Final Flight-- December 1st, 2015.
b.1920 - d.2015
Obituary: Oscar Theran Rains (affectionately referred to as ““Joe”) passed away peacefully on December 1, 2015 at age 95.
Joe was born in Alabama on May 15, 1920. He was the fifth child of Oscar and Lula Rains.
Joe enlisted in the Army at age 21, became a glider pilot, and flew 4 missions in World War II, including landing his glider in Normandy on D-Day, where he earned a Purple Heart. He returned home after the War and was in the reserves, but his services were needed again and he flew transport for American troops in the Korean War. He later worked at Kirtland Air Force Base until he retired in 1976.
Joe was an avid golfer and after retirement from the Air Force Base, worked for many years at the University of New Mexico North Course, where he had many friends.
Joe is survived by his loving wife of 70 years, Mary; twin daughters, Deane Woodard and husband Steven Woodard, and Jeane Haverick and husband David Haverick; granddaughters Heather Matanock, Melissa Woodard, Amanda Haverick, and Rebecca Torres and husband David Torres; and Great–grandchildren William and Garrett Torres. He was recently preceded in death by his beloved Sussex Spaniel dog, Sam.
In lieu of flowers, Joe’s family requests charitable contributions be made to The National World War II Glider Pilots Association, Inc., 4037 Ringdove Way, Roanoke, TX 76262.
For years Oscar Rains was an active member and dedicated Deputy Wing Commander for Wing 1, Western U.S., in the National WWII Glider Pilots Association.
1943: Oscar “Joe” T. Rains graduated from advanced glider school at Air Field Dalhart, class of 43–2
on Jan. 25, 1943 with the rank of Flight Officer. He was assigned to the 71st Troop Carrier Squadron, 434th Troop Carrier Group stationed at
Air Field Aldermaston, England. He was involved in four major operations of the war in the European Theater:
Normandy – Chicago Mission. On June 6th 1944, 1st Lt. William Snyder and F/O Oscar Rains piloted a CG–4A glider, Chalk no 13, in the first Serial of the 52 Wing. They made a 4:00 AM landing. Their Landing Zone was E on the Cotentin Peninsula, Northwest of St Mère–Église. Their load was a component of the 101st Airborne.
Southern France – The 434th Troop Carrier Group was not slated for the Southern France operation. However, General Beach sent men in support of this operation. It seems, based on our database that Joe was involved in this support. As mentioned in the 434th Group history:
“This was occasioned by the return, from Italy, of Colonel Beach and the staff members who had accompanied him there for the airborne attack on Southern France. This invasion took place on August 15th with Troop carrier Groups from 50th, 51st and 53rd Wings participation. Small enemy opposition was encountered, only one plane receiving a thirty caliber bullet hole. There was some confusion in landing and several gliders casualties resulted from hitting poles in vineyards but as a whole the operation was most successful.”
Holland – F/O Rains flew on September 18th Market Garden, Serial A–47, Again his load was the 101st Airborne, either a component of the 327th GIR or 401st GIR, and his destination was LZ–W.
Varsity – On February 20th the 434th moved to the continent at Air Field A–80;
Mourmelon–le–Grand, France, just 30 km southeast of Reims.
For the Varsity operation the 434th was only committed to paratrooper drops to Germany, LZ-W and LZ-X. The glider pilots were sent to the
other groups who were making glider landings. According to the Interrogation report
(which is given by the glider pilots to the intelligence officer upon returning to their air field) F/O Rains was sent on detached service
to the 436th TCG, 79th TCS. The 436th was located near Melun at Vilaroche, advanced landing ground A–55, 180 km southwest of A–80.
Lt. Richard S. Batlan and F/O Rains
piloted Chalk 132 and their load was a component of the 17th Airborne.
The 17th Airborne loaded and secured a jeep into glider 132 on the morning of March 24th. Joe had already delivered gliders under combat
to Landng Zones in Normandy and Holland with the chances of being killed by the Wehrmacht. However, it was not the Germans army
but a jeep that threatened the lives of the men in glider 132.
At approximately 0910 the formation was already on course, we hit some rough air causing the chocks underneath the jeep springs to jar loose. We continued on, calling to the airborne in the jeep to attempt to tie the load more securely,
but they were unable to leave their seats as the jeep was starting to bounce severely so that their helmets were hitting the main bulkhead.
