Welcome to our new electronic newsletter, combining Bill Tom's "Thunder Mail Call" and "Scion News".
Issue # 2 - November 2012
This change was made with Bill's support, as well as the advice of 17th veteran Joe Quade who was the editor of the hard copy newsletter of the 17th Airborne Division Association "Thunder From Heaven". We have decided to return to the original title of the newsletter, and to include a special section for letters and information under the subheading "Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom". Bill continues to recover from open heart surgery, and will contribute to this section as he is able. We hope that you enjoy the new format which will serve the needs of both the veterans of the 17th, their descendants, and our many friends.
Please send us your 17th related news items, questions etc. so that we can share them with the entire group. You may direct your mail to the Scions at:"
Ed Siergiej Jr. - Editor
In This Newsletter
- Report on 2nd Annual Meeting and Memorial Service
by Rose Friday
- Scions Represent 17th During European Trip
by Ed Siergiej Jr.
- Trooper Stories from Bart Hagerman
by Isaac Epps
- Scions research trip to the National Archives
by Melanie Sembrat
- National WWII Museum Exhibit on POW's
from Kerry Mclaughlin
- Register Now for the Lancaster "Operation Varsity" Gathering
by Michele Smith
- Help Wanted to do Transcription Work
- New Book about Operation Varstiy
- "Die Luftlanding" to be Translated Into English
- Scion Hats Available
Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom
- Letters From Home and Abroad
- John Schumacher represents 17th
at Veterans Day Ceremony
Scions Hold 2nd Annual Convention at Arlington
by Rose Friday
The Scions' gathering in Washington, D.C., was held over Veterans' Day weekend. A small, but dedicated group, traveled to attend the commemoration ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, and to hold our second annual business meeting. About a dozen Scions spent a memorable weekend together, participating in various events and activities. Our time was limited, so we made the most of it. On Friday, Colonel and Mrs. Kormann hosted one group for a delicious luncheon at the very grand Officers' Club. The benefit of being a smaller group, is that we were all able to sit at one table. This way, we all participated in one lively conversation. Colonel and Mrs. Kormann have many interesting stories to tell, so this was an excellent opportunity to get to hear a few of them, first-hand. Another group journeyed to the out-lying National Archives library to see what they might be able to discover there, relating to the 17th AB. The Archives group also had a very productive day, and later we all met up for dinner together and to share in an evening of conversation. Saturday was the day of the ceremonies at Arlington. The day was a spectacular crisp, clear fall day, with a beautiful blue sky. We were among other groups who all gathered early that morning, at the Women's Memorial, for a short ceremony of speeches and remembering. Then, we drove to a number of plaques for wreath-laying ceremonies, honoring various divisions. The 17th Airborne has a plaque, which isn't far from President Kennedy's grave site. A group from the 82nd Airborne has taken over the responsibility of performing the ceremonies and placing a wreath at these plaques. We proceed from plaque to plaque, driving from place to place. At each plaque, one person from that actual group gives a short, informative speech, a live buglar plays "Taps," and a wreath is placed. In this way, we are led to focus and to reflect on the bravery and sacrifices of each of these divisions. I hope that you can envision how very powerful it is - - - to be among dozens of very dedicated people, all with the common goal of honoring and remembering their own veterans. Standing amidst the rolling fields of white marble crosses, under huge trees, decked in their magestic fall finery; on the manicured green lawns - - - each grave marker being a powerful testiment of the sacrifices made for the freedom that we enjoy. A sombering mood is created each and every time that the bugler plays the crystal-clear familiar notes. You can't help but to look around and to imagine all of the families that have gathered at these graves over the decades, in much sadness and with much pride, listening to a bugler playing the same, moving anthem. Then, the large group moves on to the plaque of the 17th AB Division, and it becomes our turn to be in the spotlight. The stage has already been set, as we Scions had gathered at the plaque earlier, to place the full-sized Scion flag there. The brilliant gold-and-back flag, adorned with the 17th's talon, make a perfect background for our key-note speaker, Colonel John Kormann. Colonel Kormann is a very powerful speaker. It is with much dignity and passion, that he delivers his well-chosen words. All attention is on him, and it was with much pride that we all stood tall as "Taps" was played, this time with Colonel Kormann's pointed message still lingering in our thoughts. You could just feel the emotion sweep through all of us. We shared in a few more of the ceremonies, and then we raced off to drive to the WWII Memorial. Colonel Kormann led our group of Scions, as we placed another wreath there. On the pathway that leads to the enourmous fountain of the WWII Memorial, there are different bronze plaques. One plaque depicts images of combat paratroopers. This is a fitting spot to place our 17th AB wreath, and it will draw the attention of others as they enter the Memorial. The WWII Memorial is flooded with visitors from all over the country, wanting to share in honoring veterans and others of The Greatest Generation. Next, we drove to the hotel hospitality room of the 82nd Airborne, to share in a lunch and conversation with our 82nd AB friends. A brief chance to visit, and to re-group, and then off to the grand home of Colonel and Mrs. Kormann for a reception prepared and hosted by them and their family. You have to realize that the Kormanns are seasoned and experienced entertainers. They take hosting an event to the level of an artform. There is everything from alcoholic drinks that Colonel has invented and mixed up, to an array of delicious finger foods that have us all asking, "How did they do that?" Again, an opportunity to all sit in the spacious living room, sharing in one enthusiastic conversation. The evening flew by quickly, and we made it back to our hotel, with a warm feeling of comradery, having shared such a memorable day. Sunday morning we conducted our business meeting. Colonel Kormann arrived, dressed in his full military uniform. What a striking figure, he is. We made our way through our new and old business, and talked some about the various issues concerning our new organization. After more than four hours, we had covered the main items that we had planned on addressing. So, then we had the entire rest of the day to celebrate however we chose to. Some people had to travel back home, but five of us were able to stay on. So, we decided to drive back into D.C., to be among the Veterans' Day crowds of on-lookers. The day was another marvelous, mild fall day. We walked all through the Mall section, crowds of people everywhere. Many, many groups and individuals had