Seal of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association


UNDER THE NATIONAL WWII GLIDER PILOTS ASSOCIATION whose purpose is to provide and preserve Glider Pilot and Troop Carrier information in order to perpetuate the memory of those men, their service to country, and to keep alive the information of the relatively unknown glider program of WWII.
Core research group includes:

Major Leon B SPENCER 1924 - 2016
WWII Glider and Troop Carrier Historian
Research Team Lead/Adviser

On December 28th 2016 the Association’s Research Team lost their beloved leader. Leon B. Spencer, the National WW II Glider Pilots Association's historian, was instrumental in developing the research team. He guided and advised the team. He was a valuable asset to the team’s ability to verify details he knew by experience and or years of study. He studied all aspects of the glider program and troop carrier history; training, combat, towing, snatching, construction of the CG–4A glider, and the history of each troop carrier group. He wrote many articles on his areas of study and also wrote many biographical papers on numerous troop carrier veterans and friends. January of 2017 in memory of Leon we have named our team the Leon B. Spencer Research Team.

Starting in the Army Air Corps Leon graduated from Advanced Glider Training at Dalhart, Texas (Class 43–4) in February 1943 as a Flight Officer. Twenty four years later Leon retired from the Air Force. Leon is an expert in communication systems and was responsible for modernization of the communications systems in Air Force One. Through both his first hand experience of being a glider pilot during WWII, as well as conducting research since then, Leon has become a top historian in the area of WWII Troop Carrier and combat glider history.

In 2007 Leon received the Bickett Ellington Memorial Award for outstanding service in the interest of the National World War II Glider Pilots Association, Inc.

Leon’s many published works include:
26th Mobile Reclamation and Repair Squadron: A Concise History, 2002
Glider Retrieval in Burma, 2014. Co Author, Charles Day
They Flew into Battle on Silent Wings, 2010
WWII U.S. Army Air Force Glider Aerial Retrieval System, 2007
Development and Use of the Waco CG-4A Cargo Glider Deceleration Parachute, 2003
Glider Tow Ropes: World War II Military Gliders, 2003
The Wizards of Crookham Common, 1999

We stand on his shoulders.

Leon B Spencer Research Team Members

Dr. Don ABBE
WWII Glider and Troop Carrier:

Dr. Donald Abbe is a WWII historian. He retired in 2016 as the curator of the Silent Wings Museum. He is enjoying retirement and has kept in touch with his passion for history as a member of the research team.

He is the author of several books. His most recent publication; 2014, South Plains Army Airfield; Images of Aviation

Hans den BROK
International Director NWWIIGPA
WWII Glider and Troop Carrier Research.

For almost two decades Hans has been researching WWII Troop Carrier history with an emphasis on the Market and Varsity Operations. He is a leading authority on C-47 and Troop Carrier missions in those operations.

In 2008 he wrote, Wings of Freedom; Troop Carrier C-47 losses in Market Garden and the role of the underground movement. In 2014 he published his latest book, Battle of Burp Gun Corner which is available through the Silent Wings museum.

In 2012 Hans was awarded the S. Tipton Randolph Memorial Award for outstanding service in the interest of the National World War II Glider Pilots Association, Inc. Hans has reached out to help veterans and descendants research their WWII history and he is highly respected by his colleagues and co-researchers.

In 2015 he was instrumental in getting a memorial placed at Hammenkilin honoring the Glider Pilots in the Varsity Operation. He has also facilitated, through deed and research, the placing of several monuments in the Market Garden area, among them the Troop Carrier monument at the drop- and landing zone at Son. Hans also maintains a website with rich content about Troop Carrier missions, people, and stories, located at

Hans also administers the Airborn Troop Carrier Facebook page.

Currently he is co-authoring with Adam Berry the book A Breathtaking Spectacle and has an ongoing project writing small booklets that cover every aspect of Troop Carrier.

Charles DAY
National Secretary, Executive Council NWWIIGPA
WWII Glider and Troop Carrier Historian.

