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 # 19 - April 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
-   Trooper Stories - Adolph Martinez Jr. (513/C) Honored at
     Airborne Awards Festival - by Mike Martinez

-  John Leather returns to the ETO

-  Wheeling WV Operation Varsity Gathering - by Nancy Lauria

-   Lancaster, PA Operation Varsity Gathering - by Michele Smith

-   Scions 2013 Gathering Schedule

-   Plan now for the Veterans Day Ceremony at Arlington National

    Scions to Invade Europe in 2015
    by Jeff Schumacher

-   Scions Memorial Fund
     by Ed Siergiej Jr.

-   Welcome New Scion Members

-   Chaplain's Corner
     by Isaac Epps, Scion Chaplain

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

-  17th Airborne Online Store

-   Become a Member of the Scions of the 17th Airborne
Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom

- Letters From Home and Abroad

-  Sick Call

 Do You Know of a Veteran Who Does Not Use Email?
Each month this newsletter, "Thunder From Heaven" goes out to almost 500 members of the 17th Airborne family.  We know that some of our veterans no longer use, or have never used email.  Scion Kerri Whitaker, grand daughter of Richard L. Wise (194/C), has volunteered to send hard copies of the newsletter to our veterans each month, and has been doing so for a number of months now. 
 If you know of a veteran who would like a copy of the newsletter, please let us know, and we will add them to the list.
Just send an email to:
 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:

"Trooper of the Year" Honor Awarded To WWII Veteran
Adolph L. Martinez, Jr., 17th Airborne Division (513/C)

(Combat Veteran, Battle of the Bulge, POW-Escaped)