placed numerous wreaths and memontos at the various war memorials. We returned to the WWII Memorial, which was swarming with visitors. Colorful wreaths were all lined up along the main wall of the memoral. Our wreath still stood proudly, near the entrance. It was very exciting to see so many visitors at the WWII Memorial. People were wandering all over, reading the enscriptions etched in the granite walls. Children were running around, seeming to be fascinated by the dancing fountain and the open space. What a perfect snap-shot of a moment it was, to be witness to all of this. It only validated our deep sense of pride in our 17th Airborne veterans. We walked on to the World War One Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Wall - - - all of which are very moving tributes to those wars. The same phenomenon occurs as you visit each of the war memorials. At first site, you are impressed by the grandness of the structure, and you might reflect upon the war that is being honored. Then, as you begin to take it all in, your attention shifts to the individuals who fought in those wars. They are no longer just numbers and statistics, they are the sons and family members and friends. At the Vietnam Wall, you slow down to read the lists and lists of actual names, pausing to try to comprehend the magnitude of the losses. Visitors place all sorts of photos, token gifts, and even hand-written notes, displayed at the base of the Wall, in honor of their someone special. You take in all of these images, as you walk along the Wall of names. One particular item caught my eye, and touched my heart. It was a hand-written letter, containing a photograph of a very sweet baby boy. The letter was "introducing" the fallen Vietnam soldier to the child, his new grandson. The letter also spoke to the soldier, giving him up-dates on other family news that he had missed. In particular, that his ailing mother would likely be joining him some time soon. That his mother was looking forward to the long-awaited reunion with him, in heaven. I just stopped in my path. As I held the letter, and looked into the face of the sweet boy who would never have the chance to know his hero grandfather, I realized that other families share these same feelings. I could not help but to relect on this, and all of the soldiers who were not lucky enough to return home after their turn of fighting. That this is the price of freedom. The feelings of sadness are mixed with feelings of pride. I could not have imagined a more perfect Veterans' Day commemoration, than to have spent the weekend with fellow Scions - - - both remembering the deeds of the 17th, as well as forging new friendships among ourselves. We have a common thread that ties us together: the past, and the future. We share in honoring the 17th Airborne Division, and are committed to making certain that their sacrifices are not forgotten. Now, isn't that what Veterans' Day is really all about?
Col. John Kormann Adresses Crowd at the Memorial
to the 17th Airborne Division
Arlington National Cemetery
November 10, 2012
Scions Represent 17th During European Trip
by Ed Siergiej Jr.
In the September and October issues of "Thunder From Heaven" I have related our fantastic European trip from September 21st thru the 28th to visit important sites related to the 17th Airborne. This will be the third and final report, relating the last few days of our trip.
After spending the 25th of September at the American Cemeteries in Belgium and the Netherlands, our friend Fred Dehon, of the "Golden Talon Belgian Assoc." drove us to Bastogne, which was our home base for the next few days. On the 26th, we were met by other good friend of the 17th Airborne, Joe and Flory Somers, Jos Bex, and Evan Ottelet. They have a great wealth of knowledge regarding the details of the fighting that took place in this area in 1944 - 45, and were happy to share it with us.
Our first stop was to the office of the Mayor of Bastogne, where Jos had arranged for us to be greeted by the mayor and his staff. We were presented with a gift to be brought back to my father, Ed Siergiej Sr. (194 C) Thankfully, Fred and Jos were able to translate what the mayor had to say, regarding how the city honors all the veterans who fought for their freedom.
The next stop was to the St. Josephs School, where we were able to visit the classroom of Mr. Jean-Marie Body. Again, with help from Fred and Jos, we answered questions from the school children. The classroom was filled with 17th Airborne items, including an Association Flag. Over the years, the 17th has had a long association with this school. They even have a large map of the U.S. on the wall with car license plates brought from visitors.
As the day unfolded we visited a fantastic museum “Le Mess” in Bastonge with many artifacts of the fighting. Two of the contributors to the museum are Evan Ottelet, and his father Franck, Evan and his father live in Mande-St- Etienne, an area where the 17th fought, and have collected many items over the years. Some of the items on display had the names and units of members of the 17th on them. There are numerous very realistic dioramas, maps, and displays of equipment. If you visit Bastogne, this is a "must see" destination.
After picking up bouquets of flowers from the florist, we traveled to Flamierge, where there is a beautiful monument to the 17th. We were met by the man in charge of veterans affairs, Mr. Christian Glaude. After Fred translated his remarks, we placed the bouquets, one by Fred and the other by myself, on behalf of the Scions.
Our next stop was to "Dead Mans Ridge", where we were able to walk into the woods where many foxholes are still in evidence. This is one of the areas where Evan and his father have found artifacts of the battle. Then it was off to Houmont, where Fred had arranged for us to visit the church there. 17th veterans had contributed to the restoration of the church, damaged during the war, and there is a stained glass window with the 17th Airborne Association logo. This window and logo was the inspiration for the Scions logo, linking the Scions to the original 17th Airborne Div. Assoc. and to our friends in Europe.
During the remainder of the day, we visited the Mardasson Memorial in Bastonge, which gives a great view of the area, and commemorates all of the units, engaged in the battle, as well as the "Peace Woods". Fred surprised us by bringing us to a place where they had a live buffalo! Who would have thought!
In the evening, our group gathered at a restaurant in Bastogne and enjoyed relaxing after an eventfull day.
The next day, our final full day in Europe was busy as well. We toured the "Bastogne Barracks", where the HQ of the 101st was during the battle. They have an impressive museum as well, and many vehicles which were beautifully restored. Before leaving Bastogne, we also visited another private museum that had many interesting dioramas.
Our final destination before Fred drove us back to his home town of Mons, was Houffaliaze. We gathered for lunch, did some shopping, and posed for a photo at the German Panther tank that sits in the square.
We then headed to Mons, where we had a great dinner with Fred, his wife and daughter, before checking into our hotel. The next morning we took the train from Mons to the Brussels airport, and flew home.