When some more rough air was encountered the load started to shift forward against the pilots and co-pilots seats causing the nose latch
catches to springs. As we had an hour and forty minutes more to the LZ. I thought it best to cast loose—before doing so I asked the
opinion of my co–pilot and airborne crew, they agreed. So picking a field in the area we released, approaching a plowed field on our
left—180 degree approach—as we touched down the load came forward, split the pilots seat but no further damage was done to the
glider. The field is located outside the town of Dampleaux (Villers Cotterets area) about 45 miles northeast of Melun. We left one Airborne
Sergeant in charge of the glider and returned as best we could to this base. [signed:] Richard S. Batlon
Joe will be missed by the members of the Association but his loss will be felt most deeply by his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
In November we gave thanks to our current (living) Association WWII veteran Members
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November 11 Veterans Day Presentation at Harbour Pointe Retirement Community—Mukiteo Washington
On Veterans Day, Don Ehr and Bob Swenson were a hit at the Harbor Pointe Retirement Community in Mukilteo Washington
Patricia Overman, the creator of the power point, introduced Don and Bob. Don talked about the glider pilot training program, primary, basic and advanced, the tactical training and the preparations for overseas. Patricia gave a little background on operation VARSTIY and how the 435th Provisional Glider Pilot Company came to be, then turned it over to Bob for his firsthand account from take–off, landing in the Landing Zone, clearing houses, capturing prisoners, the Battle of Burp Gun Corner, evacuation and return to the airbase.
The presentation lasted just shy of one hour. The theater we were in is small but holds comfortably 20 to 25 people.
We had 30 people crammed in the room and 20 more wanting to get in, so Bob and Don agreed to do the presentation twice!
This was a presentation given to their peers. Many in the audience were WWII veterans and several had been pilots, so the presentation really hit home.
Don and Bob did a great job and those coming out of the first presentation told those waiting to get in that it was well worth it.
Don graduated from Advanced Glider Training on July 20th 1943 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt.
He was assigned as a glider pilot instructor at South Plains Army Air Field until February 1945 when he was transferred to Laurinburg–Maxton
Army Airfield in North Carolina, to receive tactical training for preparation for combat duty overseas. Don was promoted to 1st Lt. in April 1945.
By the end of the War Don had 840 plus flight hours with many of those hours logged in a C–47. He has also been the pilot of a glider snatch by a
C–47. Don retired from the Air Force Reserves.
Flight Officer Robert Swenson graduated from glider training at South Plains Army Airfield in Lubbock, Texas in July of 1944 and was then transferred to Laurinburg–Maxton Army Airfield in North Carolina, where he received tactical training for preparation for combat duty overseas. He was assigned to the 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 434th Troop Carrier Group in November. In early March Bob was transferred to the 435thTCG for Operation Varsity where he was in volved in the Battle of Burp Gun Corner. During April through the end of May he flew as an auxiliary Navigator in the resupplies missions on C–47s. Bob retired from the Air Force Reserves
Arthur Randall Collins
Final Flight-- October 18, 2015.
b.1920 - d.2015 Obituary
Arthur Collins (72/434) Collin’s Family Collection
Final Flight: Arthur Collins graduated from Advanced Glider Training at Lubbock Tx. South Plains Army Air Field, on 15 March 1943, class 43-5
He was sent to the European Theater of Operations, assigned to the 72nd TCS, 434th TCG. The 434th was stationed in England at Airfield Aldermaston.
Arthur piloted a glider in three major combat missions:
Arthur Collins (72/434) and Charles H. Inglish (72/434) SWM/Inglish Collection
Louis P. Hodge (71/434), Charles H. Inglish (72/434) and Arthur Collins (72/434) SWM/Inglish Collection
On 6 June 1944, F/O Collins was piloting Glider chalk #3 in Mission Keokuk, Dropzone E, Serial 29. Their load was elements of the 101st Airborne.
His co-pilot was F/O Richard S. Myers who was killed by a sniper during this mission. Their entire Serial took in 157 men from Signal, Medical and staff personnel as well as
40 vehicles, 6 guns, and 19 tons of equipment and supplies.
Market- On Sept. 17th Arthur flew his glider, serial A-4 into LZ A1. His glider was carrying components of the 101st Airborne Division, 501 PIR plus Co A 326th Eng. They lost four glider pilots on this mission.
Then came the invasion of Germany:
Operation Varsity 24 March 1945. F/O Collins and many of his fellow pilots were sent on detached service to the 435th TCG and assigned to 77th TCS. F/O Collins piloted Glider #327, Chalk #72 Serial A-12, 77th Not only did they fly a glider into LZ-S they had been transferred to a Group whose Glider Group Commander had volunteered his Group (Sqd. 75, 76, 77, 78) to take up a defensive position on the line between batteries A and B of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne. Once F/O Collins delivered his glider load he then join his fellow glider pilots to form the Provisional 435th Glider Pilot Company. He became a member of the men who fought the Germans at the famous “Battle of Burp Gun Corner”
In his reported to the Intelligent Officer: While in the air they observed heavy and accurate flak, machine gun, and small arms fire scattered in the landing zone. On releasing glider at 1500 feet he made a 90 degree turn towards a landing area in LZ-S which was difficult to see due to smoke. They continued receiving Morter and gun fire (20mm; 40mm, and 88mm) while landing. At some point the glider received a hole in the bottom. Obstacles in the LZ included a fence, an entrenchment, power line and other gliders. Glider load was elements of the 681st Glider Infantry Battallion, 17th Airborne Division. Airborne did an excellent job.