by Scion Mike Martinez
On April 5th, 2014, Adolph L Martinez, Jr (PFC, 3rd Platoon, C Company, 513 PIR, 17th AB Division) was honored as the "Trooper of the Year" at the 37th Annual Airborne Awards Festival in Atlanta GA.
The theme of this year's Airborne Festival was the 70th Anniversary of the invasion of Normandy (D-Day) featuring keynote speaker Lieutenant General (Retired) John M. LeMoyne, former Commanding General of Ft. Benning and a highly decorated combat veteran.
The festival was attended by veterans (and their families) of the 11th, 13th, 17th, 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The gathering was attended by AB Veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts involving US Airborne Troops over the last 70 years.
Adolph traveled from his home in Palmdale, California, accompanied by sons Bill Martinez, Mike Martinez, Greg Martinez & Rick Martinez, plus daughter Diane Morrow, and grandson Jeremy Martinez. Adolph was honored at the Airborne Awards Dinner on Saturday night April 5th and presented the MOTY award by Troy E. "Gil" Gilleland, Jr., Colonel (Retired), Chairman Atlanta All Airborne Chapter.
The four day event included a Memorial Luncheon on Thursday, April 3, and a field trip to Ft. Benning on Friday, April 4. The Benning trip included attending graduation ceremonies of the Airborne Ranger Class of 2014, a wreath laying ceremony at the Airborne Walk, and a visit to the Airborne Museum (a remarkable facility, not to be missed).
Isaac Epps of Scions fame was instrumental in helping coordinate the event and seemed to be everywhere all at once! The hospitality suite was a welcome gathering spot for veterans and their families. The Martinez clan was welcomed by all and Adolph represented the 17th Airborne and the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division with distinction.
A few of Adolph's many stories...
It was the coldest January on record in Belgium and the sub-zero temperatures took a toll on both man and equipment. Yet on January 4th, 1945, the 17th Airborne attacked! The 194th GIR was on the division's left flank moving toward Rechrival, and the 513th PIR was on the right flank moving toward Bastogne. It was a royal SNAFU! The original attack date had been set for January 7th. The division's artillery units were not notified of the date change to January 4.
They moved out into the snow-laden Belgian Ardennes in a counter-offensive attack on entrenched German positions during the Battle of the Bulge.  C Company 513th engaged the enemy just outside of Flamierge, about 50 kilometers southwest of Saint Vith and 10 kilometers northwest of Bastogne. Their mission was to fight their way into Bastogne and join up with the 101st.
Early in the day they came upon a heavily-defended German position within a farmhouse with a stone manger in an open area. A fierce fire fight ensued and C Company took the position. After taking the farmhouse (and 18-20 German prisoners) C Company sent their German POWs back for interrogation and began setting up their weaponry in and around the foxholes previously occupied by the Germans. These foxholes encircled the farmhouse and stone manger which also had a series of very large, very tall hay stacks leading away from the compound. But every time they set up a machine gun or mortar, incoming artillery fire would destroy the position.
Adolph and fellow trooper Beryl Grey made up a two-man mortar team. They were under a relentless German artillery barrage as they raced across an open road running alongside a snow-packed field. Adolph yelled "incoming" and dove into a ditch at the side of the road just as an 88 shell exploded near Beryl who was still crossing the road. The explosion blew Beryl off his feet and shrapnel struck his collar bone and took out much of his shoulder and neck. His neck was also broken by the concussion and he hit the ground unconscious and kicking. Adolph jumped out of his hole and pulled Beryl to safety. He emptied his sulfa powder into Beryl's wounds bandaged his unconscious buddy applying both pressure and prayers. After getting the bleeding under control, he called out "MEDIC!" Beryl was taken into the stone manger that had been taken by C Company earlier in the day and was laid inside along with about 20 other wounded men.
Up against heavy German armor, including the Führer Begleit Brigade, the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division and the 15th Panzergrenadier Division with little more than rifles, machine guns, bazookas and mortars, 3rd Platoon and all of C Company took a beating.  The artillery support they were promised in support of their advance had never arrived. Unfortunately the only artillery present that day were the German 88s which never stopped arriving! Heavily outgunned and thoroughly outnumbered, C Company fought until only a handful were left. Company C Commander Robert Kendrick was hit as he radioed the situation back to HQ. Platoon leader Lt. Ralph Kinnes was also wounded (twice) but he returned to 3rd Plattoon each time and was with his men when taken prisoner. He could have gone back with the wounded but he refused to leave his men...
The artillery and Tiger tank fire was withering and literally decimated C Company. At the end of the day a German Tiger tank drove up and lowered its turret gun inside the doorway on the stone manger, effectively capturing the wounded inside. One of the troopers still on his feet (Sandy Lunkamen) spoke German and jumped out of his foxhole calling to the tank commander in German "STOP! STOP! WHAT YOU GOING TO DO? THESE MEN ARE WOUNDED!" The tank commander replied that the remaining combatants must surrender or the wounded would be executed where they lay (inside the stone manger). HQ was contacted and a negotiated exchange was agreed upon. The German tank commander would allow the 513th wounded to be evacuated back to Allied lines by Red Cross trucks in exchange for the remaining 11 to 15 combatants to be taken prisoner.
Ultimately they discovered that although three of the four haystacks were ablaze from the fire fight, the fourth (and furthest away) hay stack was not on fire and there was a German soldier with a radio on top of it calling direct fire coordinates in on every gun position they set up.
After being surrendered by HQ to save the wounded, the captured C Company men were interrogated by a German SS Lieutenant who wanted to speak first with "the Mexican-American Paratrooper named Adolph".  "How did you get this name?" he asked. Adolph replied, "you can call me Adolfo" then he added name, rank and serial number... He repeated name, rank and serial number to every question thrown his way and was eventually returned to the other POWs.
They were then marched for eight days from Belgium to Germany and into Stalag XIIA at Limburg (near Frankfurt on the Main). Adolph says he discovered the best weight-reducing diet ever invented: walk from one country to another with little to no food or water and drop from 170 pounds to 120... One week later they were moved again, this time by train, to Stalag IVB near Mühlberg on the Elbe River, 50 miles south of Berlin.
Stalag XIIA contained American, British, Australian and Russian POWs. The camp was segregated with the Americans, British and Australians in one section and the Russians in another. Everyone had it rough with very little to eat but the Russians had the worst of it. The Russians were being starved to death...
Adolph met a fellow Trooper, Roy Rogel (of the 517th), and together they formed a plan to escape. They heard the Germans were forming a clean-up detail so they volunteered to help clean up Allied bombing debris in the city of Leipzig. They escaped from a makeshift POW camp in Leipzig on the day Roosevelt died (April 12, 1945) and began "liberating" vehicles as they made their way out of Germany. The war was coming to a close and they had an amazing series of adventures as escaped POWs in Nazi Germany.
At one point they broke into an abandoned Luftwaffe airbase (in the city of Halle) looking for supplies and found themselves in Hermann Göring's office, whose desk was filled with propaganda photos of Hitler, Göring, Eichmann, Goebbels, Himmler and the rest of the German High Command, all taken by the official Nazi photographer Heinrich Hoffmann. One of Göring's uniforms and a collapsible survival rifle taken from Göring's office by Adolph were later lost to an unscrupulous Army supply sergeant who offered to ship it all back to the States for them (never to be seen again). Adolph kept the photos with him and had them when he entered college on his return home.
Their adventure as escaped POWs making their way back to Allied lines even included the taking of 18 German prisoners who apparently preferred surrendering to unarmed escaped US POWs rather than face the wrath of the Red Army, who were NOT taking any German prisoners as they entered Germany from the north. The Russians lost over 20 million at the hands of the Nazis and the Red Army wanted vengeance.
After Adolph and Roy turned their German prisoners over to a unit of the 69th Infantry Division they continued their search for their own units and ultimately wound up at camp Lucky Strike on May 13th, 1945.
After returning home Adolph Martinez married Blanche Hull and fathered five sons and one daughter. He was also the model for statue No. 12 in the Korean War Memorial at the National Mall,
Washington DC. As fate would have it, fellow trooper Frank Gaylord (513th Co. C) also survived the Bulge, returned home and became a world renowned sculptor. After being awarded the commission to build the Korean War Memorial, Frank decided to use photos and drawings of several of his fellow WWII troopers as statue models for the memorial. Statue No. 1 is Captain Kendrick. Other statues include James Smith and Joe Vitale (513th Co. C) and Joe Quade (PM Co.)
Beryl Grey survived the war to become the Postmaster of Anna, Illinois (his hometown). He and Adolph were reunited about 35 years after the end of the war at a 17th Airborne reunion in San Jose, CA. The Grey family and the Martinez family remain close to this day.
Roy Rogel also survived the war and moved from New York to California,  where Adolph helped him land a job at Lockheed. However, Roy opted for a job at Boeing Aircraft in San Diego instead because of its proximity to the ocean where he became a volunteer Search and Rescue deep sea diver. There were many plans regarding Roy's many daughters and Adolph's many sons but alas the journey between San Diego and Los Angeles proved too great a distance for such romance...
Roy Rogel and Beryl Grey are gone now, along with other good friends like Layton Clark (194th GIR). Their names were called out during the Memorial Luncheon as we remembered those "special" comrades that have gone before. They and ALL the men and women who serve today and who have served in the past remain in our hearts and in our prayers... God bless them all...
Airborne! All the way!
Mike Martinez
Adolph Martinez Jr - 1943
Adolph with Honor Guard
Colors Are Presented
Adolph Receiving Award
Adolph Martinez with General LeMoyne
Adolph at Statue
Adolph at Statue
Martinez Family
17th Veteran John Leather Returns to the ETO
Honored by the "Dead Mans Ridge Walk" Organization

