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 families can gather, and by sharing their recollections.  We communicate with our membership using this "Thunder From Heaven" newsletter, through 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 # 24 - September 2014
Please send us your 17th related news items, stories, questions etc., so that we can share them with the entire group. You may direct your mail to the Scions at:
Adam Coolong & Ed Siergiej Jr.- Editors
Visit our Facebook page at:

17th Airborne Division Scions (Descendants)

Post your 17th related photos, stories and questions.
In This Newsletter
-   John Magill's 2007 Address at Hampton, VA Reunion

-   Scions Historian Paul Madden trip to Europe

-   Scions 2014 Gathering Schedule

-   Plan now for the Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington National

    Scions to Invade Europe in 2015
    by Jeff Schumacher

-   Scions Memorial Fund
     by Ed Siergiej Jr.

-   Welcome New Scion Members

-   Chaplain's Corner
     by Isaac Epps, Scion Chaplain

-   Proposed Scions Bylaw Change
     by Ed Siergiej Jr - Secretary / Treasurer

Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom

- Letters From Home and Abroad

-  Sick Call


-  17th Airborne Online Store

-   Become a Member of the Scions of the 17th Airborne
Book Now to Attend our Gathering at Arlington, VA for Veterans Day Ceremonies
If you have not booked the hotel yet for our gathering at Arlington, this is the time to make sure you get our low room rate! See the details further down in this newsletter. 
 Do You Know of a Veteran Who Does Not Use Email?
Each month this newsletter, "Thunder From Heaven" goes out to almost 500 members of the 17th Airborne family.  We know that some of our veterans no longer use, or have never used email.  Scion Kerri Whitaker, grand daughter of Richard L. Wise (194/C), has volunteered to send hard copies of the newsletter to our veterans each month, and has been doing so for a number of months now. 
 If you know of a veteran who would like a copy of the newsletter, please let us know, and we will add them to the list.
Just send an email to:
Help the Scions to Provide This Newsletter to Our Veterans Who Do Not Use Email
Our list of veterans who are getting this newsletter in a hard copy format is growing as our organization grows. Up to this point the cost of printing copies of the newsletter and mailing it has been donated by one of our Scions. However as the list grows the organization will need to offset these costs. Please consider making a donation to support this effort.

 Donations can be sent to us at the address below. Please note that the gift is earmarked to support the newsletter.

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


Scions of the 17th Airborne Receives
Tax Exempt Status

By Ed Siergiej Jr., Secretary / Treasurer
After about 16 months, the Scions of the 17th Airborne has received 501c3 Tax Exempt Status, as a Public Charity,  from the IRS.
Bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts to the Scions are deductible under Section 170 of the IRS code. 
We have received a very generous donation to the Memorial Fund from
Col. John Kormann.  Thank you Colonel!
 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:

Dr. John Magill's 2007 Address
submitted by Isaac Epps

Anyone who ever knew or had spent time with Dr. John F. Magill (466HQ) could not come away without being moved. He was a dedicated educator, an author; a family man, a deeply loving husband, an untiring advocate for the 17th Airborne, and a most passionate speaker. He was a compassionate man who took every opportunity to make a difference.
Often he was the speaker at the 17th Association Reunion Memorial Service; and he left few with dry eyes.
In 2007, at the Association's final reunion in Hampton, VA, he again took to the podium and delivered a stirring message. When he passed and went to Glory on October 31, 2013, we all lost a dear friend and a strong voice for his beloved 17th Airborne Division.
Following is the text of that message, reprinted from the final edition of Joe Quade's fine Thunder From Heaven hard copy publication.

Thank you for the honor and the privilege of speaking again as we HONOR THOSE WHO GAVE IT ALL!!
WHO WERE WE AND WHO ARE WE?? We were a diverse group of kids from all over the United States who were intrigued with the notion of belonging to the Pioneer and Premier soldiers of WWII, who would be trained to land behind the lines in gliders or by parachute, whose mission would be to exact a terrible toll and whose motto was "THE DIFFICULT WE DO IMMEDIATELY, THE IMPOSSIBLE TAKES A LITTLE LONGER".

