TRIBUTE TO THE AMERICAN COMBAT GLIDER PILOTS OF WORLD WAR II
ANNUAL REUNION Welcome Page Site Entrance Resolution - 110th Congress Senate Resolution - National Airborne Day Dedication Dedication 2 Dedication 3 Roll of Honor Children of The Netherlands Adopt GI Graves Combat Glider Pilots Virtual Memorial Virtual Memorial Page 2 Silent Wings Museum Waco CG-4A Waco CG-4A - 2 Waco Drawings by David Eckert Later U.S. Glider Designs Airspeed Horsa Hamilcar Tow Ships Glider Pilot Training A Glider Pilot's Log Book Bowman Field Kentucky South Plains Army Air Field, Lubbock, Texas Wright Field, Ohio "The Snatch" Glider Infantry Sicily - "Operation Husky" Burma - "Operation Thursday" Normandy - "Operation Neptune" Southern France - "Operation Dragoon" Holland - " Operation Market Garden" Holland - Page 2 Holland - Page 3 Bastogne - "Operation Repulse" Germany - Operation "Varsity" Philippines - "Mission Appari" Special Missions Between Missions Glider Operations in England Glider Assembly at RAF Greenham Common Photos from Jan Bos - Holland September 7, 1942 "Life" Magazine "War Glider" Article "Yank" Magazine "Liberation Edition" - June 11, 1944 "Yank" Magazine "Airborne Operations in France" - July 2, 1944 Glider Insignia America's Latest Glider - The Space Shuttle Space Shuttle COLUMBIA A Glider Pilot's Day of WWII - Original Art Work by Dale Oliver Glider Pilot Humor GP Photos Letters, Wit, and Wisdom Unusual Glider Designs Interesting Photos & Stories About WWII Gliders Memorabilia German Appraisal of Airborne Operations Earlier Glider Designs WWII Posters Books on Gliders Attributions Links Page Airborne Research Resources Where to Find Books Currently in Print on WWII Glider, and Glider-Related Programs Glider Pilot Contacts Page of Emails and Addresses of People Who Would Like to Network on the Subject of WWII Glider Pilots Military Reunions in Dayton, Ohio
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DEDICATION - PAGE 3
In December 1944, after the Germans launched their counter-offensive that came to be known as "The Battle of the Bulge," the American 101st Airborne Division holding Bastogne was surrounded but undefeated by enemy units. The 101st badly need ammunition, supplies, doctors and corpsmen. In violation of the Geneva Convention, the Germans captured the Division's medical personnel and with the casualties mounting, the need for doctors was critical. Because they occupied such a small area where parachuted supplies might easily fall into German lines, the Allies turned to the Glider Pilots and asked for volunteers to accomplish the resupply mission with pinpoint landings. Approximately 100 Glider Pilots volunteered.
The Asia Pacific Campaign Medal
Awarded to persons serving in the Asia Pacific Theatre of Operations in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States between December 7, 1941 until November 8,1945.
Naming the rescue of the defenders of Bastogne "Operation Repulse," the Allied high command directed the Glider Pilots to undertake these one-way resupply missions into the middle of enemy-held territory in daylight and casualties were very high. Of the roughly 100 gliders, only 65 reached Bastogne, a 35% mission loss rate, one of the highest of WWII. These hazardous flights into massed anti-aircraft and small arms fire were pivotal in keeping the defenders of Bastogne going until main ground units could break through enemy lines and complete the rescue. While the defense of Bastogne is well-known in military history, almost nothing is said about the amazing glider mission that enabled the 101st to hold out.
The World War II Victory Medal
Awarded to all the servicemen and women who served in the United States Armed Forces during the years 1941 to 1946.
In March 1945, combat gliders flew in their last major mission in the European war in "Operation Varsity," the first airborne assault onto German soil and the costliest for the Glider Pilots. 1,348 gliders took part in this airborne drop. On the first day of the assault, March 24, 1945, the Glider Pilots suffered their highest one-day casualty rate -- 78 killed. Before the mission ended, a total of 80 Glider Pilots were killed and approximately 240 were wounded. Many Glider Pilots who took part in this mission had survived the dangers of several previous missions only to lose their lives in this final airborne assault into the teeth of massed German forces defending their soil. This offensive was one of the final, major blows to the Nazi regime and hastened the German retreat. The European war ended the next month.
In June 1945, in "Mission Appari," American Glider Pilots delivered 11th Airborne Division troops to northern Luzon in the Philippines. This was the first and last glider mission in the Pacific and the last glider mission of WWII. Notably, it was the first and last combat mission for a larger version of the Waco CG-4A, the CG-13A, twice as large and able to carry twice as many troops and far more equipment.
U.S. Postage Stamp Commemorating Airborne Units
This stamp depicts the Waco CG-4A, the glider flown by most American Glider Pilots, on the ground following a combat landing. Most gliders did not arrive at their landing zones intact as depicted in this picture. They were usually heavily damaged or destroyed since they landed in fields, not runways. Note the jacks at the tail section holding the end of the glider up so cargo, usually vehicles, artillery or supplies, could be off-loaded through the front of the aircraft. The cockpit section was hinged so it could be lifted over the top of the aircraft allowing cargo to be rolled out the open nose.
The gliders of WWII and the sacrifices of the brave men who flew them proved the high value of quickly transporting troops to distant locations and bringing them to the ground in cohesive units, something that parachuting often prevented as winds and faulty navigation scattered units too far apart to quickly assemble and fight as a unit. Helicopter technology already existed and was spurred on by the success of the glider forces. Today, the combat glider's operational descendent, the helicopter, is an indispensable part of any modern fighting force.
Telegram from famed author Cornelius Ryan (A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day, and other works) to the National World War II Glider Pilots Association holding their annual reunion in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 1974.
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