Narrative: “Landed under fire; had some difficulty finding assembly point. Dug in defensive point in evening; had a counter attact by enemy at 2315; enemy driven back with heavy casualties. Evacuation started next evening.”
Arthur will be missed by the members of the Association but his loss will be felt most deeply by his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
Arthur Collins (72/434) and Charles H. Inglish (72/434) SWM/Inglish Collection
Kenneth G. Turner
Final Flight-- September 19, 2015.
b.1923 - d.2015
Kenneth G. Turner (87/438) Tim Turner Collection
Ken on a bicycle in Reading. Reading is 18 miles east of Greenham Common by the A-4 road. Turner Collection
“First time flying was in a Fairchild PT 19A powered by a 175 Ranger engine. Soloed April 5, 1945after 6-7 hours of dual training. Primary completed May 24, 1943, 65 hours flying time.” Turner Collection
Final Flight: After graduating from High school Kenneth Turner began contributing to the war effort. He went to an aircraft sheet metal school in Fairbury, Nebraska and went to work in the Glenn L. Marin Aircraft Co. plant in Baltimore. After Pearl Harbor, when the US entered the war, Ken enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He completed primary flight school on May 24th 1943.
Kenneth completed Basic training and went to Eagle Pass, Texas for advanced training and graduated as a 2nd Lt. on October 1, 1943. Ken was assigned as a flying instructor until June of 44. In early October 1944 power pilots were gathered up for Glider Training the next major mission in the ETO. Authorized by Personnel Order #30 from Headquarters Army Air Force Central, the Flying Training Command at Randolph Field Texas, on 20 October 1944, added the rating of Glider Pilot to Ken’s record having completed advanced glider training.
On November 1st he boarded the Il de France for Stone England. Once there he was assigned to the 87th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group stationed at Greenham Common near the town of Newbury.
From Greenham Common he flew as a C–47 pilot many resupply missions and the combat missions of Bastogne (December resupply of the 101st), and the Redball Express (February 13th – 16th resupply to Patton’s 3rd Army). On February 26th the 438th left Greenham Common and transferred to the continent, and relocated at Prosenes, France, 23 kl or 14 miles from Riems. On March 21st just three days before the Varsity operation Ken was transferred to the 80th Squadron of the 436th Troop Carrier Group located at Melun/Villaroche, A–55, to fly as a co–pilot in the CG–4A glider. His glider had Chalk number 112, in Serial A–11. His pilot was Bert Humphrey and their load was the Anti tank Company of the 17th Airborne. Their destination was Landing Zone–S near Wesel Germany. Both men in Chalk 112 survived. They were evacuated from the area late on the 25th returning to A–55 on March 26th where Ken gave an intelligence report.
After the Varsity operation Ken was transferred back the 438th 87th Squadron. On May 28th the 438th was given 24 hours to move from Prosnes to Amiens which they did. All Tents and Equipment were moved to stationed at B-48 Amiens Glisy Airfield.
On July 24th, now 1st Lt., Kenneth Turner was listed on the Ground Echelon roster dated 24 July, 1945, with 55 points; he was going back to the United States to go to war in Japan.
Kenneth's Crew on a resupply after the war ended found a disassembled German primary glider in a shed. “Of course it was loaded on our C-47 and flown back to Amiens. Some of the glider pilots, put it back together, got a tow rope, tied it to a L-4 and made a few flights around our field, until some General put a stop to their flying.” Turner Collection
Ken will be missed by the members of the Association but his loss will be felt most deeply by his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
Final Flight: Capt Lewis H. Buzzell, Jr. (Ret. USAF) joined the Army Air Corps in February 1941 when the glider pilot program was just getting off the ground. On Graduated from the South Plains Army Airfield, Advanced Glider Training School
on 12/23/1942, class 42-U2, Lubbock, TX. He was assigned to the 46th Squadron, 317th Troop Carrier Group.
October, 1944, he was sent to New Guinea to prepare for the
invasion of Japan as a GC-4A glider pilot.
Lewis made the USAF a career and retired as a Captain. He was a long time member of our Glider Pilots Association. Lewis will be missed by the members of the Association but his loss will be felt most deeply by his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
Claude "Chuck" A. Berry and James flew a glider into the Varsity Operation the invasion of Germany 24 March 1945. This was the largest air lift in history and both Chuck and James were on double tow [ one C-47 towing two gliders ].
