The official electronic newsletter of the veterans and descendants of the
U.S. 17th Airborne Division, WWII 
The missions of the "Scions of the 17th Airborne" are to honor the service of all veterans of the 17th, and to educate others about the history and sacrifices made by the troopers who served in this division during WW II.

We strive to accomplish these missions, by holding regional gatherings where troopers and their familys can gather, by sharing their recolections in this "Thunder From Heaven" newsletter, on our website, and on our Facebook page. In addition we collect documents related to the history of the 17th, and make them available to our membership.
Issue # 6 - March 2013

Please send us your 17th related news items, questions etc. so that we can share them with the entire group. You may direct your mail to the Scions at:"".
Ed Siergiej Jr. - Editor
Visit our Facebook page at:
"17th Airborne Division Scions (Descendants)"
Post your 17th related photos, stories, questions.
In This Newsletter
-   Trooper Stories - Listen to the Wind
     by Paris Craighead via. Scion Diane Clark

-   17th Veterans Gather in Lancaster, PA
     by Isaac Epps

-  17th Trooper remembered in New Jersey

-   Letter to Speaker Boehner regarding the Medal of Honor  
    request for Capt. Charlie Jones
    by John Knormann

-  Letter Requesting a Postage Stamp Honoring
   General Miley as the "Father of the US Paratrooper"
   by John Kormann

-  Scions Ode to the Brave

-  17th Airborne Challenge Coins
    by Jeff Schumacher, son of John Schumacher, 194th GIR

-   Welcome New Scion Members

-   Chaplains Corner
     by Isaac Epps, Scion Chaplain

-   Scions to Provide Wreaths for 17th MOH Recipients

-    St Clairsville, OH Varsity Gathering - April 18 -21
     by Nancy Lauria

-  17th Airborne Related Items

Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom

- Letters From Home and Abroad

-  Sick Call


 Trooper Stories
Each month "Thunder From Heaven" features a story about a 17th trooper in his own words, or as told to a family member or friend. We encourage those who would like to submit an article to send them in to us at:

Scion Diane Clark has provided the following article.
The following are articles that Paris Craighead shared with Melvin Lagoon in March 2013. Reference on the original indicates that he was 82 when he put these thoughts to paper. I have copied each exactly as he sent them. (Diane Clark)

By Paris Craighead
17th Airborne Division
E Company, 194th GIR

This is to tell about the experience I had by riding a glider in the German Invasion. We were up early on March 24, 1945, somewhere in France. We ate chow and were trucked out to the airport. Our mortar squad was assigned a glider. As we were waiting for the pilots I can’t remember saying anything to anyone else or them to me. It wasn’t long before the pilots and co-pilots came. I can remember very well what they said. “Attention you airborne soldiers, we will get you to the targets safe. No doubt about it. But when we get there, we want you to take care of us.” These men, looking almost as old as our dads, made us feel pretty good. We all loaded up and didn’t have to wait very long before we took off. The take-off was real smooth. We circled to get in formation. I looked out the window and there was another glider beside us. I knew then that our tow plane was pulling two gliders. The ride was very smooth, not too much noise. Sitting there, I noticed we weren’t talking or laughing like we did in training. As we gained speed, the wind got very loud. I thought back to our glider rides in training, the one trip where the glider would not turn and had to be cut loose. The pilot said to check your seat belts. He flipped the nose straight down, and near the ground, he pulled up and he landed the glider. Even as close as that was, I never thought we would crash. As the speed picked up, the wind was really loud. As I sat there, the noise turned to music, church music. I can’t remember the song, but I knew every word. I can remember thinking, I don’t know that song. In my head I could say every word. I opened my mouth to shut out the noise and when I shut it, the song would come back. I did that two or three times. I think the trip took three hours. As we neared the landing, I looked out the small window. I saw a B-17 with two motors on fire. It was pretty close. I saw two men bail out. I think we were on the west side of the Rhine River. As we were over our landing area, we cut loose. The wind stopped and it got very quiet. You could hear what sounded like a typewriter. It didn’t last very long. The pilot called back, “raise your legs up, we are going through a fence.” We went through three fences. We made a real good landing. No one was hurt. As I was closest to the door and we were in a hurry to get out, I forgot to undo my seat belt. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn the whole glider over. We didn’t have any ground fire. It didn’t take very long for our company to get together. We went along this road taking all of the people out of the houses. As we were clearing the houses, a German tank showed up. It fired on us and the people with 88’s. The only thing we had was a .50 caliber machine gun on our jeep. The gunner stood up in the open and fired on the tank. The tank moved on. We had one guy hit in the legs pretty bad. We put tourniquets on both legs, gave him a morphine shot, and carried him to a shed about 60 feet long. As we put him down, somebody gave me a German luger and said “this is the gun that shot him.” Another soldier was on the ground, shot in the stomach. I went to him, lit a cigarette and gave it to him. The German that shot him was in the back of the shed. He had given up. I looked at the luger which I really wanted. I turned and gave it to him saying; maybe you’ll need this until you get help. We had to move on. I don’t know how they made it. I think maybe I should have shot the German. Our 37 anti tank guns got down. It didn’t take long form them to knock out three tanks. After that it got easier for us.
Veterans and Scions Pose for a Photo after the Memorial Service