 We are the remnants of a Great Division, the 17th Airborne, often overlooked in passing out the laurels; we were part of the three division mobile force that moved from England to the Western Front after the massive German break-through in Belgium, plugging the three greatest threats to the Allied Line; there in the coldest winter in decades, we lightly-armed troopers had to stop the sixty ton Tiger tanks as they moved from the Bastogne area in their new drive for Antwerp on the North Sea. For three days in the beauty of the Belgian Hemlocks, we shed our blood in the virgin, pristine snow BUT WE STOPPED THEM!! BUT, OH GOD AT WHAT A PRICE!! JOINED BY OUR BLACK BROTHERS OF THE 761st, (Tank Battalion) WE WENT ON THE OFFENSIVE: HOUFFALIZE AND TENS OF BELGIAN TOWNS WERE LIBERATED, THEN ON TO LUXEMBOURG UNTIL FEBRUARY.
 As we returned to Chalons, France with our heavy losses, we were finally able to mourn. In the safety of our tent city I would wake, sobbing convulsively.  The initial psychological adjustment to front-line combat duty is a massive thing. Such an adjustment demanded more than mere training and the "esprit de corps". It drew on every bit of reserve, stability, and faith that a man possessed. The first twenty-four hours were the critical ones. First comes the unique stench of war. I can't describe it, except that it included the smell of burned-out buildings and bodies. Dead horses and cattle were everywhere, grotesque in their rigid state. Next came the sprawled, inert forms of German dead--frightening but still somewhat impersonal. But then, as we moved ever closer to the front, I encountered the first American dead. I couldn't seem to avoid the open, unseeing eyes of the young, olive-drabbed boys who had not yet been picked up by the burial detail. This was not death as I had remembered it where the dead were respected. This was the raw, devastating by-product of war with no reverence and no respect.
We, in the forward observer sections and the Airborne infantry, moved through the existing lines of the armored division which we were relieving. The last few "surviving" Sherman tanks pulled back, leaving us (lightly-armed Airborne) to face the Panzer strength of Von Runstedt's armored drive alone. With small arms, bazookas, and hand-fashioned grenades we would be pitted against the sixty ton monster tanks. The medics were angels of mercy. The periodic shelling of the positions by the German 88's created heavy casualties from the devastating tree bursts. The cries of the wounded, "Medic, Medic" sent these heroic men scampering everywhere. With the cries of the wounded still ringing in my ears, I tried to get some rest in the bitterly cold foxhole. The Germans had mined the roads so we had no hot food or blankets. The weather had remained extremely cold and overcast, keeping the American support planes grounded; there didn't seem to be any sort of relief in sight.
I gazed up into the overcast night sky and wondered if anyone was receiving my "vibrations" of anxiety. Somehow I received "the word" that Mom's prayers had been heard. "Oh God", I whispered, "no one can really knows the horror and the loneliness of front line combat except those who have seen it".

 As I emerged from my foxhole in the early dawn, I was electrified by a sight both horrifying but poignant. A medic who had moved out during the night to minister to a wounded comrade had been killed by an incoming shell. Frozen by the bitter cold, he was in the unforgettable position of leaning over the comrade whom he had tried to save, the large medical bandage  still clutched in his lifeless hand. I realized sadly that this act of heroism would not be recorded in man's book but there was a consolation in the knowledge that it would be noted by God. "Greater Love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend".
For three horrible, brutal days we took everything the German could throw at us. We still had no air support. The casualties in the infantry and forward observer units were appalling. Only my friend Ed and I remained as active forward observers. Our Division  had lost three thousand men (killed, missing, and wounded) in the three day period. The weather continued to be terrible, the visibility almost zero. Then a strange, almost enigma-like event took place.
General George S. Patton, colorful commander of the Third American Army and equally famous for his colorful language issued his famous prayer: "Sir, I have never been an unreasonable man. I am not going to ask You for the impossible. I do not even insist upon a miracle, for all I request is four days of clear weather. Give me four clear days of clear weather so that my planes can fly; so that my fighter bombers can bomb and strafe, so that my reconnaissance may pick out targets for my magnificent artillery. Give four days of sunshine so that my tanks can roll, and that ammunition and rations may be taken to my hungry, ill-equipped infantry. I need these four days to send Von Runstedt and his Godless army to their Valhalla. I am sick of this unnecessary butchery of American youth. Amen."
In twenty four hours, the skies had cleared and hundreds of our planes were supporting our efforts and saving hundreds of American lives!!

Some fifty-two days after our entry into combat, the remnants of our Division were on the road back to the peaceful fields of Chalons-sur-Marne in France. As we made our way back I tried to put things into some kind of reasonable perspective. Nearly one-half of our Division numbers had been casualties of the horrible Battle of the Bulge (frozen feet, trench foot, wounded, or killed). We had met and feared Panzers of the enemy, not only stopping them but then pushing them back. The realization of this accomplishment was pitted against the personal sacrifice that had been rendered by my friends that had stopped the Nazi hordes.  I prayed, "God, I wish someone could tell Roy's mother and all the other mothers just what their sons had done. Somehow, it might help with the horrible heartbreak and the emptiness. THEY GAVE EVERYTHING THEY HAD FOR THEIR COUNTRY AND THEIR BUDDIES".
Our unique role in the Bloodiest but most Successful Airborne Operation in the War--was OPERATION VARSITY (Ike's quotation). We and our British 6th Airborne comrades faced some 80,000 Germans east of the Rhine. What a sacrifice on our part!! But only a few historians have acknowledged that the slaughter of men coming across the Rhine without our landing, and our perimeter defense WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME.

