Seal of WWII Glider Pilots Association


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45th ANNUAL REUNION:
Memphis Tennessee was held
October 1st - 3rd.

National WWII Glider Pilots Association 45th Reunio

Glider pilots Left to right: Claude "Chuck" Berry (91/439), John Whipple (83/437), George Theis (98/440), John McConnell (91/439), Donald Ehr (glider instructor, Lubbock & LM), John Vanetta (80/436), Otto Lyons (15/61).
Missing is Glider pilot William Fasking (83/437)

National WWII Glider Pilots Association 45th Reunion

Back Row from left to right: Earl Neal (Power Pilot 77/435), Howard Reik (Radio Operator 91/439), Roburta Trexler (Nurse), Jean Crawford (Power Pilot 100/441), John Lamm (Glider Mechanic 301/441)

The 45th National World War II Glider Pilot Reunion was another successful and joyful event. Throughout the reunion attendees posted photos and comments on Facebook.

Thursday

Executive Board meeting

National WWII Glider Pilots Association Executive Board

On Thursday October 1st the veteran’s had their Executive Board meeting with Chairman, Otto Lyons; Vice Chairman, Don Ehr; Treasurer, George Theis; Secretary, Charlie Day; Troop Carrier Representative, Sharon Unger; and International Director, Hans den Brok.

The highlight of the raffle was brought in and set up in the hospitality room. Elizabeth Susan Arnoult Pinter is the grand-daughter of A. Francis Arcier who is referred to as the father of the CG-4A glider. Susan has been designing and crafting a full sized bed quilt and giving it to the raffle for seven years. Each quilt has had a WWII Troop Carrier theme. Susan’s quilts are outstanding and everyone hopes to win it.

Thursday evening after dinner there were two presentations. Chuck Hobbs presented about his father, Capt. Henry Hobbs (439th TCG). Chuck centered on Market Garden and his research. Gary Stripling presented about his father-in-Law, Claude “Chuck” Berry who was at the podium with Gary. Gary covered Chuck’s experience in Operation Varsity (439th TCG) and how he obtained some of the information for his research.

Friday

Friday morning bright and early we went out to Olive Branch Airfield where Scott Glover and his marvelous crew were waiting for us with three planes from Scott’s Mid America Flight Museum. The C-47 Sky King (which is the most documented C-47 flying today), a T-6 Texan, and a T-28 Trojan. Anyone who wanted, got a ride in the C-47. Some of the veterans such as John Lamm and John McConnell took a ride in the T-6. The T-6 had a distictive loud engine roar when buzzing the airfield! It was great fun riding in the planes with Scott and his entire professional team. Before take-off in the C-47 Scott gives a very short talk about the planes WWII history and Scott’s organization’s has outstanding missions; in priority order,

  1. Honoring Veterans
  2. Mentoring Kids
  3. Providing Opportunity for Community Involvement
  4. Preserving Aviation History

Scott also provided a very nice lunch. With the exception of our buses there has never been any cost to the attendees for this wonderful day since Scott began coming with his planes in 2012. If you are so inclined, donations may be made to Mid America Flight Museum. Attn: Scott Glover, P. O. Box 287, Mt. Pleasant, TX 75456. All donations are tax deductible as the museum has a nonprofit IRS 501(c3) designation. So if you have experienced the thrill of flying in Scott’s Sky King or any other of his airplanes, please dig deep and make your donation soon.

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During WWII Major Earl Neal was assigned to the ETO 77th Troop Carrier Squadron / 435th Troop Carrier Group as a pilot. Flying the C-47 he was awarded the Air Medal and one Oak Leaf Cluster for aerial combat missions. At the 45th Glider Pilot Reunion Earl received a birthday gift from Scott Glover and his crew. Earl at the age of one hundred again flew the WWII C-47 airplane.

Friday after dinner Phillipe Esvelin gave a presentation about the opening of the extension of the Carentan Historical Center in Normandy, France. Philippe described this exhibit as a simulator using the Band of Brother’s C-47 fuselage. Visitors get an airborne paratrooper experience. Hans den Brok and I, each gave a short presentation on the events that occurred and the commemoration given to the City of Hammenkiln by the Association for the 70th Anniversary of Varsity. Patricia Overman also gave a presentation that tied in with the 70th Anniversary of Varsity but was a little different from the usual mission or operation presentations. It focused on the French chateaus where the pilots of the 435th Troop Carrier Group were billeted during their stay at Airfield A-48, Bretigny-sur-Orge.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the S. Tipton Randolph Award. Because the recipient was not available on Saturday night, when we usually give this award, we gave it on Friday night. The award went to Scott Glover for his service in the interest, promotion and education of the history of the WWII Glider Pilots Program. Congratulation Scott!

Satruday

General meeting

Our five international attendees were formally introduced:

  • Hans den Brok, Christian Dijkhuizen, Netherlands;
  • Philippe Esvelin (18th year attending) and Lepeltier Guillaume, France;
  • Neil Jones, England.

We are very appreciative of the effort you all made to attend our reunion and of the interest that you have for the WWII Glider history.

The next reunion location was discussed. Scott had announced on Friday night that he was offering to host the next reunion at his museum in Mt. Pleasant, TX. There was a discussion on transportation and the nice hotels five miles from Mt. Pleasant (Hampton, LaQuinta and a few others). A vote was taken and it was decided that we would take up Scott’s offer.

At the Saturday banquet everyone looked great! After a nice dinner, Barbara Woods and Patricia Overman, on behalf of the City of Ris Orangis, presented a medal to the Association commemorating the glider pilots role in the liberation of Europe.

Don Abbe, Curator of the Silent Wings Museum, donated half a dozen T-shirts. These shirts had printed on them one of Dale Oliver's famous Glider sketches that he had drawn during the war. These shirts are the only ones in existence. Dale was with the 73rd TCS/434th TCG and flew a glider in three campaigns; Normandy, Holland and Germany (Dale was on Detached Service to the 76th TCS/435th TCG for Operation Varsity and was a member of the Provisional 435th Glider Pilot Infantry Company who was involved with the “Battle of Burp Gun Corner”). After WWII Dale went to work as a cartoonist for Disney Studios. Among the animated movies that he worked on the most popular was “Lady and the Tramp”. Those who won the shirts were very lucky! Thanks Silent Wings Museum!

The raffle ended with Gary and Shirley Best winning the fabulous quilt. He and his wife donated the quilt to the Silent Wings Museum.

We ended the reunion with our veteran photos. As you can see it was a small group.

I would personally like to thank those who helped me with this reunion, the presenters and all of you who attended and made this a successful reunion. See you in Dallas in 2016. All updates on the 46th reunion will be posted on the website, Facebook and Twitter.

Reunion Charman, George Theis