Each year, our friends of the "101st Belgian Friendly" organization sponsor a 17th trooper to return to Europe to visit the areas where he fought during WWII. This is a very well-planned and attended event to honor our veterans. Past troopers to be honored have included Mel Lagoon, John Schumacher, & Curt Gadd, among others.

Gregory DeCock, Secretary of the sponsoring organization has sent us many links to videos and written reports of these visits that will give you a taste what happens at these wonderful events.  Click on any of the links below and enjoy!

The Scions of the 17th Airborne are grateful to everyone involved in this wonderful event for the care that they gave to John and his family during their visit.  It is evident to anyone watching these videos, or who has had any contact with our many friends in Europe, that the sacrifices made by the 17th Airborne Division have not been forgotten. 

http://Dead Man's Ridge Walk 2014 Video (from SSgt David Meade, USAF)

Houmount Belgium John Leather Report (French language video)
Video made by Sgt Burke, Army Forces Network (Europe)

Belgian Language TV report on the 17th Airborne.

Newspaper Report from the Wesel, Germany paper on John Leather and his Trip (German language)
Another newspaper report on John Leather's trip (German language)
Excellent photo montage and another article on John Leather (French language)

Report on the Wheeling, WV 
Operation Varsity Gathering
by Nancy Lauria

The 22nd Annual 17th Airborne Varsity Reunion was held April 24th to April 27th, 2014, at the Hampton Inn, Wheeling, West Virginia.   In attendance were four veterans:

Col. John Kormann, Ed Good, Gene Herrmann and Leonard
Lindenbaum and their families.  We were a total of 21 attendees.