I want to close with the paraphrased words of a young Dutch girl who stepped to the podium in Margraten Cemetery in Holland and there in the midst of thousands of white gleaming crosses and signs of the Star of David, she uttered these priceless words:

Farewell good buddies, and God Bless
John F. Magill, Jr.
THE PURSUIT-2nd Armored in Europe 2014
                                       By Paul Madden 

I along with two friends from Texas participated in the 2nd Armored in Europe "The Pursuit" trip in Northern France. It comprised of a 10 day event (Aug 27 thru Sept  6 2014) that took us from the village of Lihons to Bray-sur-Somme, Péronne, Flers and Cambrai, passing though numerous smaller villages along the way. We were representing several units of the 2nd Armored Division who liberated this area end of August and beginning September 1944: 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 17th Armored Engineer Battalion and 48th Armored Medical Battalion; with a photographic team, war correspondent and a  American Red Cross clubmobile.
We rode in authentic WWII USA Halftracks, Jeeps and GMC 2 1/2 trucks across the fields and roadways of France. There were also several meet up's with WW2 2nd Armored Veterans, local people and authorities, parades and ceremonies along the way. We dug foxholes, slept on the ground under tarps that hung off the side of our halftracks, had off road movements ( we did about 80 miles strictly off road through farmland and horse trails) and fought through German resistance that tried to block our movements. Even had a Red Cross Clubmobile that had a couple of Donut Dollies who served hot coffee and donuts at various stops we made. 
The 2nd AD is a UK based association with members from all the world. For this trip, we had more than 150 participants coming from about 10 countries (UK, USA, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Norway, Poland, Russia and France). We also had about 30 people reenacting the German troops, coming from Germany, Netherlands and France.

Members of 2nd Armored are part of the best living history groups in Europe and in the USA. All members are highly motivated to represent as close as possible the WW2 American soldier and they have the highest standards in WW2 living history. Strict authenticity at all levels is required from all participants This goes for all details, from the marking of the vehicles to the correct uniforms of the 2nd AD soldiers and personal items like proper toiletry kit articles.

I've been involved in re-enacting and Living History events for a long time and this was by far the truest way to live the experience of the WWII American GI in NW Europe during summer of 1944. I met many people from all over the States and Europe who come from different background and careers but have that one thing in common. The love of WWII history. It's a universal bond and will have life long friends because of a shared experience. I even met several who have been on the Dead Mans Ridge walks. The following are several pictures of the trip. 

Editors Note - Paul Madden, son of Hal Madden (680/A Battery) is our Scions Historian, as well as a WWII re-enactor.

Scion 2014-15 Gathering Schedule
In this section of the newsletter we will post information on both annual and regional gatherings, so we can reserve the time in our schedules. We will keep this schedule updated each month.

 If you are planing a 17th Airborne related event, let us know, and we will post it below.

Arlington VA Gathering

November 2014

Each year, the Scions gather in Arlington, VA. for ceremonies at the memorial to the 17th at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremonies are scheduled for Monday, November 10th. Our ceremony is a part of a wonderful program organized by the Ruben Tucker chapter of the 82nd Airborne Div. Assoc. After these ceremonies are over, the Scions travel over to the National World War II Memorial, and lay another wreath at the "Airborne Relief" at the Memorial. 

 For those who are interested, this year, we will again return to the U.S. National Archives in College Park, MD to scan documents related to the 17th. If you are interested in participating in this visit, contact us at:,  to sign up. Due to the location of the Archives and DC traffic, those attending will probably stay at a hotel closer to the Archives for November 7th and 8th. 

Schedule - 

November 7th - Research at the U.S. National Archives - College Park, MD

November 8th - Research at the U.S. National Archives - College Park, MD

November 9th - Check in to hotel

November 10th - Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and National WWII Memorial

November 11th - Check out of hotel 

As more details are finalized, we will post them here.

Accommodations - 
This year, we have selected the "Marriott Courtyard Arlington Pentagon South" as our base of operations. We have a block of rooms reserved at this hotel at a special rate of $109/night. This rate includes breakfast for up to two people per room. Please make your reservations by following the following link provided by the hotel: 

Marriott Courtyard Arlington Pentagon South

4641 Kenmore Avenue,  Alexandria  VA  22304 

Start date: 11/9/14

End date: 11/11/14

Last day to book by: 10/17/14

Marriott hotel(s) offering your special group rate:

  • Courtyard Alexandria Pentagon South  for $109.00 per night


Scions to Invade Europe in 2015!
March 18 - 29, 2015 
September 2014 Update:

Scions Trip 2015

Greetings fellow Scions! With this message, we begin the official announcement and countdown to the Operation Varsity 70th Anniversary remembrance, and invite you to travel to where it all happened in the winter and spring of 1945.

The Trip in General: Scions European Theater of Operations (ETO) 2015 is planned for March 18th through March 29th, 2015. The itinerary will have us gathering upon arrival at Brussels International Airport on Thursday morning, March 19th, 2015 (that means departing the US on Wednesday the 18th).

From there, we will travel to Bastogne and the Belgian Ardennes for welcome, meet & greet, battlefield tours, Belgian hospitality, and where we will see where history was made in the winter of ‘44/45. Morhet, Houmont, Flamièrge, Dead Man's Ridge, Mande-Saint-Etienne, Compogne, Houffalize, Renuamont, Millamont, Hubermont and the surrounding area. You will enjoy the scenic beauty of the Ardennes- and realize that you are in the very footsteps of our fathers, uncles, grandfathers and the many others of the 17th who were the Battle of the Bulge, and on Dead Man’s Ridge (like above!).