From the beginning of our trip, to the end, everyone was absolutely wonderful to us. The honor and respect that the many friends of the 17th have for our veterans, was lavished on us as we tried our best to represent the veterans and their families, the Scions. We hope to return again, as eight days is in no way adequate to understand all that the 17th experienced and endured.
I think that I speak for anyone who has had the pleasure of being hosted by our friends in Europe, when I say that if they are able to travel to the U.S., our home is their home!
17th Airborne Flag at St. Josephs School, Bastogne
Bouquet's Placed at the Monument in Flamierge
by Bart Hagerman
The Part-Time Glider Drivers by Bob Baldinger (194A)
At one time or another, every glidertrooper probably wondered why the C-47s had a pilot and co-pilot, yet the CG-4A gliders only had one pilot. On occasions, a senior noncom would be permitted to sit in the co-pilot seat, but he kept his hands off the steering mechanism and was strictly a passenger only.
None of us at that time recognized how short the supply was of glider pilots. They didn't have enough pilots to put two into every glider. So, if a glider pilot had a heart attack or some other serious
problem at the time he was flying, likely the whole load would have gone down. Recognizing this problem and knowing the increased chance of that happening in combat, the military finally took some action. Prior to "Operation Varsity", it was determined that some of the 17th Airborne senior non-coms would be given basic instruction in flying the CG-4A in the event they had to fill in due to the shortage of qualified pilots.
Thus it was that one of these senior non-coms, Tech Sergeant Bob Baldinger of 194A (formerly of 193B) was ordered to report one day to the airfield near Chalons for glider flight training. Bob and about a dozen other non-coms from the division reported but they weren't all that happy about the duty they had drawn. It was only about two weeks before "Operation Varsity" and everyone knew something big was up. When they found out their assignment, a moan went up from the men. But, being good soldiers as they were, they quickly got down to business and set their minds to learn the best they could, how to bring one of those flimsy crafts to the ground. The non-coms were given three days of instruction. This included ground training in wooden mockups of the CG-4A where they learned from the pilots how to coordinate the steering wheel with the foot pedals.
Then they went up for a flight. The first time they only observed the actions of the pilot and did not touch the controls. On the second time up, they laid their hands on the wheel and put their feet on the pedals, but only to feel the action of their pilot instructor. The third time was crunch time! While in tow, Bob said he was told to take the controls and hold it steady. It bucked and weaved and Bob swallowed hard as he fought to keep it level. Then it was cutaway time! The relative ease at which the glider the flew buoyed Bob's confidence until he began to realize he was coming down fast! Before he knew it, there was the ground rushing up to meet him! At about 80mph Bob slammed into the airport runway and the whole glider shuttered and rattled. Bob's teeth jarred as he bounced and slammed down again. It was a rough landing, but he had actually landed the thing and it was still in one piece. The training behind him, Bob then began to "sweat out" the Airborne operation itself. He not only had his own neck and that of his men to worry about, now he had to worry about if he had to land that glider under combat conditions.
On the big day, March 24, 1945, Bob was plenty "up tight" about how he would fare. Finally, he decided to put it all behind him and concentrate on his duty as platoon sergeant and trust the good Lord to guide their pilot safely to the ground. Apparently, that was a good decision as everything went smoothly that hectic day. The pilot had no heart attack and was not wounded during the flight and Bob was not called upon to demonstrate his flying skills. That's a fact, Bob says, that was also greatly appreciated by the men in his glider load. "From the time we took off until the time the glider came to a stop, I prayed for the glider pilot's good health", Bob said. "With that much going for him, how could he have had anything happen to him?"
There must have been prayers going up from the other gliders that had the "part-time glider drivers" because as far as Bob knows, none of the other non-coms had to take over the controls. All made it to the DZs safely.
For his experience, Bob received a small pair of glider wings. There was, however, no documentation made in his personal file and Bob assures all that he is not to be considered a competent glider pilot!
Scions Research Trip To The National Archives
by Melanie Sembrat
On November 9th, members of the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division returned to the National Archives in College Park Maryland to continue work that had been started by Ed Siergiej and Peter Schleck the day before - namely, to review all material pertaining to the 17th Airborne Division.
Peter, Ed, Cindy, and Melanie all took a set of boxes of the archived material and went to work. Scanning and photographing is allowed, but photography must include only the material you have requested - no photos with the room or anyone in the Archives in the background are allowed. After a long but fascinating morning of reading, scanning, and photographing, it was time for a lunch break; we went in two shifts so as to not have to re-file all the material, as it cannot be left unsupervised.
Back at our tables, we continued to discover more notes, drawings, courier notes, map overlays, and other correspondence - all pertaining to the activities of the 17th Airborne Division.
It was a long, but very fruitful, day; we hope to return in 2012 periodically to gather more information. We plan to (somehow) catalog and/or organize the material in a more detailed way than it is now; our hope is that we can become even more of a resource for those interested in the history of the 17th Airborne Division.
Daughter of Harry Sembrat - 17th ABN, 513th PIR
Summary of work done on 11/8/12 and 11/9/12
by Ed Siergiej Jr
Archives Team - Peter Schleck, Ed Siergiej Jr, Melanie Sembrat, Cindy Heigl
Boxes pulled 48, Boxes remaining – Unknown
Pages Scanned – 600 +
Films copied - 2
Hours spent – 48
Division History 1943 to 1945 – 222 pages
193rd GIR at the Bulge – 6 pages
193rd GIR, 2nd Battalion North of Mande-St-Entienne – 7 pages
193rd Glider Infantry Regiment – 11 pages
194th GIR, 2nd Battalion History – Operation Varsity – 7 pages
194th Casualty lists – Ardennes & Central Europe – 20 pages
194th Regimental History – 7 pages
194th Reports – 1/3/45 to 1/27/45 – 15 pages
Handwritten draft “Narrative of Facts” – 3/24/45 – 13 pages
194th Journals – 1/4/45 thru 1/12/45 – 86 pages
194th Map overlays – 2 pages
513th documents - 200 pages
In addition to the material listed above, Peter Schleck searched for records pertaining to Charlie Jones. As reported in a previous newsletter, Col. John Kormann is working hard to upgrade Charlie Jones Silver Star to the Medel of Honor.