Leonard and his wife  live in Las Vegas, Nevada and this was the first reunion they have ever attended.  He is 90 years old and hopes to attend more Varsity reunions.

Bob Hitchman (owner/operator) of the Hampton and his entire staff  treated all of us as "royalty ".  He personally thanked each veteran for their service to our country.  The men were interviewed by Channel 9 and seen on the 11:00 P.M. news Saturday evening.   Also a reporter from the "Sunday News Register" interviewed and photographed the men.  Their picture and story was on  the front page of the newspaper.

Also in attendance was Roland Lane and his wife Julie.  Roland has attended the Varsity Reunions for more than 6 years.  He is a retired history teacher and plans to write a book about World War II, and the veterans of the 17th Airborne.  He videotapes each veteran as they tell their war time experiences.

We were also happy to see Joe Conway and his family.  Joe has attended many of our Varsity Reunions.  He is a collector of World War II memorabilia and enjoys talking with the men.  This year he brought his display of all the airborne patches.  Joe is in constant contact with Ralph Peeters of the Netherlands and other re-enactors in Europe who are  interested in the 17th Airborne.

We had a very enjoyable time, laughing, talking, eating and reminiscing about events during the war and previous reunions.   As always we remember all the veterans who are watching over us from "Airborne Heaven".

Reservations have been made for the 2015 Varsity Reunion at the Hampton Inn, Wheeling, West Virginia.  Hopeful more veterans and their families can attend and enjoy the fun.
                                                                                  Nancy Lauria
                                                                                  Betty Rea
Report on the Lancaster, PA 
Operation Varsity Gathering
by Michele Smith

Dear Troopers, Trooperettes, Scions, Friends and Family:

Isaac Epps and I would like to thank all of you who attended the 2014 Lancaster Reunion! We realize that for some it was no easy feat, but you rallied in true Airborne Spirit and made it happen! These reunions have become for us a fun-filled, extended family-like gatherings and a terrific way to continue our Scion mission of perpetuating the memory of our heroic 17th Airborne.

We had 70 attendees this year, including ten veterans, including Joe Quade, Col. John Kormann,George Hudicka, John Schumacher, Rev. William Keeler, Ed Jefferson, Ben Nothstine, Jean Klick, Ray Wallace and Glider Pilot George Theis.

A special thanks to Jos and Maria Bex who joined us for the second year in a row, all the way from Holland!  We also want to reach out to those of you who attended in the past or hoped to, but were unable to do so this year and asked to be remembered to the group -WE MISSED YOU! My Dad, of course, Bill Smith, Mike Rock, Bill and Linda Tom, Ed & Mary Siergiej Sr, Jack and Cecelia Macauley, Shirley Wolf, Sharon Beckwith, Ed and June Morgenstern, Luke, Ruby, Warren,and Scott Lucas, Irv and Steve Hennings, Kerri Whitaker and family, Ken and Gladys Aumock, Paul Madden, Jerry and Pat O'Brien, John and Gerri Leather, George and Lorraine Kline, Ken Aiello and grandson Danny Carter, Mr and Mrs Chuck Katz, Gene and Betty Hermann, Ed Good, Anita Traini, Karen Beitler, Sheila Reid Murto and family, Carol and John Woolbright, Deborah and Jonny Tuttle, Eliana and Frank Munafo, June Ariola, Adolph Martinez and family, Bill and Annelie Weber, Cenda, Paul and friends. If we missed anyone, well we missed you too!!!

What a great feeling we got when we arrived at the Steamboat Inn to see the two marquis lit up with "WELCOME 17th AIRBORNE DIVISION" and know we will once again be gathering with our Airborne family! It was a power-packed week and the Steamboat as always treated us royally and fed us royally! A special thanks to Arlene who always pitches in and helps us, in addition to giving us a discount in her store. Ed gave you a nice outline in last month's newsletter. I'll try to recap the week's events, thanks in LARGE part to Scion Melanie Sembrat's excellent note taking ,which in many cases I'm using word for word! Thanks Melanie!

