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 # 26 - November/December 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
-   Mike Rock honored by Hamilton Township

-   Scions Gather at Arlington for Veterans Day Ceremonies

-   WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Commemorates Operation Varsity

-   Latest on the Proposed Miley Postage Stamp

-   Scions 2014 Gathering Schedule

-    Scions to Invade Europe in 2015
    by Jeff Schumacher

-   Scions Memorial Fund
     by Ed Siergiej Jr.

-   Scions Attend Funeral for 17th Veteran John Leather

-   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
 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:

Mike Rock (680th) is honored by
Hamilton Township

The Hamilton Township Committee honored United States Army Airborne veteran Michael Rock as part of its Honor and Remember program at its meeting on Monday, December 1.

Committee member Rodney Guishard spoke about Rock’s accomplishments during World War II that included his induction in April, 1943 into the 680th Glider Field Artillery Battalion. He also served as a paratrooper in the 17thAirborne Division. He was deployed in Europe from August 1944 until December, 1945 where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge and received the Presidential Unit Citation.

Rock also received the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, three bronze Battle Stars, a Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Ribbon and American Campaign Service Ribbon. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

The Hauto, Pennsylvania native met his wife Julia in 1948 and they moved to Edison, New Jersey where they raised four children, Diane, Andrea, Connie and Michael. He now resides in Mays Landing and is a member of American Legion Post 254 and VFW Post 220.

In addition to the local honors, New Jersey State Assemblyman Chris Brown presented Rock with a proclamation from the New Jersey State Assembly in recognition of his service.

Scions Gather at Arlington National Cemetery for Veterans Day Ceremonies

by Michele Smith

The Scions of the 17th Airborne 2014 Ceremonial Visit to Arlington National Cemetery November 8-11 was a wonderful gathering. Attendees were Col. John Kormann and Mrs. Elsa Kormann, Matthew and Theresa Kormann, Rose Friday, Ed Siergiej Jr., Robert Smith, Melanie Sembrat, Patricia Bowers, Michele Brennan, Patti Stinchcomb, Marcy Schuerholz, Patricia and Bruce Oberman, Barbara Epps, Debbie Phillips, Jonathan Phillips, Jonathan Owens, Linda Vanek, and myself, Michele Smith.

Patty Bowers arranged a great package deal for us at the Marriott Courtyard Alexandria Courtyard Pentagon South where the 82nd ABN Reuben Tucker Chapter were also staying, including garage parking and a nice buffet breakfast each morning. Ed, Bruce and Patricia arrived earlier in the week in order to visit the Archives and continue the process of scanning 17th AB history for the benefit of our Scion Organization. The majority of us arrived 
on Sunday 9th.

That evening we were invited to a reception at the Kormann's lovely home in Chevy Chase Maryland. In addition to the delicious hors d'ouvres, the now famous "Day Drop" and "Night Drop" cocktails invented by Col. Kormann, were on hand to enjoy. We accompanied the Kormann's daughter-in-law Theresa on piano with "The Airborne Song", the "Ode to the Brave" (written by Mrs. Elsa Kormann) and ended the evening with "Blood on the Risers". It was a great night of camaraderie!

The next morning was a beautiful, sunny, autumn day as we assembled in our cars for arrival at Arlington and the wreath laying ceremony. At each memorial, a representative spoke about the particular unit we were honoring followed by the color guard and Taps. It was at the 17th Memorial that we were given an unplanned, EXTRA SPECIAL GIFT, one that I wish all of you Scions could have witnessed. Col. Kormann had just given a very moving presentation of the heroic 17th Airborne and was saluting while the bugler began to play Taps. I was standing a little to his right when suddenly I saw three year old Jonathan (Jonny) Phillips, (great grandson of Rev. Ralph Epps 194th AT and, I believe, our youngest Scion member to date), emerge from the crowd, amble up to directly face Col. Kormann, take off his Scion cap and slap it on his hip to brush off the dust, put it back on his head, put his hand over his heart and stood at attention during the playing of Taps. Three years old!!! WOW!!! What a moment to cherish. To my left, a veteran with an illustrious career and founder of our Scion organization, to my right the future of our Scion organization. That is why it is so important as Scions that we continue to educate our children and grandchildren on the history of the 17th Airborne so that some day they can be standing there in our shoes and carrying on our mission to perpetuate the memory of the 17th. At only three years old, Jonny Phillips is already on his way!