17th Veterans Gather Again in Lancaster, PA

by Isaac Epps
The fifth annual Bill Smith 17th Airborne reunion in Lancaster, PA. was a great success. Among the 69 attendees were Veterans, wives, children and new Scions.

  The advance crew, consisting of Jeff and John Schumacher, Mike Rock, Michele Smith and her life-saving friend Sylvia and myself arrived on Saturday to get set up. A special thanks to Jeff for volunteering to
be our shuttle--he planned and executed pick ups from the airport, the bus station, and the train station throughout the day and night on Sunday.

  On Sunday afternoon, Mike and I sat down for soup in the bar, which is located across from the registration desk. As attendees arrived, the numbers swelled and the bar was filled with laughter and hugs and the renewal of the close bond within the 17th Family. Matt Baldwin, grandson of Bob Baldwin, had come with a group of 17th re-enactors and set up an impressive display of WWII artifacts for the group to enjoy.
  At 5pm we gathered in the hospitality room for a meet and greet; and then went upstairs for one of many "I ate too much" meals. Afterwards, some fellowship and off to bed for some much needed rest.
  Monday morning, the Pledge of Allegiance signaled the official beginning of the gathering. New attendees, past Presidents and Veterans were recognized. Col. Kormann introduced a special guest, Col. Bill Weber, editor of the Airborne Quarterly, who served in WWII and Korea; and who has been very supportive of the 17th and the Scions in his fine publication. We heard reports from Scions President Rose Friday and Secretary/Treasurer Ed Siergiej on the progress the Scions are making. Jos Bex reported on his effort to translate the 17th portion of the Luftlanding book; and Col. Kormann reported on his effort to get the Charlie Jones Silver Star elevated to the MOH; and also to get a General Miley "Father of the US Paratrooper" stamp issued.

  Then we settled down to our "re-union"--the time for Veterans to get together; stories to be told and re-told; new attendees to be in awe of what they were witnessing. This has always been Michele's focus--time together; and this theme carried throughout the reunion.  Michele, who is Bill Smith's daughter and angel, is the most gracious hostess there could be. Her hard work and attention to detail has always made these gatherings a big success. She was constantly laying out snacks and edibles so that no one could possibly get hungry between breakfast and dinner. Thank you, Michele for taking care of us.
  On Monday afternoon we had the WWII sing-along--thanks to John Schumacher and my sister Barbara Tuttle for helping lead that. We called Bill and sang his favorite, "When You're Smiling" and "Bill Bailey" for him. Monday evening we had "Military Bingo" and had a lot of fun with that. Michele's aunt Dot won big, and I still think it was rigged. We also heard from John Rauch, C-47 pilot who pulled double tow in Varsity. Thanks John, for joining us.

  Tuesday morning at breakfast, we were given a special gift by Jeff Schumacher. He and his wife Melinda had designed and produced a 17th Airborne Scions Challenge Coin, and these were passed out to the Veterans--(see related article in this issue for the whole story). Ed also passed out a Scions mug he had designed and have for sale. Thanks, guys.

  Tuesday afternoon, a representative from the Army Heritage Center in Carlyle spoke to the Veterans about the importance of getting their stories recorded. Then, historian Brook Blades with the 14 Veterans in attendance came in and recorded a round table discussion with the Veterans about their experiences in the service. He will put them in the archives at Carlyle. That evening was free for more fellowship.

  Wednesday morning saw the Scions gather for a short informal meeting to toss around ideas and to discuss where we stand with our projects, missions, merchandising and such. It was a good discussion; and it was especially encouraging to see the new members coming forward with enthusiasm and ideas.

  Wednesday afternoon was set aside for the Memorial Service, which led by Rev. Keeler; and which is becoming a most meaningful event at our reunions. Col. Kormann read the units and KIA numbers plus the names of Troopers who have passed since last March. The bell was rung, and candle bearers were sent forward by Melanie Sembrat to place a
candle for each unit. The Colonel delivered a stirring message, offering a challenge to be strong voices for getting our country back on track morally, ethically, and spiritually. He reminded us that as Veterans and Scions we owe it out of dignity and honor to speak up.
  Hymns were sung, and one in particular deserves note. About 2 weeks before the reunion, Col. Kormann called me to share that his wife Elsa had written what was entitled "Ode to the Brave". When I read it, I was floored! It was truly inspired writing. It captured the story of the 17th and the passing of the torch to the Scions in beautiful prose and poetry. Set to the hymn "The Voice of God Is Calling" (Meirionydd); it is now the anthem for the Scions. A very special thanks to Mrs. Kormann for this wonderful gift.