After the weekend in the Bastogne and surrounding area, we will travel to Wesel, Germany. It was in this area where on March 24th, 1945, there was indeed Thunder From Heaven as Operation Varsity and the Rhine crossing went into full swing. We will be there on that day plus 70 years to see and remember as well. We’ll tour the Drop and Landing Zones in the Wesel and Hamminkeln area, travel the route of the 17th Airborne in the days immediately after Varsity including a visit to Munster.

We will visit the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, as well as the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial (Hamm Cemetery) iLuxembourg City, where - between these two cemeteries - over 400 troopers from the 17th are buried.

We will visit monuments and markers - some old and some quite new - but all testaments to those who remember our vets.

Be prepared to experience 10 days of unforgettable events, walk on hallowed ground where many of our beloved 17th vets fought, and where some lay at rest. You will witness the remembrance and ceremony of a grateful people, who - even after 70 years - will thank our vets, shake their hands, honor them and remember the service and sacrifice which secured their liberty.


Upon arrival in Brussels, the group will travel from Brussels to Bastogne, through and around the Belgian Ardennes, to Margraten, Wesel, Hamminkeln, Munster, back to Belgium, Luxembourg City, and return to Brussels aboard a motor coach capable of comfortably accommodating our group with all luggage. Local battlefield touring in Wesel/Hamminkeln will by via smaller vehicle (due to roadway limitations). Transport via coach is included in the cost.


Hotel accomodations during the trip - in Belgium and Germany - are included in the cost. Lodging will be at hotels known and recommended by our local ‘boots on the ground’ hosts and coordinators, and selected for convenience and comfort during our travels. Base costs reflect double occupancy - 2 travelers/room. The upcharge for single occupancy - 1 traveler/room is also provided.


Breakfast will be included at the hotels, and most evening meals are included. Most lunches are also included, with lunch on the road several days as we travel from place to place.

Places and Events Schedule

There will be plenty to see and do every day, as well as some time to rest, relax and enjoy the local hospitality. You will have the chance to tour the battlefields, see museums & monuments, as well as the Ardenne forest and the Peace Woods. You’ll encounter city sights and countryside charm, experience times of reflection and for celebration. You’ll reconnect with old friends and make new ones as we tour the Landing and Drop Zones, cemeteries and memorials. You can expect moments of emotion along the way - tears and joy - as you witness gratitude, respect, remembrance and honor, and you will definitely enjoy some surprises along the way. This promises to be an experience you will never forget!

The Cost:

Cost per traveler based on double occupancy lodging is $1,800 (USD), excluding air fare. The upcharge for single occupancy lodging is $300 (USD). Note that all pricing/quotations were received were in Euros. The cost in USD is at the current exchange rate. (Some fluctuation can be expected, but significant changes are not anticipated.)

Deposits and Payments:

The schedule for deposits and payments is as follows:
• A $600 per traveler deposit is needed no later than November 1st (2014). This will serve to get a firm grasp on ‘how many’ travelers we will have.
• Your second installment of $600 per traveler will be due no later than December 15th, 2014. This will be your commitment: “I’m in!”.
• The final installment for the remainder for all travelers will be due no later than February 1, 2015 (6 weeks prior to departure).

We will need a minimum of 30 travelers to make the trip viable at the costs identified. (In the unlikely event there are not sufficient travelers to make the trip viable - deposits will be returned.)

• Full payment: Payment-in-full at any point along the way (before February 1) is welcome. However, because we have solicited discounted costs from service providers, an additional early payment discount is not offered.

What’s not included?

a) Air Travel is not included. As suggested by several parties of fellow travelers, it will be most convenient for travelers to make their own air travel reservations to/from Brussels. Plan your arrival at Brussels International Airport (BRU) for the morning of March 19th, and your return trip home on Sunday, March 29th. (Optionally, you can of course plan to arrive earlier and/or stay later - but the Scions ETO 2015 trip itinerary and accommodations will start on March 19th at Brussels International Airport, and wind up with our Saturday night stay in Brussels (near the airport) on the 28th to make for convenient departures the next day (Sunday the 29th). (Any travel, lodging or other accommodations outside that time frame is at your option to plan on your own.)

b)  Travel Insurance - please make arrangements for Travel or Trip Cancellation Insurance with your airline or travel agent.

c)  Bar tabs and alcoholic beverages. Beverages are generally included with all planned meals, but wine/beer/cocktails will be at our expense.

d) Museum entrance fees. We will visit several museums to which entrance fee is charged. Some of these visits will be during times when some travelers may opt for ‘down time’ to relax, shop, or venture on their own, so it was thought best to handle these on a ‘pay as we go’ basis.

Cancellation? Unforeseen things can happen. In the event you must cancel, we will make every effort to refund as much of your funds as possible, but cannot guarantee full refund. Please bear in mind that when securing commitments abroad - especially for lodging and transportation - we will have to provide deposits as well, and commit to certain levels of service. It is for this reason that 100% refund may not be possible. To lessen your risk, when making your airline reservtions please give serious consideration to buying Travel Insurance - (sometimes called trip cancellation insurance).

There are many exciting details yet to come for the trip. And, as with any trip of this nature, there will be questions, and preparations for each of us to make (passports, confirm insurance coverages, pre-travel checklist, etc.). We will work through these as we prepare for a fantastic and memorable trip to the European Theatre of Operations.