Once the wreath laying ceremonies were over we made a stop at the gravesite of trooper Curt Gadd for a moment of prayer and reflection.

After that we again assembled in our cars to make a stop at the World War II Memorial with our wreath and another tribute to the 17th. Ed had Scion car flags made so we looked like dignitaries as we drove up, made our  presentation, took pictures and hopped back into our cars!

Once back at the hotel, some of us went into old town Alexandria for lunch and shopping, while some others went sightseeing around the Capitol area. That night we held our business meeting in the conference room of the hotel and Steve Couchman from the 82nd's Reuben Tucker Chapter also sat in as a guest. Melanie Sembrat does an excellent job of recording the minutes from our meeting and they are available to you on our website. The next morning after breakfast we said our goodbyes until the next get-together. The Arlington ceremony is an important event for our organization. .We would love to see more of you, all of you, join us next year! It would be a great family vacation with all the things to see and do as well as a meaningful one.

Col. John Kormann with Jonathan Dean Phillips, great grandson of Ralph Epps 194/AT at the memorial to the 17th Airborne Division 

Photo by Scion Linda Vanek, Daughter of John Bietler, 680/HQ
Scions Gather at 17th Memorial

Photo by Scion Linda Vanek, Daughter of John Bietler, 680/HQ
Honor Guard of the 82nd Airborne Division at Memorial to the 17th Airborne

Photo by Scion Linda Vanek, Daughter of John Bietler, 680/HQ
Memorial to the 17th Airborne Division - Arlington National Cemetery

Photo by Scion Linda Vanek, Daughter of John Bietler, 680/HQ
Scions Gather at the Airborne Panel of the WWII Memorial 
Scions pose at the grave of Trooper Curt Gadd (513/D)
During the procession to each Airborne Memorial, we happen to look down and noticed this gravestone of Joseph P. Tweed, 224th Airborne Medical Company
Photo by Scion Melanie Sembrat
Patricia Overman, Bruce Overman, Ed Siergiej Jr, & Robert Smith
Look Over Maps of Operation Varsity
 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, granddaughter 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 now deductible under Section 170 of the IRS code. 
WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Commemorates Operation Varsity

Contributed by Mihael Payton

At Warriors and Warbirds Airshow Veteran's Weekend November 7th-9th in Monroe, North Carolina, members of The WWII Airborne Demonstration Team represented specifically the 513th (17th AB as a whole) jumping out of a Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando named "Tinker Belle" just as they did in Operation Varsity March '45.

The plane had a maintenance issue and we unfortunately did not jump this time but did inform the crowd and put on a static display.
WWIIADT's mission is to "Remember, Honor and Serve the WWII Paratrooper through dynamic static-line round parachute demonstration out of period aircraft wearing period gear."
Over the weekend we informed the public of the 17th AB, its composite units and its great Airborne history, missions and campaigns, courageous leaders and the fighting prowess of the troopers.
Best Regards,
Mike Payton 
WWIIADT member
The Latest on the Miley Postage Stamp

by Ed Siergiej Jr.
Col. John Kormann has been working to get a postage stamp issued to honor General Miley as the father of the U.S. Paratrooper for some time. A recent setback in the project prompted the letter below. We encourage our membership to write to the Postmaster General in support for this stamp.
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.


Lancaster Reunion 2015

Our annual Lancaster Reunion information will be announced in the coming editions of Thunder From Heaven, so keep checking back, and mark your calendars.  The tentative dates are May 3-8, 2015, but we'll have more information and confirmation of those dates for you shortly!  
Scions to Invade Europe in 2015!
March 18 - 29, 2015 

December 2014 Update:

Scions Trip 2015 

 Jeff Schumacher, who is coordinating this trip reports that the trip is full and that a waiting list has been developed, in case anyone has to cancel.
Jeff recently returned from Belgium where he reviewed the details for the trip. 

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

Scions Attend Funeral for 17th Veteran
John Leather

One of the initiatives that the Scions have undertaken in the last year is to make an attempt to attend the funerals of our 17th Airborne veterans, whenever possible. Often by the time we are notified of the death, the funeral has already taken place. However when we are notified in time, we reach out to members in the geographic region where the funeral will take place. When possible, we will ship our flag to the Scion representing us. 