Now that we are back from the Archives, the task of reviewing each scan, identifying them, and organizing them can begin. Each scan is in a PDF format, but some have to be rotated to be readable.
We hope to get the most interesting documents up on our website as soon as it is launched. Some of the most fascinating documents found were the minute by minute journals that were recorded at Regimental HQ from radio, phone, and oral messages that were sent in from the line companys in contact with the enemy.
In summary, there are a large number of documents about the 17th at the Archives. We "pulled" the first 48 boxes (enough to fill two carts), and were able to do a rough inventory of them and scan the records that we felt would be of most interest. At this point we do not know the full extent of the files, but based on the level of detail in what we have seen so far we feel that many treasures remain to be found. We have just scratched the surface at this point. If we have any Scions in the greater D.C. area that would like to assist with this project, please contact us at Scionsofthe17thAirborne@gmail.com. Peter Schleck has agreed to be the custodian of our scanner so that when any other visits are made, the equipment will be available. Many thanks go out to Peter for being the point person for this project. Without his help, we would not have had any idea about how to approach this project.
Page 1 of a Document Found at the National Archives
National WWII Museum Exhibit on POW's
Contributed by Kerry Mclaughlin
My father's best friend, Marty Schlocker, was taken POW on January 7,1945 as my father, still MIA, was killed by a German 88. Marty was forced to march a long distance, packed into railroad cars and taken to Stalag IXB, possibly the most notorious of the German POW camps. His dog tags did not identify him as Jewish and his surname sounded German, thus probably saving his life. The camp was liberated at the end of the war. This article shows the German plan to exterminate Jews did not end at the POW perimeter. I am fortunate to be able to consider Marty my good friend. - Mac
Guests of the Third Reich:' National WW2 Museum shows Allied POWs' lives in Nazi camps
NEW ORLEANS – A violin made from bed slats, a bomber jacket, and journals filled with humor, nostalgia, sorrow and boredom help to tell the stories of the 92,820 Allied soldiers held in nearly 100 Nazi prisoner of war camps. "Guests of the Third Reich," an exhibit opening on Veterans Day at the National World War II Museum is about those "Kriegies," as they called themselves — short for "Kriegsgefangener," German for "prisoner of war." Items on display through July 7 are among those to be shown in the Liberation Pavilion planned for completion in 2016. That pavilion will also have a section about POWs held in brutal Japanese POW camps where more than 40 percent of the 27,465 Americans captured in the Pacific died. But of 93,941 who surrendered to Germany, 92,820 survived. Japan had not ratified the Geneva Conventions for humane treatment of POWs. Germany had, and generally followed its requirements.
Not always. One part of the exhibit is about POWs who were sent to concentration camps or executed. Those in the concentration camps included 350 Americans sent from Stalag IXB to the slave labor camp in Berga because they were or "looked" Jewish, and 168 Allied airmen sent to nearby Buchenwald.
Another 362 American POWS and more than 100 Belgians were killed in groups, including 84 shot in the "Malmedy Massacre," a mass killing first reported by Associated Press war correspondent Hal Boyle.
The exhibit is divided in five sections: Capture, Camp Life, Liberation, Global Conflict — which includes the "War Crimes" area — and After the Camps.
Camp Life includes seven "wartime logs" — diaries provided by the YMCA to be sent in Red Cross packages for POWs. Their contents have been scanned and put on iPads so visitors can page through them. "There's probably about 700 pages in all if you read all of them," said curator Kimberly Guise. Some of the diaries' contents also are on the website set up for the exhibit.
Early American POWs were airmen, who hit the ground at a rate of about 400 a month in 1943. Then came the Battle of the Bulge, when nearly 23,000 Americans, most of them infantry, were captured in December 1944. Most of the logs include drawings of burning aircraft or memorials to dead crewmen, Guise said. The men also described lighter moments.
"There are a number of ways we spend our spare time. As I sit here writing this, there are two across from me studying French, some are playing cards, others are reading books, the rest have the two guitars, anything to keep your mind occupied and not think of home," wrote Bruce L. Worrell, captured in Italy in May 1994 during service with the 85th Infantry Division's 359th Infantry Regiment and held at Stalag IIB. Guise said, "There were whole colleges that were set up. They called them barbed-wire universities."
The diaries, each printed with the title "A Wartime Log," also include home addresses of men in the camp, cartoons, drawings of other POWs — sometimes with comments by other soldiers and airmen — maps, photographs from home, and lovingly detailed drawings of U.S. bombers and of pinup girls, sometimes together. There also are programs and even photographs of plays put on by POWs, collections of cigarettes and of military patches, and a lot of verse. There are song parodies and also verses clipped from magazines and newspapers. Some may have been written by the POW; others are written from memory. Some were copied and recopied from log to log. Guise said she was struck by a parody of "Thanks for the Memories" that showed up in several logs. "It sounds unbelievable — something that would be in 'Hogan's Heroes' or a comedy film," she said. The flight jacket was worn by Paul Hayslip, the only crewman on the B-26 bomber "Ramblin' Wreck" who was able to parachute to safety before it crashed. A photograph shows him and his crew at Louisiana's Barksdale Field, now Barksdale Air Force Base. The violin's neck was whittled from a chair leg by Clair Cline, an Army Air Corps pilot captured in Holland and held in Stalag I after his B-24 was shot down in February 1944. He and others scraped glue from chairs to hold it together.
"It traveled the country in 1946 as part of an exhibition of POW life," Guice said. She said Cline's son, grandson and granddaughter, all professional string players, offered it while she was planning the exhibit. Cline himself was a carpenter after the war, she said.
If You Go...