Charles is the foremost expert in the science of WWII gliders, having extensive knowledge in both the manufacturing process as well as practical use of the cargo (combat) gliders. As a young boy living in Wilmington, Ohio, Charles watched gliders and tugs from Clinton County Army Air Field which was the home of the Glider Branch Engineering Test and Experiment Base from 1942 to November 1945.

In 1997, Charles”s interest in the WWII glider test base was piqued by the Director of the Clinton County, Ohio Historical Society. This renewed interest resulted in the writing of the book titled Silent Ones, WWII Invasion Glider Test & Experiment, published in 2001, and the continued research of the various USAAF gliders. Charles has also written various articles including:

The XCG-17 Glider
VOO DOO was My Name
The Gibson Girls
The Fighting Falcons
CG-4A Glider Communications Systems
In 2009 Charles received the Bickett Ellington Memorial Award for outstanding service in the interest of the National World War II Glider Pilots Association, Inc.

WWII Glider and Troop Carrier and Airborne Infantry Research.

For over 10 years Christian has been researching WWII Troop Carrier and Gilder Infantry history in the area of all major Operations in the ETO. He was instrumental in getting a monument, Voormalige Amerikaanse Begraafplaats Son, where the temporary cemetery at Son was located, Christian has researched the location of the 101st burial site and the locations of glide pilots and C-47 crew members as well German soldiers. Monument Contact

WWII Glider and Troop Carrier: Specializing in 439th Troop Carrier Group.

Chuck’s father, Captain Henry C Hobbs, was the Glider Officer for the 93rd Troop Carrier Squadron of the 439th Troop Carrier Group. Henry flew Normandy ( Mission Hackensack) , Holland (Operation Market Garden) and Wesel Germany ( Operation Varsity). Chuck has spent the last several years researching his father's service record and has made two presentations at the annual Association’s reunions.

Chuck’s primary study is in the history of the 439th and its role in Normandy, Southern France, Holland, Bastogne and Varsity. He is particularly interested in interacting with family members of 439th personnel to help each other learn more about the service careers of our family members.

WWII Glider and Troop Carrier: Specializing in the 53rd Troop Carrier Wing and the D-Day glider missions.

For over eight years, Neil has been researching and collecting IX Troop Carrier Command where the focus of his studies lies within the Troop Carrier Groups within the 53rd TCW, namely the 434th, 435th, 436th, 437th and 438th Troop Carrier Groups. He focuses on these particular groups due to his location near Swindon in England where the old Troop Carrier airfields are only a short distance away.

His vast collection of WWII artifacts includes vehicles, uniforms, photographs and documentation. His collection of Troop Carrier artifacts is highly impressive and a number of his items can be seen on his Facebook page ‘Honouring IX Troop Carrier Command’

A serving Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force, Neil is currently a support manager for the C-17 Globemaster Projects Team.

49th Squadron Glider Pilots.

WWII Glider Pilot. Fred is a team adviser. He specializes in the WWII glider pilot program and the 49th Troop Carrier Squadrion, 313th Troop Carrier Groups as well as all tactics of the infantry glider pilot and the Market Garden Operation.

We took in the 82nd airborne. We were armed with weapons to fight if it was necessary. Three of the nine days I was in the combat zone, we, glider pilots, were deployed across the frontline facing Germany-two to a fox hole taking turns to guard the territory. We were armed with a burp gun with 7 clips of 30 45 caliber bullets and a bayonet attached. Over the other shoulder was a bag of about 7 grenades. We had a 45 caliber pistol with clips. Also, we had a first-aid kit, canteen, and a fox-hole digging tool. The first couple of days we, with the help of a Dutch farmer's horse and wagon, picked up the parachuted armaments and supplies. We marched prisoners to a stockade. I helped the temporary burial of the dead. On the return our convoy was attacked by the Germans killing American soldiers in the front of the line.