In the case of recent death of John Leather (194/F) we were notified by Scion Chalpain Isaac Epps by phone, while at our business meeting at Arlington. After observing a few minutes of silence, we made plans for members to attend the services. Attending were Rose Friday, Michele Smith, Melanie Sembrat, Col. & Mrs. John Kormann, & Jerry O'Brien. 

Welcome New Members

James Milner
Son of Frank T. Milner  464th PFAB
Chaplains Corner
by Isaac Epps

 The Airborne Soldier's Creed
 I am an American Soldier.
 I am a Trooper in the 17th Airborne Division of the United States Army--a protector of the greatest nation on earth.
 As a soldier, I uphold the principles of Freedom for which my country stands.
 As a Trooper, I am a superior soldier--in physical fitness, combat readiness, military bearing, courtesy, character and self discipline. 
 My actions always reflect my pride in my country, my flag, and my uniform.
 I trust in my God and in the United States of America.
 I am an American Soldier.
  May God Bless all of our Veterans.
  May God's Healing Hand be on those families who have lost a Veteran or a Trooper from day one to now, no matter the circumstances.
  May we all continue to find ways and priorities that will continue to honor their service and sacrifices; both personally and through our Scions group.
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
Vacant position

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"

This motion was tabled until our next meeting, in Lancaster, PA, in May 2015

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

This motion was approved 
at our meeting in Arlington, VA on November 10, 2014

Jeff Schumacher was elected to fill the vacant position on the Board of Directors.

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. 

From John Kormann

I just started on my Christmas cards and came across one I did in 2012.  It was  Lt. Joe Pahle's letter about Christmas in the Battle of the Bulge.  I read it again and it brought tears to my eyes.  My cards had a fairly limited circulation and I thought that if it can still be used in some way, possibly in the Newsletter, I would send it to you in an attachment.   A more moving piece of writing would be hard to find and it makes you proud to know that it was written by one of our own. 


Have a request to make for information, or for research help?  Send us an email and we will post it in a future edition of the Thunder From Heaven newsletter, in this section!
A Request From Desmond Eiserman in the Netherlands

Desmond has adopted the grave of 17th Trooper Maxwell Horton (194/H), who is buried in Margraten Cemetery. Desmond has inquired if anyone has information, or perhaps a photo of Trooper Horton. Anyone with information is requested to contact Desmond at the following email address:
James Milner, son of Frank T. Milner (464th) is looking for information about his father's service with the 17th. Anyone who can help James, can contact him at the following email address:
Mike Johnson, nephew of James"Jimmy" Johnson 193rd GIR is looking for anyone who knew his uncle, who was KIA on Dead Mans Ridge. Anyone with information can contact Mike at the email below:
From Gregory De Cock,

Dear participants to the "Dead Man's Ridge Walk",
We have the honor to announce that the 7th edition of the DMRW will take place on Sunday March 22, 2015 at the village of Houmont, Belgium.
At the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, several families of veterans, and some veterans of the 17th Airborne will be attending the event.
Two remembrance ceremonies will have place along the trail.
A memorial dedicated to the 17th Airborne will be unveiled on Saturday March 21, 2015 at 4.00PM, at the main square of Houmont taht will officialy be named "Square of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment".
We are waiting for you at the occasion of this very special event.
Kind regards.
From Judy Foster Holland, daughter of James Foster (194/C)

An Always Free Walk of Honor has been placed in Princeton, West Virginia at the memorial building.  It was dedicated and unveiled today.  The payment for the bricks that were purchased for the walk goes toward our state's Always Free Honor Flight (only they use a bus since we are so close to D.C.) and they take veterans there free twice a year. 

Dreama Denver, the widow of Bob Denver, is the person who started and maintained this trip.  I bought a brick for dad (James W. Foster) and I have attached a picture of the brick as well as the beautiful place where it has been placed.  I encourage anyone who is in the area to stop and look at it. 