What To Do Next:

  1. Confirm your intent to make the journey! Send me an email ( confirming the names and approximate ages of all travelers. Include any other contact information you care to include (which will not be distributed).

  2. Note: All funds received will be accounted for specifically for the trip. All sources of funding and expenditures will be reviewed by Scions Treasurer to ensure all is above board. Contact Jeff Schumacher at the email above for deposit and payment options.

  3. If you have an odd number of travelers or are a single traveler, please indicate whether you would consider room sharing. This is not a commitment to share - only a preliminary indication of who might be willing to do so. (We’ll pursue additional details once we get a tally on single travelers.)

  4. Start planning your trip! No need to pack your bag yet, but start your planning early while there is plenty of time.

  5. Watch your email for updates and additional information as we continue to gather steam.

  6. Stay in touch!

Scions Memorial Fund
by Scion Secretary / Treasurer Ed Siergiej Jr.

The "Scions of the 17th Airborne Memorial Fund"  has been set up as a seperate account with the specific purpose of supporting activities that honor the memory of our veterans who have passed on. Some examples of how these funds will be used are as follows:
  • Providing wreaths for our annual ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Providing wreaths for the four Medal of Honor recipients on Memorial Day.
  • Funding for the cards sent to the families of veterans who have passed on.

Contributions in memory of a 17th Veteran, or any group of 17th Veterans
(Such as Co F, 513th, for example)  may be made to this fund by so designating.

Contributions can be made to:

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

The Scions of the 17th Airborne, gratefully acknowledges the generous donations to our Memorial Fund in Memory of Bill Smith, by the following individuals during the past month:
Shirley Wolf
In memory of her father, Glider Pilot Lee Whitmire
Patricia Overman

 Donations to the Scions Memorial Fund are deductible under Section 170 of the IRS code.
Welcome New Scion Members

The Scions of the 17th Airborne are proud to welcome the following new members, who have joined our organization this month. As our membership grows, we can take on additional projects to honor our veterans and educate about the history of the 17th Airborne.
Terri Leyda Gebler
Daughter of Wayne F. Leyda (194th)
Vermilion, OH

Kirk Beaubien
Grandson of Bernard Beaubien (194th)
Iowa Falls, IA
Proposed Change to Scion Bylaws
by Ed Siergiej Jr
Secretary / Treasurer 

The Scion organization has grown considerably since our founding in 2011. As we have grown, we have been able to spread out the work of operating the organization, which also helps us to better serve the needs of the organization. Some of the changes made in the last year are:

Scion Paul Madden, son of Hal Madden (680th A Battery) has offered to take on the role of Historian

Scion Adam Coolong, grandson of Charles E. Booth (680th HQ) has agreed to take the point on the Newsletter and also the Coordinator of the material mined from the National Archives

Scion Chuck Katz, son of John Katz (194th GIR) has offered to serve as a legal adviser to the organization. 

With these important roles established, it has been suggested that we make two changes to the Bylaws.

1. Increase the number of members on the Executive Committee from 8 to 15 Scions.
The existing 8 seats on the Executive Committee are filled by:

President - Currently - Rose Friday
Vice President - Currently - Michele Smith
Seceratary / Treasurer - Currently - Ed Siergiej Jr.
Chaplain - Currently - Isaac Epps
Melanie Sembrat
Cindy Heigl
Robert Smith

The proposed change is to "Add 7 seats on the Executive Committee to make a total of 15, providing seats for:

Newsletter Editor - Currently - Adam Coolong
Historian - Currently - Paul Madden
Legal Adviser - Currently - Chuck Katz
Membership Committee Chair
Recording Secretary
(3) At Large positions

2. "Change the name of the "Executive Committee" to "Board of Directors"

As required by our existing Bylaws, we are communicating these proposed changes in our newsletter from April to November 2014. 
We are accepting comment on the proposed changes. Those who would like to comment on these changes can contact us by email at:, or by mail at:
Scions of the 17th Airborne
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd.
Danbury, CT 06811

The changes will be discussed and voted on at our next meeting in Arlington, VA in November.

Ed Siergiej Jr
Seceratary / Treasurer
April 30, 2014
Minutes of the Annual Meeting Held in Lancaster, PA

by Ed Siergiej Jr. & Melanie Sembrt

Attached are links to the Minutes of our Annual Meeting, as well as Secretary's and Treasurer's Reports. Many thanks to Scion Melanie Sembrat for acting as recording secretary.

Click here to read the Minutes from the meeting.

Click here to read the Secretary's Report from the meeting.

Click here to read the Treasurer's Report from the meeting. 