On day one, Matt Baldwin and his re-enacter buddies had a wonderful display of authentic WWII memorabilia. That night we gathered for a delicious family-style dinner in the Steamboat's restaurant with a blessing by Rev.Bill Keeler.  We were honored to have Rhonda Stevenson and Sidney Dickason Jr., daughter and son of hero Sidney Dickason Sr of the all African American 761st Tank Battalion who assisted the 17th Airborne during the Bulge.  They gave a wonderful talk about their Dad. I met Rhonda and Sidney at the funeral of our mutual dear friend 17th Airborne Dr. John Magill and we were so grateful they and their family could attend the Reunion and share their Dad's story. An extra special and much appreciated surprise was that Dr. Magill's wife Anna and their son and daughter were able to join us that evening as well! 

Monday March 24th, after a huge Steamboat breakfast, we kicked off the Reunion with the Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayer by Rev.Bill Keeler to honor the anniversary of Operation Varsity. President Rose Friday gave her report on the continuing evolution of the Scion Organization. Rose was able to locate a DVD made in 1990 featuring 4 men from the 17th Airborne with interviews and archival footage entitled "17th Airborne - The Bulge to the Rhine", for a cost of $15.00. She still has a few copies available and you can email her at

Ed Siergiej Jr. presented a Secretary/Treasurer report and discussed our Facebook page and website with our rise in membership of  171 paid members which continues to grow daily. Scion Adam Coolong has been a tremendous help to Ed with the newsletter and developing the website. Paul Madden volunteered to take over primary role as Historian and work with Robert Smith and Isaac, who also doubles as our group's Chaplain. Adam and Paul will also work together as Archive Coordinators.  The goal is to get the Archives material scanned and posted on the web for families to use.

John Schumacher presented a Challenge Coin to guest George Theis, Glider Pilot. As you know, John's son Jeff Schumacher and his wife Melinda designed and developed the beautiful Challenge Coins for the Scions which are available for purchase on our website and in this newsletter. 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 chute 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.  Col. John Kormann, who is forever busy on a multitude of projects, spoke about his formation of a "Committee on Heroic Recognition" with ten retired Ambassadors. John spoke about our country's need for a Civilian Medal, which he himself has designed and is working to be adopted.

Jos Bex spoke about the work he did, with the assistance of Isaac Epps and Adam Coolong, on the translation from German to English of Johann Nitrowski's book "Die Luftlanding". What an undertaking and a huge thank you to Jos for taking that on. George Theis said he has the German version and came all the way from Texas to be able to purchase the English version! The cost is $69.00 and Jos is giving $10 of every purchase to the Scion Organization. Well done Jos!

That afternoon George Theis talked to us with a nice slide presentation about his experience as a Glider Pilot. Patricia Overman then gave a fascinating slide presentation about her Dad, Lee Whitmire's, experiences as a glider pilot with the 435th Troop Carrier Group and his involvement with the Provisional Glider Pilots Infantry Company, including actual battlefield photographs and well illustrated maps showing the progression of the battle. Patricia's objective with her presentation was to try and find someone who might know what happened to Lt. Col. Keating in the 7 hours between hitting the LZ and arriving at the CP. The only reason she found this out was that her Dad mentioned in his interrogation report that they had the battalion CO in their glider with them. She is trying to document the capture and escape of Lt. Col. Keating and the crew of Chalk 134 which was the glider they rode into battle.

Tuesday March 25 the WGAL TV news crew stopped by and interviewed the vets and later in the day the local newspaper reporter did the same.  Mr. Jean Klick, a 193rd Trooper who just recently found out about the Scions joined us with his son Alan.

Brook Blades presented a short information piece on his proposed documentary about Varsity entitled the "The Last Jump". Discussions ensued about fundraising for production of the movie to topic and focus. You can view it here.

That evening we convened in the hospitality room where new members did their "Qualifying Jump" and were each presented with a certificate earning their wings from Trooper Joe Quade. Joe also brought along his Horse Racing game which was a lot of fun. 

Wednesday March 26 after another huge Steamboat breakfast, Scion Charlie Jones Jr., son of 17th Trooper Charlie Jones Sr. (466th) spoke about his Dad's heroic actions in battle with the command "zero on me" calling artillery fire on his position and therefore on himself. This was to stop two German King Tiger tanks from advancing and potentially annihilating the 17th Airborne troops facing them. My Dad, Bill Smith is the one who took the call at Headquarters and had to clarify Charlie's amazing and self-sacrificing request to his commander, two times!