On this Veterans Day I want to say THANK YOU to all veterans and share the following verse

                A TRIBUTE

An American Alphabet

A for America, land of the free

B for the Battles won for you and me 

C for our Country, bright and strong                                                                 

D for our Determination all along                                                                   

E for the Eagle soaring high above                                                                   

F for our Flag that we all love      

G for the Glory that we all know                                                                         

H for the Hope that we will show
I for the Innocence that we free
J for the Judgments that must be                                                                              

K for the Kindness from us all
L for the Liberty, standing tall
M for the Mercy we must feel
N for our great Nation and its seal                                                                   

O for our Origins for which we are proud                                                             

P for the Pride we sing out loud                                                                        

Q for the Questions we need to ask                                                                    

R for the Reason we take on this task                                                               

S for the Salvation that we give                                                                         

T for the Trust so we can live
U for our Unity, united we stand                                                                        

V for the Victory of our great land                                                                    

W for War, which sometimes must be                                                                    

X for our eXtreme love of liberty                                                                                 

Y for the Yearning for Peace, Love, and Hope                                                           

Z for the Zeal of our people's strength to cope.


Remember your loved ones this Veterans Day and keep our service men and women in your daily prayers.  Pray that our Nation will always be strong and free and that our elected leaders will work together for the good of all mankind.  God Bless You, and GOD BLESS AMERICA!

                                                                                                                                                ~Sharon Beckwith

Dear friends,
Today we attended the Veterans Day ceremony at the Margraten cemetery.
Kind regards,
Joe and Flory Somers




Sick Call

Mike Rock (680B) has just returned home after a long time in the hospital, and is recovering steadily, with the able help of his family and especially his daughter Diane.

Mike could use our support now, and he appreciates hearing from the 17th Family.
 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

John Leather


Life Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

John William Leather, 89, of Hagerstown, passed away Monday, November 10, 2014, at his home surrounded by his loving family.

Born November 23, 1924, in Beaver Creek, Maryland, he was the son of the late, Lewis E. and Bertie E. (Irving) Leather. In addition to his parents he also was preceded in death by his first wife, Lorraine A. (Weaver) Leather; one brother, Lloyd Leather, and a sister, Mildred Funk.

Mr. Leather retired as owner and operator of Leather's Plumbing, Heating and Hardware and co- owner of B & L Home and Gardens, all formerly of Hagerstown.

He was a member of the Ringgold Church of Christ; the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 14, Clear Spring; The American Legion Post 0297, Baltimore; a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 14000.

Mr. Leather was an U.S. Army veteran of World War II. After joining in 1943 he was assigned to the glider infantry and was able to earn his jump wings. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant with the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 17th Airborne Division. In December of 1944, his unit participated in the action to stem the German advance during the Battle of the Bulge. Linking up with Patton's Third Army and the 101st Airborne Division they helped relieve Bastogne during one of Europe's coldest winters. Several months after helping to stem Germany's last offensive, he participated in "Operation Varsity." In March 1945, his glider-infantry regiment landed on German soil. Several days after achieving their objective, Staff Sergeant Leather was wounded in combat. Despite requests to return to his unit, his war was over. Mr. Leather was a veteran of the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe campaigns, and a recipient of the Purple Heart.

He is survived by his loving wife of 10 years, Geraldine F. "Gerry" (Knott) Leather; two sons, Steven A. Leather and wife, Pat, and David A. Leather and wife, Nadine, all of Hagerstown; two daughters, Rebecca A. Leather of California and Susan A. Leather of Hagerstown; one granddaughter, Kristy L. Poffenberger and husband, Brett, of Williamsport; two great-grandchildren, Caitlin M. Beattie and Wyatt A. Poffenberger; one stepdaughter, Lorraine Kline and husband, George, of Hagerstown; a stepgranddaughter, Cheri Haupt and husband, Greg, of Keedysville; a step-great-grandson, Brandon Redman; two step-great-granddaughters, Amanda and Lynsey Haupt, and John's special buddy, Billy, his pet cat.

Funeral services will be conducted on Saturday, November 15, 2014, at 1 p.m. at Rest Haven Funeral Chapel, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave., Hagerstown, with the Rev. Donald E. Conley officiating.

Interment will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery where military honors will be accorded by the Maryland National Guard Honor Guard, Morris Frock American Legion Post 42 and the 17th Airborne Division Alumni.

Friends will be received at the funeral home on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in John's name to the DAV Post #14, 11837 Hanging Rock Road, Clear Spring, MD 21722 or to the BSA Troop 108, Leitersburg, MD.