GUESTS OF THE THIRD REICH: Through July 7, 2013 at the National WWII Museum, 945 Magazine St., New Orleans, http://www.nationalww2museum.org
. Adults, $21, seniors, $18, children 5-12, $12. Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Register Now for the Lancaster PA "Operation Varsity" Gathering
by Michele Smith
TO OUR SCIONS
In this Thanksgiving Season, we are thankful for all of our Veterans, but especially our 17th Airborne Family! Our annual Lancaster Reunion gives us a GREAT opportunity to spend time with these heroes. Last year's reunion saw many new Scions in attendance. We are hoping for an even larger turnout this year. Even if you are a first timer, you will feel like family the moment you walk in the door. We want you to have the same fun and camaraderie that we have experienced over the years. WE NEED YOU, SCIONS, TO GET INVOLVED TO CARRY ON THE LEGACY OF THE 17TH AIRBORNE. This gathering, and ones like it, gives us the opportunity to get together to share ideas as to how we are going to accomplish this mission and at the same time have lots of fun. Most importantly, it also gives you a chance to interact with the Veterans and hear first hand their amazing stories of courage during WWII. Treat yourself to a few days of a special, worthwhile vacation and COME JOIN US. It's a memory you will cherish for a lifetime. If you can attend and also bring your 17th Trooper it would be an added blessing. Please refer to the following for all of the details. Remember the area is a busy tourist attraction all year round so call and reserve your room ASAP. A major credit card will hold your room - you will not be charged until the reunion is over and you always have 48 hours prior to the start date of the reunion to cancel if you have to. Make sure you mention you are a part of the 17th Airborne Group when reserving. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!
Since March 24th falls over the Easter holiday in 2013, the dates of the Reunion will be Sunday March 10, 2013 to Thursday March 14th 2013. Once again, the Steamboat has offered us a FABULOUS package deal! The daily room rates are $98.78 for a single, $138.79 for a double, $178.80 for a Triple, and $218.81 for a Quad. This price INCLUDES your Room, Breakfast and Dinner in Huckleberry's Restaurant located on the main floor of the Inn, Taxes and Gratuities. All who have attended in the past know that the food, served family style, is delicious and plentiful! A private Hospitality Room is provided for us for our entire stay. PLEASE MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BY CALLING DIRECT AT 1-717-299-9999 OR 1-800-922-2229. MAKE SURE YOU MENTION YOU ARE WITH THE 17TH AIRBORNE GROUP WHEN YOU CALL SO THAT YOU ARE GIVEN THE PACKAGE DEAL.
Another page from the 194th Regimental History, Relating Operation Varsity
Help Wanted to do Transcription Work
by Ed Siergiej Jr.
One of the projects that the Scions would like to take on is the transcription of the roster of names in Don Pay’s book “Thunder From Heaven”, published in 1947. This roster of names is not 100% accurate, but is the most complete roster that has been found. The roster is 189 pages, three columns per page, and 87 names per column. That adds up to 49,329 names. In most cases the regiment that the trooper belonged to is indicated, as well as a notation if the trooper was wounded or killed.
Often, we get a message from someone looking for information on a particular trooper; a son, grandson, niece, who wants to know more about their 17th Airborne relative. This list is the first place we look to narrow down the search.
We would like to transcribe this information into a spreadsheet, so that it can be sorted by unit. Entering the information will take some time, patience and attention to detail.
If anyone would like to take on this project, please let us know. It would be a valuable asset as we work to connect descendants of our troopers with the details of their service. You can contact us at “Scionsofthe17thAirborne@gmail.com”
New Book About Operation Varstiy
The Last Drop
By Steve Wright
With contributions from British, Canadian and American veterans, supported by clear concise maps, the book describes the whole story of the airborne crossing of the Rhine.
The Last Drop is published by Stackpole Books and available from Amazon, in hardback or Kindle format; or you may order it through your ,local book store.
"Die Luftlanding" To Be Translated Into English!
By Jos Bex
Meeting Johann J. Nitrowski, the author of Op. Varsity book “Die Luftlandung”
Johann J. Nitrowski was born on November 14th 1928 and lived all of his youth in Kamp Lintfort, a small community on the west side of the Rhine, about 50km NW of Düsseldorf.
In November 1944 ,at the age of 16 , he was ordered to the German Army enlisting bureau. As a high school student he was send to the officers candidate school in Stralsund near the Baltic Sea, but he failed the physical tests so the Wehrmacht was the only option for him. Again he had to go to an enlisting bureau but now in Moers 30km south east of where he lived. On arrival the building had been bombed out totally, so he went straight home again.
It was the same time in early March 1945 when the Allied were about to enter Germany as his father advised him to join his mother who had been staying at her sisters’ in Eastern Germany. He would be safer there. So there he went on his bicycle with nothing more than a bag full of clothes to make the 300 km eastbound. After finally arriving at his aunt’s house he was told he could not stay very long, so he decided to go back to his father. It was total chaos in Germany during that period, and young Johann was halted in some village in the Sauerland area where a German Field Gendarmerie soldier asked him to show some papers. Nitrowski showed him his new Wehrmacht pass. At that very moment something happened that would change his life forever and was one of two reasons to start writing about Op. Varsity.
The German Field Gendarmerie soldier looked down at the boy and without a doubt he put the pass in his pocket and told young Nitrowski to travel a.s.a.p. back to his father. The soldier turned around and Nitrowski went home. In the mean time Op. Varsity was over, something the Field Gendarmerie soldier must have known…..
In 1961 Johann Nitrowski, now a teacher at grammar school, moved to Hamminkeln where he started a new job as head master. Living there he constantly heard the stories about Op. Varsity told by the local people. Hearing all that he decided to study history at the university. After passing for his degree he started to gather information about Op. Varsity and thus writing “Die Luftlandung, das Kriegsende im Gebiet Hamminkeln und Wesel” translated as “The Airborne landing, the end of war in the Hamminkeln and Wesel areas”. The second reason to start writing about Op. Varsity. His book was finished in 1997.
