This website is dedicated to the men of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion.
The 551st PIB was activated in November 1942 with 800 men and deactivated in January 1945 when just 110 surviving men were absorbed into the 82nd Airborne Division. Virtually nothing of the unit's proud history of bravery, liberation and sacrifice was recognized until the 1980's when veteran troopers and members of their families began recording the battalion's accomplishments.
In 2001 the feats of the 551st were finally recognized by Presidential Unit Citation, a long overdue acknowledgment of their bravery and sacrifice that only came about after many years of campaigning by veterans and their families.
Lt. Col. Wood Joerg, the popular commanding officer of the 551st, was killed during the unit's assault on Rochelinval on 7 Jan 1945. Some have attributed the GOYA nickname to him. As this story goes, GOYA stands for "Great Outstanding Young Americans". There are other translations of GOYA, but for the sake of posterity and modern sensibilities, I will leave them to the troopers themselves. They know what GOYA stands for. And as for what it means to them, that can't be explained or articulated by mere words.
This website is my tribute to them. They might not have been perfect garrison soldiers in the eyes of some American commanders, but they were and are, first class men. I spent my honeymoon in Southern France, seeing where they landed and the towns they liberated. I also visited some GOYAs who would remain forever young and never leave the land they liberated.
I have tried to make this site as easy to view as possible and include as much information as I can. It is an ongoing labor of love. If you see any mistakes or would like to share information and pictures, please email me. To leave a comment, please use my guestbook. Thank you for visiting!