Dear Scions,
Some of you may already know us, some of you may not. That is why we would like to introduce ourselves (again).
The Margraten Memorial Group 17-th Airborne (MMG 17-th Airborne) was started some years ago initiated by Mr. Pierre Ackermans & Mr. Joseph Bisscheroux. They already knew Mr. Joep Somers & Mrs. Flory Somers and later they got to know Mr. John Smeets and Mr. Luc Horck. We got together and started organizing a group. Our goal was and still is to keep alive the memory of the soldiers of the 17-th Airborne Division, their actions to restore our freedom and the price they have paid while doing this. In doing so we, of course, also honor you: their families and relatives.
We would like to remember and honor all those involved with the 17-th Airborne Division with as many people as possible. Most if not all of our group have adopted a grave of a 17-th Airborne trooper at Margraten. Adoption means that several times a year flowers will be placed at the adopted grave. Also we hold a ceremony each year on the Sunday closest to March 24-th to remember the start of operation Varsity. Other activities include attending Memorial Day, organizing Battlefield Tours and attending activities from our Belgian 17-th Airborne friends.
At this moment "official" functions (without forgetting everyone who has adopted a grave) are held by the following people:
- chairman: mr. John Smeets
- secretary-treasurer: mr. Luc Horck
- senior advisors / members: mrs. Flory Somers, mr. Joep Somers, mr. Joseph Bisscheroux and mr. Pierre Ackermans
- Battlefield Tour expert: mr. Jos Bex
- junior advisors / members: mr. Wesley Haex, mr. Tom Verheyden, mr. Ralph Peeters, mr. Erwin Flohr
We are very proud to be involved with the 17-th Airborne and will keep on doing our share, however small, to keep alive their memory.
Yours sincerely,
MMG 17-th Airborne
the Netherlands
PS: you might also want to take a look at our Facebook page Margraten Memorial Group
Luc Horck

Editors Note - The "Scions of the 17th Airborne" are grateful for the dedication of this fine group of friends. Whenever a family member of one of our fallen troopers has wanted to visit Margraten Cemetery, the MMG has welcomed them with open arms, and helped them in every way possible.

Sick Call

Mike Rock (680B) is home from the hospital and recovering from a bout with sepsis.

I'm sure it would really cheer him up to get some get well cards from all of us - sent to his home address is best as his daughter Diane visits daily.Thanks.
Mike's address is;
 Mike Rock
70 Gasko Road
Mays Landing, NJ 08330


by Isaac Epps

   The ones who went
   Were truly sent
   To do a Noble Deed;
   When evil showed
   They took the load
   In Justice, they believed.
   They heard the call
   And gave their All
   And some did not not come back.
   They knew the chance

   But took the stance
   When Liberty was attacked.
   It Speaks of Duty, Faith; and Love;
   It speaks of a respect
   for Country; For Others,
   For the Right of Man;
   To forget would be neglect.
   On this Their Day

   We stop to pray
   Their Memory shall live;
   The sacrifice they made was Life.
   What more can someone Give?
Standing Guard

Submitted by Dominic Biello
Peter James Blakney Sr.

Peter James Blakney Sr., 83 years old, died 25 April 2008, at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Peter was born 17 November 1924 to Francis and John Harold Blakney in Evanston, Ill. and moved to Verona, New Jersey in 1934. As a member of America's Greatest Generation he was a Sergeant in the 17th Airborne Division, 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company F. He saw service in the European Theater during World War II from December 1944 to January 1945, fighting courageously against Axis forces in the Battle of the Bulge under General George S. Patton. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat and the Bronze Star for valor in action against the enemy. Peter married Mary Pew Burton on 10 February 1950 in Verona, New Jersey and remained devoted to her throughout 58 years of marriage. As an active member of the community Peter served in numerous Director positions for the Eagle Rock Council, Boy Scouts of America, the Montclair Volunteer Ambulance Unit, the Montclair Counseling Center and as Special Gifts Chairman of the North Essex United Way Campaign. As a professional, Peter was an account executive for the brokerage firm owned by his Father-in-Law, Benjamin T. Burton, providing investment counseling to institutional and individual accounts. He was a Member of the New York Stock Exchange. At the Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, Peter Blakney chaired the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market, worked for the Guild Speakers Bureau, Heard Museum Curatorial and the Heard Museum Shop. Peter thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Civil War. He was an avid fly-fisherman and skeet shooter. He had a brief road rally career in Germany after the war. Peter was an accomplished model-maker, a competitive bridge player and held a private pilot's license for many years. He was also a devoted opera fan. He loved to cook and transferred this talent for cooking to his three sons. Survivors include his sons: Peter James Blakney Jr., wife Kathy, daughter Robin, son Andrew. John Christian Blakney. Thomas Glenn Blakney, daughter Daisy and son Erik. Greyhounds: (Devil's) Pawn, Over (Your Head), (Aquavit) George. A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, August 15th at 1:00 PM. The service will take place in the Chapel of Valley Presbyterian Church, 6947 E. McDonald Drive, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253-5342. It will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Marilyn Manning, Associate Pastor with Organist Dr. Guy Whatley. The family requests that anyone considering a donation please make it in Peter James Blakney Sr.'s name to the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Ave. Phoenix AZ 85004. Arrangement by A.L Moore Grimshaw Mortuary.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Aug. 10, 2008
- See more at this link. 

John E. Smith  “Smitty”

Life Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

John Edward Smith, 92, died at 4:15 a.m. on March 27th, 2003 at Englewood Care Center.  He was born in Springfield, Ohio on July 12th, 1910, the son of Edward T. and Mary (Grimm) Smith.  In 1934, he married the love of his life, Mary Schafer (“Toody”).  He worked as a master plumber until receiving his draft notice in March of 1943 at the age of 32.  He was assigned to the 193rd Glider Infantry Unit, AT (anti-tank).