49th Squadron    

Fred went on as a member of the Air Force from 1949 to 1953 and served in Japan and Korea. He has been a long time member of this Association and in 2006 Fred received the Bickett Ellington Memorial Award for outstanding work in the interest of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association. Fred is alsso a contributor to the Silent Wings Museum Newsletter

WWII Glider Pilot. Otto is a team adviser. He specializes in the WWII glider pilot program, the 314th and 61st Troop Carrier Groups as well as all tactics of the infantry glider pilot and the Market Garden Operation.

Barkston Heath 22 September 1944
Barkston Heath 22 September 1944, waiting for take off for the Holland mission.

Otto flew Market and upon landing was subjected to small arms fire and machine gun fire. Was on the line with the 82nd for several days then returned to base. On the return his convoy was attacked by the Germans killing American soldiers in the front of the line.

As soon as Otto got back from Market he was ordered to immediately report to the 315th and a car was waiting to take him Otto was reassigned to the 34th TC Squadron, 313th

21 Dec 44 Today our Group orchestra was on BBC broadcasting to the States. The band, which is presently known as the "Dakotans", was organized four months ago and rapidly became a smooth working outfit… They have played for any many Squadron dances, Red Cross dances, and "Local Talent" shows here on the base - affording good entertainment for the Group and Station personnel. Besides their work here on the field, they have played at various other fields in the U.K., where they were received with acclaim. The invitation for the BBC broadcast came after completion of a five day stand in London, during which time they were playing for service clubs. This latest recognition climaxes a four month climb to success - and the 315th is proud of its band.

Otto was instrumental in setting up the Silent Wings Museum and is a contributor to the Silent Wings Museum Newsletter. Otto has been a member of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association for many years. In 1998 he served a the National Chairman on the Executive Council and is again currently serving as the National Chairman. He also served for many years and the Association's chaplin. In 2001 Otto received the Bickett Ellington Memorial Award for outstanding work in the interest of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association

WWII Glider and Troop Carrier: Specializing in 61st TC Group, 14th, 15th, 53rd, and 59th TC Squadrons

Tom’s father Herschel M. Martin was commissioned upon his graduation from Texas A&M University in June, 1941. After a year in the Corps of Engineers, he transferred to the Air Force, trained as a C-47 pilot, and joined the 14th Troop Carrier Squadron, 61st Troop Carrier Group prior to its deployment to North Africa. He flew the invasions of Sicily, Italy, Normandy, and Holland. Coming home in March, 1945 he then served a year in the HQ of the AAF Technical Service Command at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio where he investigated the characteristics of laminar flow airfoils at trans-sonic conditions.

Tom’s interest is in the four squadrons (14th, 15th, 53rd, 59th) of the 61st TC Group. He corresponds with family members of those who were in those squadrons, and shares information to help them learn of their father’s service during WW2.

WWII Glider and Troop Carrier: Specializing in 61st TC Group, 14th, 15th, 53rd, and 59th TC Squadrons as well as the 435th.

Sharon McCULLAR – Silent Wing Museum Curator

Sharon comes to the Silent Wings Museum from Michigan, where for the past 12 years she was the Curator of Collections for a county history museum. She is a graduate of the Texas Tech University Museum Science program and is happy to be back in Lubbock. She was born in Dallas and has family in the Lubbock and Dallas areas.

She is looking forward to learning all about the Silent Wings collection and working with the unique artifacts it has to offer. To start with, she is concentrating on reading as much as possible, digging into the archival and artifact collections, and studying the WWIIGPA website and newsletters.

The Silent Wings Museum staff, the WWIIGPA family, and especially the LBS Research Team have all been very welcoming and she looks forward to meeting the membership at the Reunion this year. Sharon was a member of storytelling and game night clubs in Michigan and spent a good deal of time enjoying the beaches, forests, and ice cream shops of Lake Michigan and Michigan’s West Coast.

She especially enjoys playing Scrabble and horseshoes, although not at the same time.

Wing 1 Commander (Western U.S.) NWWIIGPA
WWII Cartography Analysis and Research
17th Airborne Research

Bruce has studied the Varsity operation extensively from the perspective of the 17th Airborne, particularly Landing Zone S. He has contributed greatly to the research of the glider missions. He has researched countless maps at the National Archives and stitching together the maps and analyzing them have lead to new discoveries of combat historical locations. Bruce is an accomplished photographer and uses these skills to photograph the aerial negatives, textual files and film to get high quality copies of technical media. Bruce is also an editor for many of the NWWIIGPA publications.