After returning to Chateaudun France from Varsity (Wesel Germany), Chuck and James Aase were sent on a flight to Paris to be interviewed and recorded on a 78 record. Aase was his foxhole mate about 100 yards from Burp-Gun Corner. Chuck said the interview only lasted 5-10 mins but they were both recorded on the record and describe what happened and what they heard while in combat.
Once the record was made, it was cleared for publication (on the label). It was then mailed to the nearest radio station to where the interviewee lived (San Antonio) in Chuck’s case and it was played for the hometown folks to hear the voices of their boys. After it had served its purpose for local news, it was given to the guys on the record and Chuck has had it ever since.
The recording is a little scratchy but understandable from a 78 record.
Chuck and others who flew the Varsity Operation will be at the glider pilots reunion this October for information visit ww2gp.org/reunion.php
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Berry, Gary Stripling
and The National WWII Glider Pilots Association, Inc.
Video Compiled by Patricia Overman
Pete Joseph Lecce
Final Flight-- July 24, 2015.
b.1926 - d.2015 Obituary
Final Flight: Peter Joseph Lecce, 93, of Collinsville, Ill., born Aug. 23, 1921.
Pete, National Wing Commander of the National World War II Glider Pilots Association, passed away Friday, July 24, 2015. Pete was an outgoing individual and a great asset to the Association. In 2013 he did not hesitate to fly in a P-51 when Cowden Ward brought his plane to the reunion in San Antonio.
Pete, T-128225, graduated with the rank of Flight Officer from advanced glider school, Class 44-7, on June 15, 1944 in Lubbock Texas.
He was sent to the European Theater of Operations in September of 1944 and assigned to the 315th Troop Carrier Group, 310th Squadron stationed at Spank, England.
In the winter of 1945 Pete flew gliders and co-piloted C-47s to help ferry gliders in the unit?s move to Orleans, France. In the spring of 1945 Pete was sent to Amiens France and then sent back to the United States as the U.S. was preparing to transfer pilots to the Pacific Theater of Operations.
Pete will be missed by the members of the Association but his loss will be felt most deeply by his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
Final Flight-- June 29, 2015.
b.1921 - d.2015 Obituary
Floyd Piper was a civilian instructor at the “dead stick” school in Spencer, IA and a long time affiliate member of the Association.
Taken from his obituary: "Floyd always enjoyed flying. Taking his first flight when he was 10 years old, he was a licensed pilot for 60 years logging over 6,000 hours. He began instructing prior to WWII and was a flight instructor for over 30 years. In 1941 he became an instructor for the Army Air Corp Glider School and the Primary Flying School. He was a Military Pilot flying the C-54 and other aircraft in the Pacific Theater. He flew many trips to Iwo Jima, landing on metal strips on the beach to evacuate wounded back to the hospital in Guam. Many trips were made to Japan to take in supplies and personnel before the peace was signed."
Dick was a member of our National World War II Glider Pilot Association. He will be missed by all but especially his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
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Richard J. Beck
Final Flight-- June 22, 2015.
b.1922 - d.2015 Obituary
Richard entered the U.S. Army on August 30, 1943. He went into the Army Air Corps
training program and graduated from advanced flying school in the late summer of 1944. Richard left the U.S. on October 28th at the age of 22 and arrived in
England on November 10th at the replacement depot station. Here he was assigned to his squadron and a few days later arrived at Station 290 Langar Air Field.
This was the home of the 301st Troop Carrier Squadron, 441st troop Carrier Group, under the 50th Troop Carrier Wing, under the 9th Air Force and was now Richard’s
new squadron with the assigned MOS of 5021, twin engine pilot.
Their C-47 missions involved resupplying the front lines with equipment, rations, medical supplies, mail and sometimes returning with wounded soldiers.
While not flying to the front lines they were training, and flying equipment around England.
In January 1945 the 9th Air Force mandated that any replacement coming into the ETO after November 1st would be available to co-pilot a CG-4A glider for the next invasion into Germany. Richard had not received glider training before leaving the U.S. and the 53rd Wing was making glider training for those pilots mandatory. Just weeks before the invasion of Germany, in late February, after the 441st Group transferred to the continent at the air field Dreux/Vermouillet Richard was able to make his check rides in a CG-4A glider.
March 24th 1945 was D-Day for the invasion of Germany, code named Varsity. Pilot Lt. Kenneth Tudor and co-plot Lt. Richard Beck were assigned glider #2 (tail number 45-6489) Serial A-18 and were flying in elements of Battery A of the 155th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion. Their load was a 75 mm Howitzer gun and a few, no more than seven, infantry men of Battery A. Their destination was Landing Zone N north of Wesel, Germany. They landed late morning and were greeted by flack and small arms fire.
After the LZ was under control they unloaded and organized into a defensive perimeter behind the 17th Airborne’s position.