After a year and a half of training in North Carolina, Tennessee, and England, Johnny saw his first combat during the Battle of the Bulge.  Following this combat service, his 193rd was disbanded and rolled into the 194th GIR and set about preparing for Operation Varsity.  On March 24th, 1945, along with Peter Kolba and James Penner, Johnny flew in glider #132 over the Rhine and into Germany.  After securing the area around Wesel, Johnny saw additional action in Munster, Hamm, Warstein, Mulheim, Dortmund, Essen, and the Ruhr Pocket.

On April 24th, he was promoted to sergeant.  After V-E Day, Johnny took residence in a former Gestapo headquarters in Mulheim and took to his occupational duties.  Now a staff sergeant, Johnny was tasked with protecting surrounding farms from looting.  Two of the farms he protected belonged to Ernst Tubben and Wilhelm Krampe, both of whom he kept in contact with after he returned home.  Johnny used Wilhelm’s son, Friedrich, as an interpreter and the two continued an overseas friendship, exchanging letters for the next 50 years.

In July of 1945, while stationed in Luneville, France, Johnny received a pass to visit the Riviera Recreational Area.  Upon his return, he went to Camp Twenty-Grand in Le Havre and awaited his transport back to the States, the S.S. Jackson – with action against Japan in his future.  Somewhere over the Atlantic, he learned of the surrender of the Japanese.  He arrived at Camp Shanks, N.Y. and then went to Camp Atterbury, Indiana. 

After an extended furlough, he was officially discharged in October and returned to being a plumber.  Johnny was also a master gardener, a skilled magician, and an accomplished photographer.  He took over 200 photos during his time in service, many of them in color.  Most of his photos are of his fellow soldiers and of the many faces he came across in postwar Europe.  He was a life-time member of the 17th Airborne Division Association and attended some of the annual reunions.  He kept in touch with some of his closest Army buddies and shared many of his photos with them.  He will forever be our hero.    
James J. Deignan


James J., Age 90, passed away on Mother's Day, May 12th, 2013. Jim is survived by his Sister Peg Lyons, Brother-in-law, Frank Lyons, Niece, Rosemary Lyons, and Nephew, Francis Lyons. His late sister, Mary, passed away in 2003. His beautiful Southern Belle and beloved wife, Nellie, passed away in 2007. Jim's parents were Irish Immigrants. His mother, Mary, arrived as an indentured servant for County Cavan, and his father, John, from County Leitrim, and spent his life as a police officer in Providence, RI. During World War 2, Jim was one of the few survivors of Company C, 139th Airborne Engineer Battalion, the 17th Airborne Division. His Army Separation Record says that Jim jumped 14 times, gliding 5 times, into Enemy Occupied Territory, capturing and holding enemy positions, and earning numerous Battle Stars. Jim witnessed, first hand, the savagery of the Nazi and the SS, but, Jim never spoke about the horrors of the War, or his service to our Country. A devout Catholic, Jim could not understand why God allowed the War to happen, and became a Monk in the Order of the Cisterians, and with the other Monks, Jim worked in the fields of Massachusetts and prayed daily. After 7 years, the Monastery was closed due to an outbreak of TB. Being a Vet, Jim was put on a train and sent to sunny Florida and Bay Pines Hospital. After spending a year convalescing, Jim became a Letter Carrier, and married his beautiful Southern Belle, Nellie. Yankee Jim, as a Letter Carrier, Committeeman, and lifetime member of the "National Association of Letter Carriers," Jim helped desegregate the Letter Carriers Union, and happily embraced the Southern Social ostracizing that followed. Jim always believed that the job belonged to the best man. Jim was an exceptional athlete, became a scratch golfer, and enjoyed his latter years watching on Cable TV the Catholic and Golf channels, which he thought was a miracle from God. Jim was a "man's" man. A true role model to all the men and women that knew him. Jim always wanted to help anyone that counseled with him. A lifelong Parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church, with many friends at St. Patricks, Jim will be truly missed by all! On Friday, May 31st, a Visitation will be held at 9 AM, at Christ the King Catholic Church. A Rosary will be said at 9:30 AM, and a Funeral Mass will be held at 10 AM. Jim will be interred at the Veteran's Cemetery in Bushnell, Fl. In lieu of flowers, Please make a Donation to either Christ the King Catholic Church, or St. Patrick's Catholic Church.

Ingman A. Stolen

513th PIR

"MADISON" Ingman A. Stolen, age 95, of Madison, passed away peacefully on Oct. 3, 2014, at Agrace HospiceCare in Fitchburg. He was born July 8, 1919, in Madison, the son of Nels and Emma (Reindahl) Stolen. On Nov. 11, 1950, he married June Starks, who preceded him in death. On May 3, 1986, he married Margaret (Alsmo) Ellestad in McFarland.