Zoltan A. Varga


Zoltan A. Varga passed away on Thursday, November 6, 2014 at Care One at the Highlands Nursing Center in Edison. He was 88 years old. Born in Keasbey, he resided in Woodbridge before moving to Edison two years ago. Mr. Varga was employed as a bricklayer for many years. He was a United States Army veteran, serving as a paratrooper with the 507th Paratroop Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division during World War II and belonged to the Calvin Hungarian Reformed Church of Woodbridge.

Mr. Varga was predeceased by his parents, Albert and Margaret Bosze Varga; two sisters, Irene Remenar and Eleanor Whartenby; and a brother, Bert Varga. Surviving are a sister, Margaret Kovach, of Edison; three nieces, Nancy LePore, Linda Hague and Irene Cunningham; five nephews, Bert, Steven and David Kovach, Joseph Remenar and Nicholas Vargo; and many great nieces and great nephews.

Funeral services will take place on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at Costello-Greiner Funeral Home, 44 Green Street (at Barron Avenue), Woodbridge. Interment will follow in Clover Leaf Memorial Park, Woodbridge. Visitation will be on Monday from 4:00 until 8:00 p.m. and Tuesday from 9:30 until 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Calvin Hungarian Reformed Church of Woodbridge, 94 North James Street, Woodbridge, NJ 07095. - See more at:
Maj Gen Paul F Smith US Army [Ret]
507th PIR

Paul was born Nov 15, 1915 in Taunton, MA and died Oct 20, 2014 at Viera, FL The son of Frederick J Smith ESQ and Honora V Hartigan, brother to William G, Patricia H Mulhern and Barbara J Lincoln.

Gen Smith was a member of the US Army 1935 to 1968. A WW2 paratrooper with the 82nd and 17th Airborne/507th PIR making combat jumps on DDay and Operation Varsity [jump over the Rhine] and participating in the Battle of the Bulge. CO Airborne School Regiment, Ft Benning 45-48. G3 Sec/HQ/8th Army, Yokohama, Japan 48-50. Eighth Army [forward] Taegu, Korea 50-51[5 campaigns/LOM]. HQ Far East Command Tokyo, Japan 51-52. Ops Officer DOA/Military Assistant Secretary of the Army, Pentagon 52-56. Graduate Army War College 1957. CO 2nd ABN Battle Group/504th/11th Abn.and COS 24th Inf Div Augsburg, Germany etc 57-60. Assistant COS/G2 and Deputy COS/Ops & Plans/XVIIIth ABN, Ft Bragg, NC 60-64. Chief of Army Sec.MAAG, Taiwan 64-65.  Deputy Commanding General and COS Task Force Alpha, Nha Trang, Viet Nam 65-66. Commanding General, 173rd ABN Brigade [Seperate] Viet Nam 1966.  Deputy for Revolutionary Dev to Deputy Ambassador of Viet Nam, Saigon, 3 campaigns/DSC/SS/AMw/4OLC/NOVN/VCG 66-67. Chairman Special Study Group JCOS and Sec DOD 67-68. Gen Smith retired from the Army in Aug 68 and became the Executive Director of the Central Florida Development Committee, Orlando, FL retiring in 1974. Gen Smith is survived by his 4 children Robert N, Thomas P, Sonja S Porcher and Sandra S. 3 grandaughters and 6 ggrandchildren.

Military Honors Funeral will be held at Arlington National Cemetery in late spring 2015.

Memorial contributions can be made to 
OR - See more at this website
Bernard Gittelman

Division HQ

Life Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

The following obituary was provided to us by Stuart Gittelman, nephew of Bernard Gittelman
From the 15 April 2003 Las Vegas Sun

Bernard Gittelman, 78, of Las Vegas died Saturday in Las Vegas. He was born Feb. 3, 1925, in Brooklyn, N.Y. A resident for 14 years, he was a retired teacher, a World War II Army veteran, a member of Jewish War Veterans Post 21, National Association of Teachers and Bet Knesset Bamidbar.
He is survived by his wife, Gloria; one son, Michael Gittelman of Scottsdale, Ariz.; one daughter, Robin McCollum of Seattle; his mother, Martha Gittelman of Maryland; two brothers, Marvin Gittelman and Stanley Gittelman, both of Las Vegas; one sister, Adele Converse of West Covina, Calif.; and two grandchildren.
Graveside services will be 10:40 a.m. Wednesday in Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Boulder City. Palm Mortuary, 7400 W. Cheyenne Ave., is handling arrangements.
The family suggests donations to the City of Hope, 5600 W. Spring Mountain Road, Suite 208, Las Vegas, NV 89146.
Edward J Husarik

March 16, 1926-Sept. 24, 2014

Edward Joseph Husarik, 88, of Mukilteo, Washington departed this life to join our Heavenly Father on September 24, 2014, after a six-month long battle with cancer. At his death he was surrounded by his immediate family, and in the beautiful summer preceding, he spent a great deal of time with dear family and friends from all over the United States and Canada.

