American glider pilots, along with airborne
forces, spearheaded all the major invasions, landing behind enemy lines in their
unarmed gliders in Sicily, Normandy, Southern France, Holland, Bastogne,
Crossing, Luzon in the Philippines, and Burma.
One veteran American glider pilot painted a vivid picture of the stark
terror they experienced. "Imagine", he said, "flying a motorless,
fabric-covered CG-4A glider, violently bouncing and jerking on a
11/16 inch thick nylon rope
350 feet back of the C-47 tow plane. You see the nervous glider infantrymen behind you,
some vomiting, many in prayer, as you hedge-hop along at tree-top level instinctively
jumping up in your seat every time you hear bullets and flak tearing through the glider.
You try not to think about the explosives aboard. It's like flying a stick of dynamite
through the gates of Hell."
There were only about 6,000 American military glider pilots, all
volunteers. They proudly wore the silver wings with the letter "G" superimposed
on them. The brash, high-spirited pilots were not a bit bashful about letting everyone
know that the "G" stood for "Guts".
American glider pilots were scheduled for "Operation
Eclipse", the Allied airborne offensive planned to capture Berlin. But, the glory
went, through political default, to Russian ground forces. They were spared an invasion of
Japan when the atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima.
They suffered heavy casualties and their ranks have thinned through the
years until now only about 390 are banded together in The National World War II Gliders
Pilots Association with its headquarters at 4037 Ringdove Way, Roanoke, TX 76262,. They are a
vanishing breed. There will be no future generations of American military glider pilots.
The Defense Department ended the military glider pilot program in 1952.
World War II Glider Pilots; none had ever been before and probably none
will ever be again; a hybrid breed like jackasses with no need to reproduce themselves;
definitely one of a kind understood only by themselves and some completely beyond
understanding. A few more years and military glider pilots will be an extinct species
remembered by few. But they did exist and were involved in some mighty important and
exciting military actions in WWII.