will be useful.
As well as the many combat roles, the American army of WW2 was similar to the modern equivalent to which a soldier can take up almost any profession. Some times these can be in addition to the combat role, others would keep you far behind the front lines. Underneath is a few examples and idea of what other roles can be portrayed; all of which are under the rank of Corporal.