On November 24, 1942 America's War Department authorized the creation of a third airborne division to be numbered the 11th under forty-seven-year-old then-Brigadier General Joseph May Swing. Hailing from Jersey City, the Hollywood-looking Swing graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1915, “the class the stars fell on”, alongside his roommate and football teammate Dwight Eisenhower (Omar Bradley also played with them under head coach Charles Dudley Daly).
Swing served as a 2nd Lieutenant under Gen. “Black Jack” Pershing in Mexico during the “Punitive Expedition” against Pancho Villa in the 4th Field Artillery. When America entered World War I, he served in France with the 8th Field Artillery under Gen. Payton C. March before returning stateside to graduate with honors from Fort Hood’s field artillery school in 1926. Swing taught at Hood until 1931 when he entered Washington’s Army War College until 1935 then bounced between units from 1935-1942 before he was assigned command of the 82nd Infantry Division’s (later Airborne) artillery where he helped his old teammate Brig. Gen. Omar Bradley organize the division’s units. Then, given his penchant for daring leadership, Swing was given command of the new 11th Airborne at Camp Mackall in November of 1942 and promoted to Major General.
The boys of the 511th PIR enjoyed Camp Mackall's superior facilities when not out on several-day bivouacs or long marches. Out of 12,000 volunteers, only 2,176 remained, having passed (i.e. survived) Colonel Orin Haugen's strict acceptance guidelines. At Mackall the soldiers practiced field problems and got to know the other units in their mother organization, the 11th Airborne Division under Major-General Joseph May Swing.