During the night they encounter German gun fire and fired upon a group that did not answer appropriately to the call signs.
“On the approach received small arms fire. Made 360 degree and stacked right behind Major Morris in NE corner of field No. 4. Glider not damaged on landing but another glider later landed between us [and] tore up wing. Helped 57mm gun out and then stated for G.P assembly point. Too shelter in embankment. Helped repulse an enemy counter-attack during the night. Enemy suffered heavily in men captured and killed. One German approached my foxhole with knife and I shot him in the chest and leg. All prisoners that were taken during the night were marched to the stockade the following morning. Second Lieutenant Baker and I stood guard around the perimeter track. During the night I heard MG fire which went over my head. When we were relieved from guard duty someone yelled out that Baker had been shot through the head. He was dead. He was only about ten feet from me. No doubt he was killed instantly. Next day we were evacuated to field B-86 and then home.”
Richard’s squad captured 38 Germans and took them to the PoW Cage. The next morning they moved the prisoners to an area near the Rhine River and handed them over to the MPs. Lt. Beck and his squad were evacuated around 0900 hours on March 25th where they then went to the Helmond Airfield to catch a flight back to Druex air field. They arrived back on March 26th.
For the remainder of the war Lt. Beck flew C-47s resupplying the fast moving allies and picking up forced labors being discovered throughout Germany.
Richard Beck was a member of the Association.
A final salute from the veterans, your band of brothers.
Major Richard “Dick” Mudrow
Final Flight-- April 18, 2015.
b.1921 - d.2015 Obituary
Dick was born on June 12, 1921, in Beatrice NE. He married on September 4, 1943, while stationed at Knobnoster MO, where he was stationed. Soon after that, his unit made the trip to Europe. Dick was a twin engine pilot with the 100th Troop Carrier Squadron, one of the four Squadrons of the 441st Troop Carrier Group. With that outfit he participated in all major airborne operations in Europe.
NORMANDY - On D-day, June 6, 1944, he piloted C-47# 42-92918, chalk number 43 on Mission Albany, Serial 14, to DZ-D. In his aircraft were 17 paratroopers of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. On June 7th he flew in the Hackensack glider mission (Serial 37) piloting C-47 # 42-101024, chalk number 23. He towed a glider with 82nd Airborne to LZ-W.
SOUTHERN FRANCE - In August 1944, His unit moved to Italy for the invasion of Southern France. They were stationed Grosetto airbase. From there he flew two missions to Southern France, flying C-47 # 43-15086 on both flights. The first mission was Mission Albatros in which his plane had chalk number 70 in the serial. Paratroopers were dropped on DZ-C.
The second flight was Mission Dove where the plane had chalk number 28, towing a glider to France.
HOLLAND - In September 1944 the unit was back in England, at Langar AFB. From there they participated in the airborne invasion of Holland, Operation Market Garden. Unfortunately paperwork does not reveal much details. In general, the 441st Troop Carrier Group dropped paratroopers of the 508th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division at DZ-T, just north of Groesbeek. This was on 17 September 1944. The following day, gliders were towed to LZ-N, on the south side of Groesbeek village. The gliders carried elements of 456th Parachute Field Artillery Bn. Bad weather delayed the last lift, which eventually was flown on 23 September. This time, LZ-O, north of Grave, was the objective. Again, flown in were elements of the 82nd Airborne Division.
GERMANY - During the German offensive in the Ardennes, the 100th TCS flew supplies and personnel from England to the main land. The last major airborne operation was Varsity, the jump across the Rhine River at Wesel. This was 24 March 1945. By then Major Mudrow, being Operations Officer of the Squadron, flew C-47 43-15086 again, towing a glider to LZ-N. The combination had chalk number 25 in the formation.
Dick was a member of our National World War II Glider Pilot Association. He will be missed by all but especially his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
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Lt. Clifford Underwood
Final Flight-- April 7, 2015.
b.1926 - d.2015 Obituary
At 0500 hours on March 24, 1945, 2nd Lt Clifford Underwood was aroused from a restless sleep. He made his way to the mess tent and
was surprised to find waiting for him a steak and egg breakfast. At 0800 hours, Clifford, along with pilot 2nd Lt. James D. Hammett,
climbed into the cockpit of their CG-4A glider. The glider was loaded with Troopers from Company M, 3rd Battalion of the 194 Glider Infantry Regiment.
At 0815 hours they lifted off the runway of Advance Landing Ground A-55 at Melun/Villaroache, France, and joined the other seventy two gliders and thirty
six C-47 tugs of the 436th Troop Carrier Group heading to Landing Zone S, northwest of Wesel Germany.
Though the skies were clear in the early morning, promising a sunny day, it would not be a walk in the park. 10,000 German
infantry were waiting for them in LZ-S. For the first time in the war the landing zones would not be secured on their arrival. German 88mm Anti-Aircraft
guns were waiting to be lowered on the gliders as they landed.