On November 26th 2012 Mr. Nitrowski and I met at his house in Hamminkeln where we talked about his book and presented him the 17th AB Scions Honorary membership certificate Michelle Smith had send to me. He said he was honored to receive this award. We had a very good conversation where he told me about his earlier meeting with British and 17th AB members. He remembered Joe Quade, Ken Aumock and “a long bearded man”…. that must have been Clyde Priester?? He also gave me his personal permission to translate “Die Luftlandung” into English, and I am doing my very best to finish the translation by March 2013 to present the first edition at the Steamboat Inn meeting in Lancaster PA.
Editors Note: Over the last few years, several attempts have been made to get the authors permission to translate this book into English. All had been unsuccessful, as the author wanted to insure the accuracy of the translation. Many thanks go out to Jos Bex for getting the OK to move forward. Now, we will be able to do more than just look at the photos! Ed Siergiej Jr.
Scion Hats Available
Show your pride to be a Scion of the 17th Airborne Division
The sample hats that we had made up for the Lancaster, PA Operation Varsity gathering sold out very quickly, so we had some more made up. Available in Blue, Black, or Red, these hats have our Scion patch sewn on.
We also have additional Scion patches identical to those included in the packages sent to new members. Makes a great holiday gift! A $ 25.00 donation requested for each hat.
The Patches are 3.5" H x 3" W and are available for $2.00.
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
|From Isaac Epps (Scion Chaplain and Historian)
I had an opportunity to speak with Bill Tom yesterday. He reports that he
is doing his daily walks and is feeling stronger from that exercise.
His eyesight is slowly improving, and he looks forward to getting back
to work on his computer. He is most thankful for the continuing support
of his wonderful family; and he can't wait until the 49ers repeat as
Super Bowl champions next year.
As usual, he expressed his thanks and his pride in the Scions' effort
to make sure the service of the 17th Airborne Division is included in
the story of WWII.
Bill and Linda Tom Celebrate With Their Family
Submit Your Article
The Scions welcome articles or information for our newsletter. Did you make a trip to Europe to visit the areas where the 17th served, or read a book with information about the 17th that you would like to share with others? Send us an email to "Scionsofthe17thairborne@gmail.com". We will do our best to include your material in a future newsletter.
Joseph Topich (194 C)
TOPICH, Joseph, III, 87, of Cincinnati formerly of Steubenville, died Sunday, July 22, 2012, at Hospice of Cincinnati.
He was born Aug. 15, 1924, in Bradley, OH, the son of the late Joseph, Jr. and Veronica Kovarik Topich.
Joseph was a member of the former St. Pius the X Catholic Church, was retired from Weirton Steel where he was a Scheduler in the Tandem Mill in the Strip Steel Department and served his country in the U.S. Army during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
Joseph is also preceded in death by his son, Dr. James Topich and an infant sister, Norma.
Joseph is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mafalda L. (Buccieri) Topich, his sister, Helen (Topich ) Morelli, his son, Dr. JosephTopich IV, (wife Ruth), his grandchildren, Joseph Topich (wife Heather), Jenifer Rafey (husband Carl), James Topich (wife Jill), Judith Topich, John Topich (wife Corie); great-grandchildren, Colleen Rafey, Kathleen Rafey, Zachary Topich, Carleen Rafey, Isabella Topich, Jodie Topich, Kristeen Rafey, James Topich, Carson Rafey, Anna Topich. He spent the final years with the things that he valued most, his wife and family.
Calling hours are 5-7 p.m. Thursday at the Mosti Funeral Home, Sunset Chapel, 4435 Sunset Blvd. A Funeral Liturgy with Mass will be celebrated 10 a.m. Friday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Fr. Bradley Greer, celebrant. Burial in Mt. Calvary Cemetery. There will be a vigil service 5 p.m. Thursday.
From Marty Cavanah
I wanted to pass on the sad news that Lawton Clark passed away this past Sunday November 18, 2012. He had been in hospice for the past 10 days. I spoke with his wife Pat and daughter Peggy today. The advised that the funeral will be on Saturday December 1st after the Thanksgiving holidays. My Dad Kenny Cavanah was able to talk with Lawton last week over the phone. The became friends during the war and had reconnected at the 17th Airborne reunion in Branson, Missouri. They spoke almost weekly since then. The funeral will be held in Amarillo, Texas where he made his home about 5 years ago. The obituary should be in the Amarillo newspaper this Thursday. I will attach a photo from his days during the war and one taken at an Army reunion. Marty Cavanah
Aloyisus Hummel (139th)
Just wanted to let you know that my Dad passed away Tuesday the 13th a couple months after suffering a heart attack. He will be buried at the national cemetery at Brunell Fl on Tuesday the 20th. So the 17th lost another one of its members. My Dad was proud to be counted among those who fought and served in the 17th. Thank you for all you do keeping their memory alive.
Jeff Bellinger ,stepson of Aloyisus Hummel, (139)
RICHARD L.WISE - 194 C
From: Kerri Whitaker, granddaughter of Richard Wise - 194 C
To: Ed Siergiej Sr.
Thank you so much for contacting me about grandpa. I was blessed to have him in my life and he is greatly missed.
My father and my brother attended the French Lick reunion with him in 1987 and my brother and I were just looking at the photos from that reunion this past weekend. I was telling my father about the Scions last month and he told me that he thought your name sounded so familar. I will be sure to tell him that he was correct.
Both my brother and my father will be joining the Scions membership in the next few weeks.
Did you know grandpa well during your time in the service? I have quite a few photos that I would be more than happy to share with you if you would like. I posted one of the group photos on the Scions Facebook page a couple of months ago. When grandpa passed away dad received all of his military photos and war related items.
The following is his obituary from the Martinsburg journal:
Richard L. Wise, 85, of Martinsburg, went to be with Jesus Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at his home.
Born December 15, 1924 in Berkeley County, he was the son of the late William F. Wise and Hazel Pearrell Wise.