Ingman grew up on the family farm on what is now East Washington Ave., with his parents and seven siblings. He served in the 17th Airborne Division of the U.S. Army from 1941 to 1945. As a paratrooper, he participated in the "Jump over the Rhine" for which he received a Purple Heart. Ingman worked at Bowman Dairy and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture as a laboratory technician before retiring in 1981. Ingman was a proud Stolen and Norwegian, attending many family breakfast picnics and gatherings, and on three occasions visiting the family homestead in Norway. He often enjoyed going to visit his brothers and sisters and taking anyone in the family fishing. Ingman is also known for his woodworking, apple pies, lutefisk, sweet tooth and love of Wisconsin sports teams. He recently participated in the Badger Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with his son, Bob. Ingman was a devoted husband, father and grandfather who will be greatly missed.

He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Margaret; son, Robert (Mary) Stolen; grandchildren, Paul and Laura Stolen; Margaret's children, James (Linda) Ellestad, Mark (Hulda) Ellestad, Betty (Robert) Kalhagen and their families; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his first wife, June; siblings, Siri (Ted) Anderson, Theresa (Roland) Olsen, Eleanor (Kenneth) Jones, Dean Stolen, Sadie (Richard) Delwiche, Andy (Mildred) Stolen, Sidney (Vera) Stolen and a little sister, Bernadine; and nephews, Philip Anderson, Danny Jones and John Stolen. He was a founding member of Grace Lutheran Church and later joined McFarland Lutheran Church. A memorial service will be held at MCFARLAND LUTHERAN CHURCH, 5529 Marsh Road, McFarland, at 11 a.m., on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014, with the Rev. Timothy Dean officiating. A private burial will be held at a later date. Visitation will be held at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of the service on Thursday. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Agrace HospiceCare, McFarland Lutheran Church or the charity of one's choice. The family would like to thank all the wonderful caregivers at Agrace HospiceCare for their help and support. Online condolences may be made at

We have received notice that the following Life Members of the 17th Airborne Division Association have passed on. The obituaries and guest books for the following have been archived. If anyone has the obituaries or more information, we will post in a future newsletter
DAVID D. AMSTUTZ (194 F) Died Sept. 2, 2006
WALTER HARRIS  (194 I) Died May 16, 2013
ROBERT J. TEMPEST (681 A) Died April 14, 2008

17th Airborne Online Store
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, includes S&H in the U.S.A.
Scions Tee Shirts

We had a sample Tee shirt made up to display at the 2012 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.
Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353

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 artillery coordinates, and much more.
8.5" x 14". Great reading.

Available in hard copy for a donation of $22 each
or on a CD for $12 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
17th Airborne Challenge Coins
Challenge coins have been created by military organizations for many years. 
This beautiful, high quality challenge coin was developed by Scion Jeff Schumacher and his wife Melinda as a tribute to the 17th Airborne. The coin has the 17th Airborne insignia on one side, and the Scions logo on the reverse side. 
These coins are another great way to foster, promote, and honor the story of the 17th. On both sides around the perimeter of the coin there is a "rope" boundary symbolizing shroud lines of a parachute and tow ropes of the gliders (on two sides because they did double tow in Varsity).The black color symbolizes "SURPRISE" and the gold is the golden opportunity to seize by surprise. Also some blue on the Airborne side of the coin representing the blue skies on 3/24/45.
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!
At the recent funeral of one of our veterans, the family actually included one of these coins with the veterans remains.

Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353
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.
A $25.00 donation is requested for each hat.

We also have additional Scion patches identical to those included in the packages sent to new members.he 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
17th Airborne Decals

Scion Gary Stift had these great decals made up, and donated a quantity to us for sale to our members. Thanks Gary!!

Decals are available for $8.00 each, includes S&H in the USA.

Please indicate if you want the Talon Decal, or the Scion logo Decal, and the quantity requested.

Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353
Talon Newspapers on CD
  During WWII, the 17th published a number of magazines, or newspapers under the title of "Talon". The two most well known are "Talon in Ardennes" and "Talon Crosses the Rhine". In addition we have located 14 additional issues. We have scanned these issues, and combined them on one CD, so that they can be made available to our membership. Thanks to those who have donated  these materials.
Thanks to our membership, we have the funds to put this package together!

The CD is available for $10 each. Includes S&H in the USA

Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353

"Thunderbolt" Commemorative Book

  This 118 page book, published by the 17th before deployment to Europe, has many photo of individual units, as well as photos of the training.
  Two sample pages are shown below. Perhaps you can find your father, or grandfathers photo !
  Thanks to our membership, we have the funds to put this package together!

The CD is available for $20 each. Includes S&H in the USA

Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353

Become a Member of the
Scions of the 17th Airborne!

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.

Distinguished Honorary Members 
All veterans of the 17th are considered as "Distinguished Honorary Members" of the Scions.  We exist to honor you, our veterans.

Associate Membership is available to individuals who have an interest in the history of the 17th Airborne, but are not related to a veteran of the 17th. Associate Members do not have voting rights.

To join our growing organization, 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, although it 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)

Vice President
Michele Smith, daughter of Bill Smith (466th)

Ed Siergiej Jr., son of Edward J. Siergiej (194th)
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)
Scion Facebook Page
Scion Facebook Page
Scions Website
Scions Website
Copyright © *|2013|* *|Scions of the 17th Airborne, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Scions of the 17th Airborne
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd
Danbury, CT 06811
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