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Joined: December 12th, 2007, 2:46 am

June 15th, 2018, 12:07 pm #11

jgawne wrote: I just saw this and have always wondered about this because of something I heard.  I have no idea what is being said on facebook, but this dates way back into the early 80's. 

There was a story I heard circulating in well known para fanatics back in the early 80's that Cornelius Ryan had gone to a 101st meeting in NYC while researching his book. At one point he asked if anyone had heard a story about a guy stuck on the church. Steele pops up and said "yeah, that was me" - and the legend was born. Now the way I was told made very clear that there was no evidence at all that it had been him, and that he was possibly just joking around, until it got picked up in Longest Day and became too big to back down from. 

So I would have to wonder if there is any evidence of it being him that predates 1959. 

I make no claims as to the veracity of this, just heard it from people that at the time new a lot more than I did about 101st stuff. But I know things happen in which stories or jokes take on a life of their own.  The recent incident of finding out that Morley Piper was not a Lt, was not in the 29th, and was not at D-day is an example of a small tale that grew and grew until he could not get out of it. 

Oddly enough I do remember a militaria show when someone brought in some of Steele's medal certificates which had been purchased at a local yard sale. No idea where they ended up, but I dare say they would raise a lot more interest today than back then. At the time is was "just" US stuff. Who cared about that? 
I attended many of the 505th reunions over the years; I don't recall ever hearing the story about Steele at any gatherings, although anything is possible. From my understanding, he was relatively low-key, died at an early age. Did Cornelius Ryan attend reunions? I don't believe he did. I seem to recall that most of the personalities in his book wrote to him from an advertisement he placed in the VFW magazine, they then received a questionnaire that was filled out and returned to Ryan.
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