  Wednesday evening featured the unveiling of the "Scion-ara"; a drink concocted by Col. Kormann as the official drink of the Scions. "Night Drop" and "Day Drop" samples were passed around and enjoyed by all.
Attendees then took opportunities to share with the group and to say thanks to Michele. Scions Board of Director member Cindy Heigl was so brave to get up and share with the group concerning the health issues she is facing. Cindy, know that we are praying for you right now--keep up your wonderful spirit.

  Along the way during the week we called Veterans who could not attend and we recognized those devoted wives who attend whose 17th husbands have passed by giving them each a Challenge Coin. We signed up new Scions and we were treated to various WWII memorabilia that attendees brought to share. John Schumacher shared about his trip to Belgium last year and we viewed a video greeting from Cenda and his Czech re-enactor group.
  Ed was posting a running account of our activities on facebook; and from the responses, I can tell that the interest was high and our group will grow at next year's reunion. Dates for that have already been set for March 23 thru March 27; and Mike Rock has already reserved his room; as usual.

  To sum it up--we had a ball. Thanks to all who attended and who continue to support this event and the Scions' efforts. We look forward to seeing everyone next year.
From Left: Richard Deska, Pat Giannone, Joe Quade, Jos Bex, William Mulligan (VFW Post Commander) and Mayor Richard Mola

Local Hero’s Memory Being Kept Alive Overseas      

14 Mar 2013
Community News - Elmwood Park, NJ
  More than 3,000 miles away from his home, the memory of one World War II paratrooper is being kept alive by a man in Holland.
Jos Bex has tended to the grave of Vincent Miles for the past eight years. Miles, who was born and raised in East Paterson, is buried along with more than 9,000 men in Margraten, Holland at the Netherlands American Cemetery. It is the third largest cemetery in Europe for unidentified soldiers who died in World War II.
Every grave is adopted and tended to, Bex said, mostly by residents from local communities. The responsibility has been passed down from generation to generation, although there are also organizations that maintain the cemetery. Every Memorial Day, Bex lays wreaths on the graves.
Miles was only about 19 years old when he was deployed as a paratrooper with the 17th Airborne Division. Joe Quade, 90, served in the same outfit as Miles, although he didn’t know him personally.
Quade does public relations for Montville VFW Post 5481 and researches local graves of veterans. He reached out to Bex, who gives tours of World War II battlefields in Europe, from Normany to Hürtgen Forest.
Quade also helped track down Miles’ surviving family members, his cousin, Richard Deska, and his niece, Pat Giannone.
Bex was curious about Elmwood Park. He wanted to see where Miles had lived. On March 8, he and his wife, Maria, visited borough hall and met with Mayor Richard Mola, local VFW members, Quade and Miles’ family.
“It’s just incredible that the people in Holland care that much,” said Giannone.
Her father, Henry Miles, died when she was 3 years old.
“I really didn’t know anything about my Uncle Vincent until many years later when I was reunited with my Aunt Mary,” she said. “She started sharing pictures with me...”
“Now it’s like all the puzzle pieces are fitting together,” she added. “My children were just in awe.”
According to Quade, Miles was killed by a sniper on March 24, 1945 in a parachute jump across the Rhine River as part of Operation Varsity.
“I call it the forgotten paratrooper division,” said Bex. “It’s all about the Band of Brothers.”
Although the operation was ultimately a success for the allies, half of Miles’ regiment was dropped in the wrong zone due to dense fog which obscured the location for the transport aircraft pilots.
“Vincent unfortunately got across the river, but as soon as he got across, he was shot and killed,” said Quade. “It’s been rumored, although not substantiated, that when he jumped he landed in a tree and a German sniper got him.”
“Probably in the plane was Robert Capa, the famous war photographer,” said Bex. “There is this picture...of a guy hanging in a tree…”
Although he can’t prove it, that could be a photo of Miles in the tree. Bex lives about 60 kilometers away and has done research there for his tours, he said.
Bex also belongs to a group called “Never Forget Them,” which commemorates the American soldiers in an area called “the Island.”
“We keep on doing it until we hand it over to the next generation,” said Bex.
“What you and the volunteers do is provide dignity to our loved ones,” Giannone said to Bex, with tears in her eyes. “I did not know my uncle, but the fact that you and the other volunteers take the time to care for all of our loved ones is just unbelievable. Thank you.”
“I’m amazed that you’ve done all this and continue to do this, and many of your countrymen take on that responsibility,” said Mola.
Bex asked if the borough could donate a ribbon for Miles’ wreath.
“They’re all adopted, not one grave is free or open,” said Bex.
Individuals can pay 5 Euro and lay flowers on the grave, but they’re not expected to maintain them. “I do it because they liberated us,” he said.
Miles received several medals for his service, including a Purple Heart. Miles Street in Elmwood Park was named after him, and his name is displayed on a local veteran’s memorial.
Despite arriving in the middle of a snowstorm, the entourage paid homage to Miles, driving past his former home on Washington Avenue, visiting Miles Street, the firehouse that is dedicated to him and the war memorial that bears his name.
Quade said that the 17th Airborne Division has held nationwide reunions from 1954 to 2009, and he has attended all 55. This weekend Bex and his wife will join him at the local reunion in Lancaster, Penn.