This was the first time in the European Theater of Operation (ETO) that double-tow would be used in combat making the two and a half hour flight difficult with all the prop-wash
caused by the 36 C-47s flying in formation in their serial. In the Interrogation Check Sheet written upon return of the pilots, Lt Hammett commented, “Lt.
Underwood flew very good on tow.”
After cutting loose over LZ-S Clifford’s glider received light and heavy flak causing a 10” hole in the right side of the glider as they were landing.
ortunately none of the “glider riders”, were hit. They then received rifle and 20mm small arms fire after landing but they
“landed without damage to glider or crew.” Due to heavy enemy activity they were ordered to stay with the airborne and dig in for the night.
They remained with the airborne until relieved the next day.
Clifford had to have reservations upon getting into that glider. For one, Clifford was a C-47 pilot, not a glider pilot. In October of 1944, just
prior to being transferred to the European Theater of Operations, Clifford was among hundreds of power pilots (pilots who flew planes with engines) who were sent to
either Lubbock, TX or Laurinburg Maxton, NC., to make 10 landings in a CG-4A glider including one night landing and one check ride. Eleven landings and they were trained
glider pilots. They were given some more infantry training to augment what they had received in basic. It had been mandated by the 9th Troop Carrier Command that all power pilots
assigned to the ETO after November 1st would fly as copilots in CG-4A gliders. Clifford arrived in the ETO, on November 16th and was assigned to the 436th Troop Carrier Group, 79th
TCS station at #466, Membury Airfield, England.
Clifford’s training would be put to the test in Operation Varsity, the airborne component of the invasion of the German homeland. Clifford did his duty; he delivered his load to the landing
zone and fought alongside the airborne infantry until the area was secure.
The Varsity Operation may have been Clifford’s most valiant action during WWII but his most commendable work was with the “Flying Pipeline.” Immediately after the Varsity Operation
the pilots of the C-47s transitioned from flying two to three missions a week to flying two to three missions a day. For a four week period, from March 25 through April 20th, Clifford
was flying resupply missions in hostile Germany and bringing out the wounded. It was during this time that Clifford really found out about the atrocities of the war as the forced labor
camps were discovered. Although hardly mentioned in the history books these young pilots were evacuating the forced laborers from the many concentration camps. Some forced laborers
did not make it home and died in the plane on the return to their country. Most pilots will not talk about what they saw and those who have, even today, speak with difficulty in describing such a thing.
Clifford was 19 years old.
Clifford was a longtime supporter of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association and attended many reunions. He will be missed by all
but especially his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
Simon Peter Vistuba
Final Flight-- March 10, 2015.
b.1915 - d.2015
Simon Vistuba was with the 78th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 435th Troop Carrier Group. He arrived in England in the Spring of 1944 and was stationed at
Welford Park until late February when his Group moved to the continent and was then stationed at Bretigny-sur-Orge France.
While in England Simon flew his first combat mission in the most significant operation of WWII, the Normandy invasion.
mission was code named “Elmira” “Elmira” was a glider mission for the landing of airborne troops of the 82nd Airborne
Division in the southeastern part of the Cotentin Peninsula at a point known as GLZ ‘W’ located two miles southeast of Ste Marie Eglise (358930).
Simon’s glider was in the second echelon, second serial of the air armada. He flew the large British Horsa Glider. Once on the ground he had to make it
back to a point for pickup back to Welford Park. Out of glider pilots nine of the pilots were killed during this operation. Simon received the Air
Medal which is equal the to the Army's Bronze Star. He had‘G’uts.
Simon’s second combat mission, again while still stationed in England, was the Holland mission, “A Bridge too Far ”. On September 17th Simon
was in serial A-18 with 28 Aircrafts. His consisted of elements of the 1/502 Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) and the HQ/ 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division. He flew his glider
in formation to Landing Zone C. They made his way back to a pickup point on foot.
Obituary: Mr. Simon Peter Vistuba, who reached the milestone age of 100 in November, passed away on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Mr. Vistuba served proudly in the U.S.
Army Air Corp during WWII and retired from the U.S. Postal Service. He was dedicated not only to his family, but to his church. As a long time member of Holy Rosary Catholic Church,
he was a Eucharistic Minister, Altar Server and helped to tender the gardens. Mr. Vistuba was preceded in death by his wife, Rose Ann Vistuba. He is survived by his children: James
Vistuba, Elaine Jones and her husband Marvin, and Rita Purkhiser; grandchildren: Rachelle, Ryan, Chase and Bryan
It was never the pilot’s C-47 but
rather on loan to the pilot by the Crew Chief, provided they brought it back in one piece.