He was a veteran World War II serving in the US Army with the l94th Glider Infantry the 17th and 82nd Air Borne Paratrooper Division. He was in the Battle of the Bulge during the Ardennes Rhineland Central Europe Campaigns and was decorated with the Purple Heart.Mr. Wise retired from the VA Medical Center after 30 years of service.
He was an active member of the Grace Wesleyan Church.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Vernie Weatherholtz Wise; three sons, Donald and wife, Sherrie Wise, of Kentucky, Richard Wise, Jr., of Indianapolis, IN, and Danny and Tammy Wise, of Martinsburg; two daughters, Linda and Gary Dyche, of Martinsburg and Sherry and Gary Trussell, of Charles Town; nine grandchildren; three adopted grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild and one sister, Nancy Ashby, of Arlington, TX.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Angela Dyche; four brothers, Earl, Roy, Elmer and Bernard Wise; three sisters, Evelyn Laing, Wanda Russell, and Anna Mae Miller.
Warren Myers - 513 F
Warren Myers, 90, of Port Richey, Florida, died on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 following complications from a stroke. Born in Waveland, IN, on October 29, 1921, he lived most of his life in Indiana.
He married Viola Marie Cook on September 18, 1944. Shortly afterward he was shipped to Europe as a member the 17th Airborne Division. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and took part in Operation Varsity, the largest single-day airborne operation in history.
Mr. Myers was self-employed in the restaurant business for over 40 years. He and his wife owned and operated a number of restaurants in and near Attica, Indiana, where they raised their family. Mr. Myers was a Freemason and loved to play golf. Mr. and Mrs. Myers spent their later years enjoying the warm weather in Port Richey, FL.
Mr. Myers was preceded in death by his wife “Cookie” on Thursday, June 29, 2000, by a son in 1969, and by two brothers.
Mr. Myers is survived by a brother, Robert Myers of Sycamore, IL, and a sister, Helen McCampbell of Rockville, IN. Five sons, Bill, John, Larry, Frank, and Steve survive, as do 22 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
From Steve Myers,
The obituary for my Dad, Warren Myers (513 F) is attached, along with a photo taken on his 89th birthday. His health deteriorated shortly after that; this is the last picture that I have of when he was still fully "himself". Also there is a picture of my Dad and Mom taken in 1944. Scions...that means descendants doesn't it? Is that a new group? Can I join?
Editors Note: Steve, the Scions would be honored to have you join us. We exist to honor the service of all 17th veterans, and to tell their story. Information about joining the group is at the bottom of the newsletter.
17th Airborne Mail Call
Thank you all for your service! I'm wondering if any of you would remember my Uncle, S/Sgt. Phillip F. Dattilo who served with H.Q. Company of the 17th Airborne Division at Ardennes and Bastogne. He was my Dad's brother from Columbus, Ohio, and worked for General Motors after the war until he retired. He passe away several years ago, but gave me some of his \"momentos\" that he brought home with him which I've had put away for years. I followed in his footsteps and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1961, honorably discharged in 1966, also as a S/Sgt. Any information on him would be very much appreciated.
My father in law was assigned to the 17th Airborne Division. He was either in the 193 or 194 GIR. His name was Donald Lee Gettler. He passed on 10/04/12. He was 20 yrs old when he went into combat with his unit.
I hope you can help me.My Father was a Paratrooper with the 17th, he was from Jerome Arizona. My question is I possible to find any pictures of him in his unit, I would greatly appreciate any information I could get. i can be reached at the following # 602-944-4225
. Thank you for you time.
Editors Note: We have been working with Robert and have determined that his father, Esteban R. Gutierrez, was with the 513th PIR. If anyone knew Esteban, please contact his son Robert at the email address above.
My name is Andrew Woolhouse and I am researching the British 13th Parachute Battalion for a book. During my research I discovered that part of the 17th AB Div may have dropped onto the 6th Airborne Division’s DZ. I believe that this was G Company. I was hoping that you may be in contact with some of the surviving veterans who fought with the 6th AB Dive for a while, so that I could include their comments in my book. Do you have any accounts of any such events that veterans have written or recorded?
Below is some extracts from accounts/interviews I have.
Lieutenant Ellis “Dixie” Dean MC (MMG Platoon)
“Evidence of the violent reaction by some Ack-Ack guns lay all-around. In the next field to us, an American ‘Curtis Commando’ had forced landed. The GI’s were un-injured and for a time stiffened our defences.
Sergeant Arthur Laycock (MMG Platoon)
“At the MDS, several orderlies were dealing with British, American and German wounded. I, myself was treated by a German doctor. I was left to lay with the others with a rolled up piece of parachute for a pillow. The next day I was put on a plane and flown back to England, where I was to spend the next 15 months in various hospitals.”
Captain David Tibbs MC (RAMC)
“As MO I joined in and from time to time relieved a man who was having difficulty in carrying a heavy load (such as a machine gun barrel or mortar base plate), and had to admit that it was very tough going! The British paratrooper was renowned for his ability to march and had had very hard training in this. The American paratroops, which were still with us, were quite unused to marching but stuck it out very well. I had to give their feet repeated attention for blisters they showed great spirit and we were sorry to see them go a few days later.”
Editors Note: If any veteran recalls the events that Andrew is interested in, please contact him at the email address above
Xavier van daele
Hi my friends Ed's!!
I hope you are well...
You would like some details from my book.
Title: Tonnerre du Ciel - L'histoire de la 17th Airborne Division 1943-1945 (yes... in french... And unfortunably only in french)
I am looking for an editor to edit the U.S.A in English! But it is very difficult! I have been in contact with a writer who has asked his agent. He is the agent of Mark Bando who wrote many books on the 101st ... But the agent refused because the 17th Airborne is not enough known ... This is not "commercial".
If you would like some information, send me...
Editors Note: If we have someone who can help Xavier to translate his book from French into English, please contact him email@example.com or contact the Scions at Scionsofthe17thairborne@gmail.com
From Denise Jefferson Griffith
Dear Cindy, Melanie, Robert, Isaac, & Ed;
I am e-mailing you in regards to my father, Edwin R. Jefferson - who wanted to respond to the July Newsletter.