Ed was born to Michael Husarik and wife Margaret (Krman) in Kenosha, Wisconsin on
March 16, 1926. Born premature, his family was told their third child, and only boy, may not survive beyond his first days, but our Lord decided that he would have 88 blessed years in this life instead! His family lived their early years in Kenosha, but moved prior to his senior year of high school to Everett. He graduated early from Everett High School in January, 1944, was drafted and entered into service with the U.S. Army in June of 1944.

Ed served in the 17th Airborne Division, 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, Anti-Tank Company, and participated in Operation Varsity near the end of the WWII. He was on his way to serve in the Pacific when the war ended and he was sent back to the U.S. and was Honorably Discharged in April of 1946.

From there he returned to Everett where he graduated from Everett Junior College in 1948 and began work at Weyerhaeuser as a pay clerk until 1951. He then attended and graduated from Seattle University in 1953 with a degree in accounting and also a teaching certificate. After a one year job with Lockheed in California he returned to Washington and was hired by the Edmonds School District as a teacher for 5 years and then moved to the business office where he remained as Business Office Manager, until his retirement in 1991.

In the Spring of 1960 a young lass from Canada, Doris Romaniuk, caught his eye while visiting her sister and brother-in-law, both teachers, in Marysville, and the courtship turned into marriage on February 11, 1961 at Immaculate Conception Church in Everett. The two would have 3 children over the next 11 years, Denise Margaret in 1962, Edward John in 1965 and Ellenora Marie in 1972.

Ed was an avid model airplane and railroad fan, was a flying member of the Civil Air Patrol in the late 50s and early 60s, was a past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Sertoma Club, served as board member and the board chair for the Snohomish County Teachers Credit Union, and as a second career was a marshal at the Harbour Pointe Golf Club.

He was very active with his parish, St. Mary Magdalen, serving as an usher and on the Finance Committee for many years. Despite all this volunteering and service he was a dedicated father and husband and enjoyed most of all being surrounded by his family. He always enjoyed watching his own children in their activities, and in later years his 9 grandchildren. He will always be remembered for his smile, his laugh and his warm embraces. His kindness and faith touched all those who knew him.

Ed leaves behind in this life his loving wife, Doris, of 53 years; his three children, Denise Wipf and husband Evan, Edward Husarik and wife Sara, and Ellenora Husarik; nine grandchildren, Erik Wipf and wife Susanna, Jacob and Aaron Wipf; Jack, Ben, Sam, Elena, Nik and Lilia Husarik; as well as numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom he cherished. As he enters into heaven, he will be joining his parents, and his sisters Margaret and Eileen Paricka (Joe). Although his family wishes "Papa" could remain with us for many more years, we take comfort in the fact that he is now at peace, without pain or worry, in the arms of our Lord.

A Funeral Mass celebrating his life will be held at the St. John Mission Catholic Church in Mukilteo, 829 3rd St., on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 11 a.m. There will be a brief viewing from 10-10:45 a.m. prior to the Mass. A reception will follow, and a brief graveside service with military honors will be held at Holyrood Cemetery in Shoreline at 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers the family is asking that donations be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary Magdalen Parish, the Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County or the Puget Sound Honor Flight of Grapeview, Wash. We love you "Papa" and you will forever be in our hearts!

See more here. 

Paris Craighead

Life Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

Paris Baker Craighead, 90, of Fulton, passed away on Sunday, November 23, 2014, at Fulton Manor.

He was born November 16, 1924, in Fulton, the son of the late Clark Craighead and the late Pearl (Baker) Craighead. In 1948, Paris was united in marriage to Helen (Shelton) Craighead. She preceded him in death in 2006. Paris was a member of Unity Baptist Church.