March 8th, Message from the family:
Dear Treasurer Theis and the members of the WWII Glider Pilots Association:
Husband, father of four, grandfather of ten, former C-47 Crew Chief and affiliate member of the WWIIGPA, William S. Fisch, 93 years of age has passed away.
He was thankful for his last full day, when he walked, spoke to loved ones and thanked all of the nurses who had "put up with him." He slipped away in the
early morning of February 19, 2015.
Mr. Fisch was born in Hartington, Nebraska on June 28, 1921, grew up in Lemars, Iowa and participated in the CMTC*, capturing gold and silver swimming medals.
Then living in Dayton, Ohio, he enlisted to become an airman in 1942.
The Tech Sergeant/Crew Chief never talked about his service experiences, except for the occasional sentence or two his sons could induce with persistence.
Fortunately, the four children were able to understand the mighty influence of the WWII experience through our mom. She is from Slovenia and carried a Yugoslavian
Diplomatic passport, age 17 when the Normandy invasion took place. In exile with her parents and 5 younger siblings, they lived, or more correctly, were stranded
in Dreux, FR in the middle of WWII.
Our parents met at a dinner party after the 100th Squadron was temporarily located near Dreux, post D-Day. After both surviving the war, a series of letter
correspondence kept them together until our mom could come to the USA in 1947, and they would be married.
Although our beloved mom, Lucie was coming to the USA from Paris, France, she did not have a French passport. The inordinate and near-swooning attention of the
FBI & Customs agents at Ellis Island was more due to her striking beauty and multiple language fluency than her passport being from "behind the iron curtain".
Because of our heritage, the Fisch family has always held a special spiritual place for all of the Airborne Troop Transport Groups-- the Glider and Power Pilots,
dedicated Ground And Air crew, Administration and their most sacred "Cargo", predominantly for Mr. Fisch the Screaming Eagles, 101st Airborne. His public record
is in the
National WWII Memorial.
Members of Mr. Fisch's family attended the Glider Pilot's reunion in Kansas City in 2013 and are enriched due to that fabulous gathering (photos attached). A modest
donation has been made to the Silent Wings Museum on behalf of Mr. Fisch, our dear departed father and husband.
With Kindest Wishes to All,
Fred Fisch, for the Fisch family
* Civilian Military Training Corps
* * *
Lt. Edward W. Snyder
Final Flight-- February 17, 2015.
b.1917 - d.2015
Edward W. Snyder graduated from Advanced Glider Training on January 7, 1943 at Dalhart, TX as a second lieutenant. He was sent to the European Theater of Operation (ETO) and was
assigned to the 44th Squadron of the 316th Troop Carrier Group.
Edward Flew a glider in two combat missions:
His first combat mission was the invasion of Southern France on August 14th 1944, code named Dragoon. Then on September 23rd,
1944, he flew a glider on the Holland mission, code named Market, glider Chalk #9A on Serial A-90.
The target was LZ-O, north of Grave.
Edward's glider had a load of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. Their serial had one casualty.
For these combat missions Edward Received an Air Medal and first Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (2nd Air Medal) and the Orange Lanyard.
Edward stayed in the military and retired as a Lt. Col.
Edward was a loyal member of the Association. He will be missed
but especially by his fellow veterans, his band of brothers.
The TC/TAA has invited our National WWII Glider Pilots Association members to become members of their Association.
All WWII veterans who become TC/TAA member are honorary members at no cost. All other members
who are currently active or retired military may join at a cost starting at $25.
Their Association is primarily the post WWII era where the old TC organizations were transformed into the Tactical Airlift
of today. There is an interest to establish a link into the WWII troop carrier heritage. We can help them do this and they
will help us by Joining our Association.
Photos taken at the Memorial Day Ceremony held at the Margraten U.S.
Military Cemetery. Lt. Gen William H. Simpson, CG, 9th U.S. Army addressed the Netherland
Civilians and the American soldiers and then placed a wreath on the grave of the unknown
soldier. Later other general officers of his command also placed wreaths.
Invocations were read by Chaplain Fegktgn (Catholic). Chaplain Shubow, (Jewish),
and Chaplain Brady (Protestant). Holland 30 June 1945
Dutch civilians place wreiths honoring American dead at Margaraten
Millitary Cemetery, Maastrich, Holland 30 June 1945
Shown is the Margraten Cemetery, Margraten, Holland, largest U.S. cemetery for World War
II dead in Europe. there are 17,900 American war dead buried here. The memorial Day Ceremonies
were attended by Her Majesty, Queen Wilhelmina, of the Netherlands; Maj. Gen. Edwin P. Parker,
Inspector General, Eucom; His Excellency Doctor Fievez, Minister of War for the Netherlands Government;
The Honorable Doctor Herman D. Baruch, United States Ambassador to the Netherlands; and other dignitaries,
and over 60,000 Netherlands citizens. 30 May Credit - U..S. Army Signal Corps
Photog - Lt. Lance & T/3 Hunt
Letter of Appreciation
The National World War II Glider Pilots Associaton of the United States of America presents this letter
of appreciation to you, the adopter, for your dedication and your meticulous care of the grave of our
fallen commrade who gave his life for the freedom enjoyed today by our two countires. Thank you.