Patricia OVERMAN
National Wing Commander
Area of Study: Bastogne, Rhine Crossing and Flying Pipeline
Unit focus: 438th TCG and 435th TCG

Patricia is the National Wing Commander of the Association. She is also the web developer for the veteran’s website which was originally started by Lt. Col. George Theis. She also developed the online database for the bio-files and administers the social media sites. Her area of study in the Troop Carrier Genre has been Bastogne, Redball, Varsity and the Flying Pipeline.

Over the years she has given presentations on the glider program with other glider pilot veterans. Along with other team members she has obtained WWII historical files from the various governmental resources in aid of updating and documenting the 7000 plus records in the Association's database.
In 2013 she discovered that veteran Bob Swenson had not received an overdue Bronze Star Medal for his participation in the Varsity Operation, specifically, the Battle of Burp Gun Corner. She continues to help find veterans or families whose medals were not presented.

In 2013 Patricia was awarded the S. Tipton Randolph Memorial Award for outstanding service in the interest of the National World War II Glider Pilots Association, Inc.

As a thank you to the City of Ris Orangis and to the historical society (GROUPE DE RIS-ORANGIS D’HISTOIRE LOCALE) the book titled Les Château de L’Aerodrome A-48; Foyers de Pilotes Amêricains Durant la Seconde Guerre Mondiale". This book was her research on the chateaus used by the pilots of the 435th while they were stationed at air field A-48 (Bretigny, Fr).

She is also a contributor to the WWII Quarterly An American College Goes to War published in Winter 2013. Her last article, on “The Flying Pipeline”, was published in the Winter 2018 edition.

Her father was Maj. E. Lee Whitmire, USAF (Ret.) b.1924 - d.1972 who was a Power Pilot/Glider Pilot assigned during WWII to the 438th TCG, 88th TCS, and for the Varsity Operation was assigned to the 435th TCG, 78th TCS. Lee was also a member of the 435th Provisional Glider Pilots Infantry Company where in 1996 they were awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

WWII flight instructor Donald Ehr (left) discussing CG-4A Cockpit control panel with Gary Stripling, 2012.

a member of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association
WWII Cartography Analysis and Research
Unit focus: 439th Troop Carrier Group

Gary has spent several years studying the 439th Troop Carrier Groups involved in Operation Repulse (Battle of the Bulge) and Operation Varsity (Invasion of Germany). His Father-in law is Chuck Berry who flew a glider into Bastogne on Dec. 27th 1945 and flew a glider into LZ-S Northwest of Wesel on March 24, 1945. Gary has given several presentations on these two glider combat missions. Gary applies his keen analytical ability to aerial photo interpretation and map reading.

Keith Thoms

Deputy Wing Commander
Eastern section of the U.S.
for the National WWII Glider Pilots Association

Keith H. Thoms is a Computer Engineer with twenty-five years of civilian service in the Department of the Navy. Maybe serendipity had him being born in the “Birthplace of Aviation,” and a licensed sailplane pilot before driving at the “Nylon Capital of the World.” And with no family connection to wartime service, analysis research at work turned into a hobby and he is proud to be a Deputy Wing Commander. He enjoys learning from these veterans whose selfless contributions continue to make very real this poorly understood military capability.

In 2016 Keith was the recipient of the S. Tipton Randolph Memorial Award For outstanding Service in the Interest of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association, Inc.

Silent Wings Museum Newsletter Winter 2011
Military Snatch Pickup Summary

Silent Wings Museum Newsletter Summer 2014
The Making of Character: WWII Glider Pilots and the 1918 Pandemic

Naval Engineers Journal Volume 121 No. 2 June 2009

Joint Force Quarterly Issue 48 1st Quarter 2008

Technical publication NSWCDD/TR-07/7

Technical publication NSWCDD/TR-06/52