He proudly served his county during World War II with the 194th Glider Infantry in the United States Army and was the recipient of a Purple Heart.

He loved fishing and farming, and cherished time spent with his family. Paris will be sadly missed and lovingly remembered by three children, Ronnie Craighead (Vicki), Johnnie Craighead (Naomi), all of Fulton and daughter, Linda McDaniel of Holts Summit; grandchildren, Jeff Craighead, Karyn Barker, Dustin Craighead (Lakyn) Clint McDaniel (Missy), Cameron McDaniel (Kelly); and great-grandchildren, Meridian McDaniel, Hannah Barker, Gavin McDaniel, Molly McDaniel, and Maggie McDaniel.

Along with his wife and parents, he was preceded in death by brothers, Wallace and Bill Craighead.

Funeral services will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 29, 2014, at Maupin Funeral Home in Fulton with Reverend James Preston officiating. The family will receive friends from 2:00 p.m. until the time of service at the funeral home. Interment with Military Honors will be at Callaway Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to Unity Baptist Church, c/o Maupin Funeral Home, 301 Douglas Boulevard. Condolences can be left for the family at

Raymond Souder


Raymond D. Souder, 90, of Fostoria, passed away Sunday morning, Nov. 23, 2014, at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo.

He was born Sept. 12, 1924, in Fostoria, to Harry and Bessie (DeWald) Souder. He married Ruth M. Starkey Sept. 13, 1952, at Bloomville Methodist Church, and she survives in Fostoria.

Also surviving are four children, Dr. Beth M. (Jeff Michel) Souder of Attica, Kristy R. (Francis) Miller of Tiffin, Lori J. (Craig) Knupp of Fostoria and Timothy D. (Becky) Souder of New Riegel; six grandchildren, Nicholas, Monica and Jonathan Miller, Gabriel and Athena Souder and Travis Michel; three great-grandchildren, Layla and Gallifrey Miller and Evan Michel; and two brothers, Edward Souder of Fostoria and Lowell (Barbara) Souder of Michigan.

He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Kenneth, Charles and Harold Souder; and three sisters, Eloise Davis, Kathryn Zartman and Wanda Benninghoff.

Ray was a lifelong carpenter and Seneca County farmer for over 70 years. He retired in 1991 from OHM, Findlay. He was a member of Union United Church of Christ, Bascom, the Christian Leaders Class and elder of the church, and a church board officer.

He was a 39-year Seneca County Fair Board director, nominated as outstanding fair supporter in 2006, life member of Tri-State Rodeo Association, life member of the Wood County Horse Council, 50-year member of Loudon Center Grange, 7th degree member of the Grange, a Golden Sheaf member of the Grange, a 38-year 4-H adviser, a member of the Seneca County Farm Bureau and also a member of the New Riegel American Legion Post 354.

Ray was a World War II U.S. Army veteran, who served in the 513th Parachute Infantry, 17th Airborne Division in the European Theatre of Operations, having received a Bronze Star.

Visitation will be 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, at Hoening Funeral Home, 242 W. Tiffin St., Fostoria.

His funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Union United Church of Christ, Bascom with Pastor Tress Hodkinson, the Rev. Carl Pelzer and Pastor Nancy Smith presiding. Burial will follow at Sandridge Cemetery, Bascom, where the New Riegel American Legion will provide military honors.

Memorials are suggested to the church, Seneca County Agricultural Society or a charity of the donor's choice.

Online expressions of sympathy and shared memories may be made by visiting


Trooper Souder's wake was attended by Scion Charlie Jones, who responded to our call for a volunteer on very short notice. Thank you Charlie, for representing the entire 17th Airborne Family.

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
17th Airborne Car Flags

These high quality car flags are double sided, 12" x 18", and feature a heavy duty window mount. A great way to show your pride in the 17th Airborne Division

$25 each, includes S&H in the U.S.A.

Scions of the 17th Airborne Pins

This pin was designed by our founding veteran, Col. John Kormann. The pin is 3/4" in Diameter, with the Scion Logo

$10 each, includes S&H in the U.S.A.

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:

Our brand-new website contains a wealth of information on the 17th Airborne and its history, and our Members Section (open exclusively to dues-paying Scions) contains hundreds of pages of documents obtained from the National Archives!  Check it out 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).

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)
Board of Directors

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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