Signed by: Otto Lyons, National Chairman, Exectutive Council, Glider Pilot 15th TCS, 61st TCG and Donald G. Ehr,
Vice Chairman, Executive Council, Glider Pilot Instructor
On January 29th Joseph Bisscheroux emailed the following information to the Association.
Dear Mrs. Overman,
Maybe you can help me.
Let me introduce myself.
I’m a member of the Margraten Memorial Group 17th Airborne Division. We are adopters of one or more graves of troopers of the 17th Airborne Division buried at the American Military Cemetery Margraten the Netherlands.
About the grave adoption. All the men and women remembered at Margraten, buried or mentioned on the Wall Of the Missing [WOM] are adopted by, most Dutch, civilians.
I’m the adopter of three men of the 17th Airborne Division and two men whose names are engraved in the WOM.
About the WOM.
The first man is Paul W. Trump. He was a top turret gunner in a B-17. I was invited by a group of visitors from Texas and I saw how a lady was upset as she discovered her brother’s name on this Wall. She did not know this. I promised her to lay on all the special occasions flowers in front of his name.
The second is Robert T. Cahow. He was killed in Hürtgen forest in Germany. His remains were recovered in 2000 and I met his two brothers and their wives at Margraten as they were on the way to Hürtgen forest to accompany his remains to their hometown in Wisconsin.
For the three men buried at Margraten in the beginning it was indeed “grave adoption”. With help of the 17th Airborne Division Association I got in touch with some of their comrades and with help of the Army Archives, who delivered me their Individual Deceased Personnel file (IDPF), I got in contact with their family members and schoolmates. I learned who these men were and, it might sound stupid, we became friends.
I did not adopt a grave or a name on the Wall, I adopted the men. From time to time I bring a visit to them and lay some
flowers. There are four special visiting days.
Varsity Day, March 24. The day of Operation Varsity. The Sunday before or after March 24 our group organizes a Varsity Day Ceremony at the Cemetery.
Memorial Day. This day starts for me with the Holy Mass at the Cemetery. After Mass we lay flowers at the WOM and on the graves of our special friends. After the official Ceremony the members of our group meet at the grave of George Peters, a Medal of Honor recipient of the 17th, to finish Memorial Day with our own Ceremony.
September 17, because I was liberated September 17 1944 I lay flowers on the graves of my friends.
Veterans Day. This day there is a Ceremony at Margraten Cemetery organized by the children of the AFNORTH School.
As we learned that the 17th Airborne Division Association should stop their activities in 2007, we decided to organize a “Fare Well” Ceremony at Margraten on Varsity Day 2007. We invited all the adopters of troopers of the 17th and we worked out a fine Ceremony.
This year, the 70th anniversary of Operation Varsity, we will do the same. You must know that we have our yearly Ceremony, but this is special again. This year we wanted to invite also the adopters of the glider pilots who were killed in Varsity and remembered at Margraten Cemetery.
I had to find out the names of these men and I discovered that not only glider pilots, but also crews of C-46, C-47 and B-24 were killed in helping to bring Operation Varsity to its success.
I found the names of 119 Army Air Force men who were killed in Varsity and remembered at Margraten Cemetery. So we will not only invite the adopters of the 282 men of the 17th, but also the adopters of the 119 men of the AAF.
Here comes why I need your help. The 17th Airborne Division Association stopped its activities but!!.
They know about what we are planning and they sent us a “Thank You” letter plus a “Certificate of Appreciation”.
This letter will be sent to the adopters, enclosed with the invitations, and the Certificates will be handed over after the
Can you organize that a “Thank You” letter and a “Certificate of Appreciation” for the adopters of the AAF men will be made and that a copy will be sent to me?
We will copy the letter and the Certificate. This last one on heavier paper.
I already sent this request to William Darron of info@ aafha.org, but I did not receive an answer.
To give you an idea what this letter and certificate meaning I enclose a copy.
In another mail I will send you the list of the Army Air Force men mentioned.
Thank you in advance,
Our letter was sent to Joseph and will be delivered to the grave adopters on 22 March for a 70th Celebration. This is not the
first time that we have been involved with the Adopt-A-Grave Program and our Research Team is always ready and willing to help
those adoptors to find informatio regarding their fallen veteran. In Winter 2007 George Theis helped a grave adopter locat information
by posting a letter in the Silent Wings Newsletter and then later the answer to that letter.