Editors Note: The Scions thank Jos Bex, who along with his wife Maria attended this years Operation Varsity gathering in Lancaster, and all other grave adoptors who honor the men of the 17th Airborne in so many ways. It was wonderful that Jos was able to connect with the family of his adopted trooper.
The letter above, was sent from Col. John Kormann to Speaker John Boehner requesting the Medal of Honor for Captain Charlie Jones
Letter from Col. Kormann to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee regarding the request to get a stamp honoring General Miley as the "Father of the US Paratrooper".
(Note: Webster’s Dictionary states that “an ode is a poem suited to be set to music and sung or chanted……..especially a poem characterized by nobility of sentiment and dignity of style.”)
By Elsa Wells Kormann
(Sung to the great Welch tune Meirionydd,”The Voice of God is Calling.”)

The 17th Airborne Scions are gathering here today.
The memory of their fathers unites them on their way.
They heard the sounds of battle that echo down the years.
Which rallies all who hear them to put away their fears.
The Ardennes did enclose them in woods so dark and deep.
Where brave young men have entered into eternal sleep.
But heed what price they had to pay that others may live free,
O ! Gratitude to heroes in perpetuity.
The foe knew they were coming and aimed at planes on high.
The troopers paid no heed to them and jumped into the sky.
The men in gliders followed, though targets they would be
Their courage knew no limits, their eye on victory.
All hail the 17th Airborne, soldiers of the sky.
From mountain top and Valley their fame will never die.
The guns have fallen silent; the torch at last is thrown.
And Scions now stand ready to claim it as their own.

Editors Note: After a couple of practices, those attending the Memorial Service at the Lancaster reunion did a great job of singing this new song.
Challenge Coins 

By Jeff Schumacher

This is an accounting of a couple different and seemingly unrelated occurrences
that initiated some thoughts percolating about our beloved 17th Airborne
veterans.  The first was learning from several people about how the Scions of
the 17th Airborne Division came to be, including the challenge issued in 2011 by
Colonel John Kormann for the next generation - the descendants - the Scions - as
the torch is passed.  I could not help but think of the words of WWI veteran Lt.
Colonel John McCrae in his famous poem In Flanders Fields: "...The torch; be
yours to hold it high.."   Like McCrae, Colonel Kormann has challenged us to
carry on and keep the spirit of the 17th alive and well.  I like and support
that idea, and I like the action that Col. Korman has inspired.   The other
occurrence was something I observed in Bastogne, Belgium in March 2012.  While
visiting the Bastogne Barracks museum, we enjoyed a chance encounter with a
group from the US Air Force JAG Corps visiting from Germany.  We visited for 30
minutes or so, during which - I later learned - one of the officers offered Dad
a Challenge Coin.   He was proud to receive it and enjoys sharing the story.  
  Challenge Coins are part of our military history. I cannot attest to the true
origin of the challenge coin, but believe it is safe to say they are often exchanged and displayed as examples of honor and pride, they are valued by their bearers and recipients, and are often presented as awards.  This tradition continues.    
 My wife Melinda and I had discussed how we would like to do 'something' to help
further the cause of the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division.  As the joke goes, "I saw the ball getting bigger, then it hit me..."  The challenge from Col. Kormann and the challenge coin presented to Dad while in Belgium combined to hit us: we need a challenge coin!  Fairly small, easy to carry, a conversation starter, has 2 seemed a good way to keep talking about
the 17th, about the Scions and our challenge, and spread the word and honor all members of the 17th. 
  Melinda gathered some images and worked her magic.  We contacted Ed Siergiej and requested the logo for the Scions.  I didn't tell Ed much - just that "Mel is working on a project".  I wondered whether he would need to have a little more information...but within hours, we had the logo.  Mel tweaked and adjusted. 
Before long, we called it good and placed the order.
  Traveling to Lancaster, my carry-on bag was fairly lopsided, and I was anxious
to see how our only other partner-in-crime - Isaac Epps - would react at seeing
the end product.  So, on Monday, March 11th at the Bill Smith Varsity
Mini-Reunion, once most of the group had assembled and enjoyed a hearty Fulton
Steamboat Inn breakfast, it was time to finally share this with our 17th and Scion friends. Short story and pass out the first coins. I had 3 coins in my pocket.  The first coin was presented to my Dad - trooper John J. Schumacher. 
The next - it seemed only right - went to Colonel John Kormann.  The 3rd was
presented to Michele Smith to present to Bill Smith.  Members of the Scions
distributed to all of the 17th vets present.