I thought that it would be of interest to the Thunder from Heaven and Alfred Vadder.
E-mail me in response if you are able,
Denise Jefferson Griffith
P.S. Attached is my father's response to the Article pertaining to Alfred Vadder
"Scions of the 17th Airborne
I am writing in response to a recent article written in theJuly 26th “Thunder Mail Call”. A man by the name of Alfred Vadderhas requested for any information regarding the battle fought in Halt on March30, 1945. I am not sure if this could be of any interest to his search but Iwill share what I remember on that date.
I remember riding on the top of a tank on the outskirts of atown called Bulderm around 3-4 on the morning of March 30. The sky was prettybright from some of the houses that were burning as we traveled toward Bulderm.As we drove by a 2 story brick house with an iron fence around it I noticed aGerman soldier in the shrubbery. As I was trying to focus on the moving targetI lifted my gun but before I could get a shot off I was shot. They stopped thetank and the machine gunner who was sitting right next to me helped me get downoff the tank-his name was Vergil Gent. I also remember the medic who took careof me- a Robert A. Starnes and I think he lived in Texas. I asked about him atthe early reunions but was told he never attended any reunions. I read that hereceived a “Bronze Star” and a CM. I don’t know if this is the medic AlfredVadder is searching for or if this is helpful toward his search. I’d like toknow if anyone else remembers heading into the town of Bulderm on the earlymorning of March 30, 1945.
Edwin R. Jefferson
Co H 513th"
From Simon in the UK
I received the July issue of TMC and was surprised to see that you have been hospitalised recently. I hope that everything is now sorted and that Linda and the grand children will continue to assist in your swift recovery.
Wishing you all good wishes and looking forward to seeing you upright again,
Thank you for your good wishes. I am recovering but have vision problems that make it difficult for me to send out e-mail.
From Larry McLellan
I look forward to receiving the member packet. In the mean time, I am trying to compile a detailed account of my father's WWII experiences as a member of the 550th Airborne Battalion and the 194th GIB. Unfortunately, his military records were destroyed in the 1973 National Personnel Records fire and I'm unable to confirm his activity during the 17th European activities. Is there any way, to request through the organization any member's knowledge of my Dad and his experiences?
Thanks for your reply. We can do three things to hopefully find out something more about your fathers time with the 17th.
First, I am cc'ing this to my dad who still maintains the records for the 17th Airborne Division Association. He may have some info on file if your dad belonged to the association at some point.
Next, I will put your message in our next newsletter, perhaps some of the veterans may know something.
Lastly, you can put a posting on the Facebook page which gets a lot of views. This page has been a big help in connecting people.
Ed Siergiej Jr
Scions Robert and James Blethrow, sons of Harry Blethrow (155 D), report that they had a recent visit with Bill K Tom at his "Aerie" in the SF Bay area. Linda and he were gracious hosts to their "mini reunion"
Can u please tell me what this pin represents? My dad served in the 17th airborne division in 1944-1945 and his name is Frank Mitchell, Jr. I believe he was a corporal. Thanks for any help you can offer me. I am desperately trying to put the pieces all together, but no one seems to know him. Unfortunately, the fire in St. Louis put an end to my finding any concrete evidence. Thank you for serving our country. You are not forgotten. God bless you!
The pin bears a resemblance to many collar insignia of Nazi SS regiments. While I could not find one that perfectly matched the pin you have , there were collar insignia that were close. My guess is that the pin was something that an SS man might wear to identify him, when he was wearing civilian clothes. However, I could be wrong. I do not recall ever seeing a pin like it. I checked an authoritative book on SS uniforms and regalia.
I hope you will honor your father and his service to his country by joining the Scions the of the 17th Airborne.
17th Airborne veteran John Schumacher representing the 17th
at the Coon Rapids, Iowa Veterans Day Ceremony
I would like to share this with you and all of the Scions.
Three years ago our family was in the middle of the worst period of our lives with our son Quinten battling cancer when he was just 7 years old. He received tremendous support from friends of the 17th Airborne as he received a lot of cards and gifts. This made Quinten feel special and it made the situation a bit easier for us to live with. I tried to thank everybody personally as best as I could and I am sure that I missed some people. With this message I still would like to express our THANKS to all of the 17th Airborne family for their support back then.
Now, almost three years later, Quinten had his last series of tests at the hospital at the beginning November and the results were all right. Nothing was seen on photos and scans and that was a great relief for us. Quinten is almost three years cancer free now and let's hope there will be many, many more years to come.
Quinten made this drawing for you all to wish you all and personally a Merry Christmas this year. Our family has the 17th Airborne family in its thoughts always.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Flohr Family.
Editors Note: Erwin, We are so very happy that Quinten is doing well this Christmas. We thank him for the beautiful drawing. Merry Christmas to your whole family. (Ed Siergiej Jr.)
Regular membership in the "Scions of the 17th Airborne" is open to any descendant, or family member of any trooper who served with the 17th during its existence. Our mission is to insure that the sacrifice and history of the 17th Airborne Division is not forgotten. All veterans of the 17th are considered as "Distinguished Honorary Members" of the Scions. We exist to honor you, the veterans.
Contact the Scions at Scionsofthe17thAirborne@gmail.com.
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)"
Within the next few months , the Scions will have a website up and running. 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. Will be communicating the details of our website, when it is made active. Many thanks go out to Scion Danny Carter, who is assisting us in setting up the website!
The Scions will hold our 2nd annual meeting this November in Arlington VA, in conjunction with the ceremony at the monument to the 17th in Arlington National Cemetery.
Please consider passing this on to your children and grandchildren, if they are not already members. As our membership grows, we can take on new projects of value.
Rose Friday, daughter of Edward Friday (194th) - President
Michele Smith, daughter of Bill Smith (466th) - Vice President
Ed Siergiej Jr, son of Edward J. Siergiej (194th) - Sec./Tres.
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)