Editors Note: It is our desire to make sure that we can give one of these beautiful coins to each 17th veteran that desires one. However, we have about 45 remaining from the initial order that Jeff has donated to the Scions. We are offering the coins for $15 each, two for $25, and asking that our members consider making a donation to help us raise the funds for the production of the next batch of coins. Another way to support this effort is to purchase two coins, one for yourself, and one to give to your 17th Airborne veteran. Details about how to purchase the coins are provided in this newsletter. 
Welecome New Scion Members

The Scions of the 17th Airborne are proud to welcome the following new members, who have joined our organization in January. As our membership grows, we can take on additional projects to honor our veterans and educate about the history of the 17th Airborne.

David Lockard - Son in law of Bill Keeler 513th

Grace Whitaker - Great Grand daughter of Richard Wise 194 C

Jacob Whitaker - Great Grandson of Richard Wise 194 C

Shirley Wolf - Wife of Bernard Wolf  680th

Linda Miller - Daughter of Warren Scott 681st GFA

Thanks for joining us to honor the men of the 17th Airborne! 
Chaplains Corner

by Isaac Epps


Hello all you Scions and anyone else interested---I am the Chaplain of the Scions of the 17th Airborne; and I want to reach out about something that is very basic to our mission. I want to encourage any of you who has a 17th Veteran in your family or in your heart and if you feel comfortable sharing; to let us know about health issues that they are facing; so that ...we may reach out to let them know we are caring and praying for them.
  One of our most important efforts when we get a Taps Notice is to attempt to represent the 17th Family at the funeral. We are reaching out to find volunteers who will be willing to stand there with the family to honor these heroes. If you feel moved to take on this effort; please contact Ed Siergiej at; and as the need arrises; we can contact you when there is a funeral near where you live. Thank you in advance for stepping up here.

Scions to Provide Wreaths for
17th Medal of Honor Recipients

by Ed Siergiej Jr
  One of the initiatives that was adopted at our annual business meeting in Arlington, VA this past November was to provide wreaths for the Medal of Honor Recipients each year on Memorial Day. Scion Chaplain, Isaac Epps will coordinate this project.
  We have already identified one Scion, Judy Foster Holland, to handle the details for Clinton Hedrick, who is buried in West Virginia. Our friend Jos Bex who is a member of the Margraten Memorial Group (MMG) has assured us that the grave of George Peters is always decorated for Memorial Day, along with all the other 17th veterans buried there.
  Isaac will coordinate locating sponsors for the remaining two recipients, Stewart Stryker, buried at the Golden Gate Nat. Cem. in San Bruno, CA, and Isadore Jachman, buried in the Adath Israel Anche Sfard Cemetery, in Baltimore, MD. If you live near any of these locations, and are able to assist in this effort, please contact us at "".
  Thanks to those who have become members of the Scions. Because of you, we have the funds to reimburse the expenses needed to provide these wreaths.

        21st Annual Reunion
        St. Clairsville, OH
           When: April 18 – April 21, 2013
           Where: Hampton Inn
            51130 National Road
           St. Clairsville, Ohio 43950
           Phone: 740-695-3961
        Rate:  $99.00 per night plus taxes (queen beds)
       Includes free hot & cold breakfast in lobby
When reserving your room, let them know you are with The 17th Airborne to get the rate of $99.00.
Hospitality room opens everyday at 12 noon and closes when the last person leaves.  We will provide ice, pop, liquor, scotch, wine, all paper products, munchies, snacks, coffee and tea. This year we are asking beer drinkers to bring their own beer.   It was difficult buying a variety of beers to satisfy every ones tastes.  Coolers and ice will be available to keep your beer cold.
Saturday night we will eat at Undo’s Restaurant. (On the third floor of the hotel)  As in the past we will order off the menu and each of us pay our own bill. (There is an elevator to take you to the third floor.)
This is a “no fuss” weekend.  Just an old-fashioned get together.
Please let us know if you are attending The Varsity Reunion.  If you are unable to attend, we would appreciate a note from you to read to your friends letting they know you are okay.
Airborne All The Way
     ( Jim) & Nancy Lauria                                                    Betty Rea
      1888 Micaela Ct.                                                            1117 Main St.
      Lakeview, N.Y. 14085                                                    Follansbee, WV. 26037
     716- 627 -5077                                                                  304-527-0567
17th Airborne Sales Items
Sales of the items below help to support the missions of the "Scions of the 17th Airborne", to honor the veterans of the 17th, and to keep the history of the Division alive.

Send your check to:

Scions of the 17th Airborne Division
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd
Danbury, CT 06811

Scion Coffee Mugs
Your beverage is guaranteed to taste better
in this Scions mug than in a canteen cup!

$16 each, including S&H in the U.S.A.
Scions Tee Shirts

We had a sample Tee shirt made up to display at the Lancaster Reunion, and got a great response from those who attended. As a result, we can offer this 100% Cotten Tee Shirt with the Scion logo, and the motto "Thunder From Heaven" on the front and the back. Available in sizes S, M, L, & XL for $22 each, size XL for $25 each.

Operation Varsity Reports Available
This 57 page document was produced by the 17th Airborne staff at the end of the war. Included are maps of Drop and Landing Zones, Status of each glider load after landing, Pre arranged artillary coordinates, and much more. 8.5" x 14". Great reading.
Available in hard copy for a donation of $22 ea.
or on a CD for $ 12 ea. Includes S&H in the U.S. 
Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne", 62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353
17th Airborne Challenge Coins
These beautiful, high quality,  challenge coins were developed by Scion Jeff Schumacher and his wife Melinda, as a tribute to the 17th Airborne. The coins have the 17th Airborne insignia on one side, and the Scions logo on the reverse side. Available for $15 each, two for $25. Any additional coins above the quantity of two would be $10 each. Includes S&H. Consider donating additional funds so that we can send these to as many of our veterans as possible, or buy two and give one to your special 17th veteran!
Scion Hats and Patches

Show your pride to be a Scion of the 17th Airborne Division
The sample hats that we had made up for the Lancaster, PA Operation Varsity gathering sold out very quickly, so we had some more made up. Available in Blue, Black, or Red, these hats have our Scion patch sewn on.
We also have additional Scion patches identical to those included in the packages sent to new members. 
A $ 25.00 donation requested for each hat.
The Patches are 3.5" H x 3" W and are available for $3.00 each.
Includes S&H in the U.S.
Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne", 62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353

Proceeds from the sale of these items help to support the mission of the Scions, to honor our veterans, and to tell the story of the 17th Airborne Division

Regular membership in the "Scions of the 17th Airborne" is open to any descendant, or family member of any trooper who served with the 17th during its existence. Our mission is to insure that the sacrifice and history of the 17th Airborne Division is not forgotten. All veterans of the 17th are considered as "Distinguished Honorary Members" of the Scions.
                            We exist to honor you, our veterans.

Contact the Scions at

We also have a great Facebook page, where there are lots of great posts by friends of the 17th in the U.S. and in Europe. Check us out on Facebook at "17th Airborne Division Scions (Descendants)"

The Scions also has a website up and running. The website is still under construction. We will have information on the history of the 17th, documents that are related to the 17th, a place to post copies of our newsletters, and other valuable information.

The website is located at:

Many thanks go out to Scion Danny Carter, who is assisting us in setting up the website!

Please consider passing this on to your children and grandchildren, if they are not already members. As our membership grows, we can take on new projects of value.

Rose Friday, daughter of Edward Friday (194th) - President
Michele Smith, daughter of Bill Smith (466th) - Vice President
Ed Siergiej Jr, son of Edward J. Siergiej (194th) - Sec./Tres.

Executive Committee:

Cindy Heigl - daughter of Tony Heigl (193rd)
Melanie Sembrat - daughter of Harry Sembrat (513th)
Robert Smith - brother of Levert L. Smith (194th)
Isaac Epps - son of Ralph Epps (194th)
Sent: Sun, Mar 24, 2013 3:14 pm
Subject: Remembering Varsity

Hello all dear friends,

Today the 24th of March we remembered operation Varsity again. It was a bloody cold and windy day with the cemetery all covered with 3 Inches of snow.

Tomorrow Flory and I (Joe) will accompany Melvin Lagoon and his family as he will visit the landing zones in Wesel and Hamminkeln. We will send you photos
of that tomorrow.

Kind regards,
Flory and Joe Somers

Dear Lilly and all our good friends,

Thank you for your kind message. It is hard to believe that 68 years have passed since that terror-filled time in the flak-filled skies over the Rhineland. As I sat in church this March 24, a Palm Sunday morning, I thought of all my comrades, who were lost on that day so long ago. "Operation Varsity" claimed 1,070 British and American troopers' lives and over 3,000 wounded. It was the worst day for the Allied Airborne in World War II.
But then I thought of what was accomplished in setting Europe free from a destructive tyranny and assisting it on the road to recovery. Your friendship and gratitude mean so much to those of us who fought. It places in context the sacrifices and the the accomplishments. It is my fervent hope, that as the years move on and we old veterans no longer are here, our friendship will continue through our children and their children. That is what I dreamed of when drafting the charter of the "Scions of the 17th Airborne" organization.
There is so much sadness and tragedy in the world today. America's and Europe's challenges are not as clear-cut as they were during the World War II years and at times our countries seem to lose their way. It is for this reason that we, you, I, and all of us, must continue to set before our people here and abroad the example of the "shining hours" that the war years and the recovery period were. Bless you all and keep up the good work.
John Kormann
Margraten Cemetery - March 1013

From: Joseph Bisscheroux
Date: March 25, 2013 8:46:48 AM EDT
To: Joe Quade
Subject: Varsity

Dear Mr.Quade,
Today we held our annual Varsity Ceremony.
Pierre Ackermans couldn’t be present because of backbone problems.
I had the honor to do the speech.
As you can see it was very cold.
The following photo’s were sent to me on face book.
This same day in Belgium was the Dead Mans Ridge Walk to remember the awful fight in the Ardennes in January 1945.
On the second photo you can see me while doing my speech, but more important are the children and their mother (their mother on the right) who listened with attention to what I told.
Photo Below - Joseph Bisscheroux giving his speach in the chapel at Margraten Cemetery
Because you might be interested in what I had to say here the English version.
Dear friends,
You all know that today we remember Operation Varsity.
It started 68 years ago on this day, March 24.
As you walked to this chapel you walked along the Wall Of the Missing.
On this Wall you also find the names of 3 troopers of the 17th Airborne Division.
They are Missing In Action since March 24 1945.
It was my intention to visit the graves of some troopers who became my friends to say “Hello”. I didn’t do this because I did not want to disturb the white snow blanket.
I guess that before you entered the chapel you looked over the Cemetery and said: “What a waste.”
You must know that 276 troopers of the 17th Airborne Division are interred here.
This means that today we think of 279 men.
You must know that 188 men are killed that first day of the Operation. March 24.
If we also count the troopers that were severely wounded and died some days later, this means about 70% of the troopers of the 17th we remember here.
Just swallow this (as we say here).
To give it a bitter taste I must tell you that the men who made the plans of this Operation said, as the balance was made up, that it turned out better than was expected.
Think of this as you listen to the high ranks as they speech on Memorial Day.
Last week I read on facebook about a lady who had made a “battle tour”.
It was on here initiative that she and her husband had visited the places and the battlefields where her husband had been.
Soon I could read in the comments that at least two more ladies had done their husband this proposal. The men refused and said that this should bring back memories who would be very painful for them.
As the Germans say: “Mann hat Solche und Solche.” (You have such and such)
From time to time you hear that children discovered the distinctions that were given to their dad. They never knew that their dad was a war hero.
I once read the story of a daughter.
She wrote: “We had a very good father, but he was different from the fathers of my friends. As we discovered his distinctions and letters I would like to go on the street and shout as loud as possible ‘My dad was not a grey mouse. He was a War Hero!’”
You must know that there are a lot of grey mice who suffered with the question “Why are my friends killed and why did I survive?”
I want them today standing in the spotlights.
This does not mean that I want to play down the roll of the troopers who very proud pin on their distinctions and say I was there.
But you must know Mann hat Solche und Solche.
I thank them all for liberating me.
All the Best,

Editors Note: The Scions express our deep gratitude to Joe Bisscheroux and all those who have devoted so much of thier lives to honor the fallen troopers of the 17th Airborne.
From Russ Osborn – 194 / C
Would like to get in touch with anyone from 194/C or anyone who remembers him.
Russ can be reached at
Hi Ed,
This probably isn't something you would be interested in for the Scions newsletter, but this is a picture of my dog, Champion Daybreak Varsity Jump, also know as "Talon". He was named in honor of my Dad, Don Phinney, 513PIR. We lost Dad 3 years ago but he will always live in the hearts of his family.
Talon achieved his AKC championship at the age of 2 and was a wonderful dog and Dad's favorite.
Thank you for all you do to keep the memories of the 17th alive.
Susan Foster
North Andover, MA

Editors Note: How could we not publish a letter about a Scion with a dog named "Talon"
From Scion Paul Griffith
I wrote the Scions a while back asking for any information about my father, but I did not include this information. Maybe it will help jog some memories that someone could share with me. He had a very difficult time discussing the war, so I did not get much of his story. Here is his photo (he is on the left) just prior to taking off from Acier. I don't know who the other gentleman is.

My father, Orville Griffith, Sgt. 513th PIR, went to Fort Benning, Georgia for parachute infantry training, which he completed on November 10, 1944. Subsequently, he completed training as a demolition specialist on December 2, 1944.

The following dates and locations are from his own pocket notebook he carried with him during the war. He created a calendar by drawing tiny squares on the blank pages and filling in the dates. He kept track of his movements on a daily basis.

2/07/45 arrive Glasgow (Scotland)
2/09/45 arrive South Hampton (England)
2/10/45 arrive Havre (France)
2/13/45 arrive New Chateau
2/16/45 arrive Chalons-sur-Marne
3/08/45 jump C-46 Chalons
3/20/45 leave Chalons for marshalling area (From his Discharge Qualification Record: “Served … in the European theatre of Operations with the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment as demolition specialist. Placed powder and dynamite in strategic positions to destroy bridges, radio towers and stations, roads and other vital enemy installations.”)
3/24/45 Jump at Wesel 1016
4/08/45 arrive Munster
4/11/45 leave Munster for Bach___au (hard to decipher) Ruhr Pocket
4/17/45 Cross Canal to Oberhausen
4/20/45 to Duisford
4/27/45 to Duislaken
5/07/45 Germany surrenders.
5/18/45 rest Unter-Oberhausen
5/25/45 ditto
6/5/45 leave Oberhausen

Sick Call

Joe Quade PM

Joe's daughter Kim has reported that Joe underwent heart surgery on March 28th, and is recovering in the hospital as of this writing. Cards may be sent to Joe at:
4 Cain Court
Montville, NJ 07045


William R. Shives 194 / A

Life Member William R. Shives (193 A) died Sept. 5, 2012.  Obituary and Guest Book information are included below.
 William R. Shives, 95, passed away September 5, 2012. He was born in Hancock, Maryland to the late John and Florence (Dawson) and lived most of his life in Akron and Cuyahoga Falls.

He was a U.S. Army Glider Infantry Sergeant in the 17th Airborne Division during World War II, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. In thanks for his service, he received the Purple Heart and three Bronze Stars.

William was also very active in the community. He was a Met Life insurance agent for 43 years and a 65-year member of the Adoniram Joppa Masonic Lodge # 517. He was a charter member of the Akron Amateur Softball Hall of Fame, belonged to the 82nd. Airborne Division Akron Chapter and was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church.

Finally, a crowning achievement for Bill was getting a hole-in-one at the age of 80.

The family would like to extend their sincere thanks to the doctors and nurses on Floor T-3 ICU at Akron City/Summa Hospital.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marjorie; sons, James (Julie) and Bill (Debbie); granddaughters, Jessica (Bryan) Clough, Jennifer (Eric) Martens and Jill (Brian) Swain; and four great-grandchildren (with a 5th due in December).

A private graveside service will be held at the convenience of the family at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery, with Rev. John Ballinger officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Summa Health Systems, T-3 ICU, 525 E. Market St., Akron, OH 44304 Please share your thoughts and condolences online at our website:

Vincent A. Mazza 139 / A

Life Member Vincent A. Mazza (139A) died April 2, 2011. The obituary is included in the link below.  Guest book has been archived.
Vincent A. Mazza, 86, of Baldwinsville, passed away peacefully at the Syracuse Home surrounded by his loving family. Mr. Mazza was a native of Liverpool. As a decorated WWII Army Airborne Veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart, Mr. Mazza was in the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity, the airborne assault on the Rhineland. After the war, Mr. Mazza returned home and along with his two brothers Sam and Frank founded a successful business called Mazza Brothers Builders. Mazza Brothers was widely known for quality residential construction, having built homes throughout the area for over 20 years. In 1972 Mr. Mazza joined OnBank and later became a Vice President of the bank's loan division until his retirement. He was a life member of the Disabled American Veterans.

Survivors include his wife, Dolores Mazza; daughter, Mary Mazza; sons, James (Rose) Mazza of Liverpool, Paul (Diane) Mazza of Liverpool and Philip (Kim) Mazza of Baldwinsville; sisters, Gertrude Plume of Syracuse, Yolanda Corso of Liverpool and Rose Marie Mazza of Liverpool; eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services and burial were held. Pirro & Sons Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Condolences may be offered at www.pirroandsonsfuneral Donations in Vincent's name can be made to The Ronald McDonald House at 1027 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, NY 13210, phone 315-476-1027.
Joseph Glawson 513 / H

Life Member Joseph Glawson (513H) died April 3, 2012. The brief death notice includes a guest book for
condolence messages.
Joseph Glawson
(December 28, 1923 - April 3, 2012)

A Service for Mr. Joseph Glawson was held in the chapel Friday, April 6, 2012 at 11am. Visitation Thursday evening from 5-8pm. Interment to follow at Forest Hills Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Sacred Journey Hospice,138 Peach Drive,McDonough, GA 30253
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