Through the years my Dad often spoke of Charlie Jones' valor and always told the story when he spoke before groups. His son Charlie wanted to write a book, but only had 15 pages of material. After a series of connections with a variety of people, he was able to get his book "Zero on Me " published. He presented the first copy to Col. Kormann in recognition of his assistance and motivation in getting the book published and continuing the efforts to get Charlie Jones the Medal of Honor he deserves. Charlie wrote his book from a son's perspective, with the general public in mind, he put the reader right in the middle of the action.  Charlie gifted each family attending the reunion with an autographed copy of the book.  Thank you Charlie, it's a great read and available for purchase! To obtain a copy, click here to go to the Zero On Me official website.

Wednesday afternoon we held our beautiful memorial service at a small church in the town of Bird In Hand.  This year, Rev. Keeler officiated, Col. Kormann read the list of unit numbers KIA and those who passed in the past year to the ringing of the bell, and Scions Chaplain Isaac Epps offered the meditation. I'm sure Isaac's Dad was looking down with a proud smile. He did a beautiful job honoring all Troopers who have been called home.  One of the poems he read was one that Dr. John Magill always ended with when he spoke of his experience in the war and I'll share with you now.

"Let them sleep, Dear God - They are so very tired. Let them wake whole again to the soothing sounds of soft music, love and laughter. Let them wake to the sight of green hills and the majestic fields of fragrant flowers. Then tell them, Dear God, that they are loved and missed, but most of all tell them that they did not die in vain. Amen".

With Isaac's message, the beautiful songs we sang and the Candlelight Procession, the Memorial Service is really a moving experience. This year we also included two additional candles to remember the men of the 761st Tank Battalion, and the Glider Pilots who were killed while fighting alongside the 17th. 

After the ceremony Isaac planned another special tribute which we conducted outside of the church.  To give you some background, on his parents' birthdays Isaac visits the cemetery and releases a helium balloon with a special message inscribed on it in their honor.  This year he had a black and yellow balloon for the veterans and I inscribed "We Miss You, We Love You, We Remember" on it. Isaac then asked Melanie Sembrat, daughter of Harry Sembrat 513th, Marcy Schuerholz and Patti Stinchcomb daughters of Mick Stinchcomb 680th, to release the balloons. This was also quite moving and an important new addition to our ceremony.Thanks Isaac!

That evening, after our farewell dinner, Isaac gifted 17th Airborne Christmas ornaments to all Gold Star wives. We then gathered for the Harold and Verna Dean Greenwald's annual sing-a-long. All too soon it was time to say goodbye to a week of fun and fellowship! We met for one last time Thursday morning at breakfast.  After long goodbyes in the lobby then everyone finally had to leave for home LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR! 

Airborne All the Way,
Michele Smith and Isaac Epps  (with detail contributions from Melanie Sembrat)

P.S. Look in this publication in the coming months for more information about next year's Reunion celebrating 70 years. The tentative dates are for May 3 to May 8, 2015.  Mark your calendars! We want you there!
Scion 2013 - 2014 Gathering Schedule
In this section of the newsletter we will post information on both annual and regional gatherings, so we can reserve the time in our schedules. We will keep this schedule updated each month.

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

Arlington VA Gathering

November 2014

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

 As details on this gathering are finalized, we will communicate them here.
Scions to Invade Europe in 2015!
Scions Trip 2015 - February Update

Greetings fellow Scions and honored Veterans.  Early interest in a 2015 trip to the WWII European Theater of Operations (ETO) has been encouraging - and excitement is building, even this far in advance!

We’ve already received interest from about 20 Scions and family members representing the 193rd, 194th, 513th and 680th, which is helping to establish the “canvas” on which the trip can be painted, including The Bulge: the Belgian Ardennes, Bastogne, Flamierge, Dead Man’s Ridge and the surrounding area, and of course Operation Varsity, including the Drop and Landing Zones around Wesel, and various points in between in the European Theater of Operations.  Are you interested in making the trek, seeing where the 17th served, on foot and from the skies, and walking in their footsteps?  Give it some serious thought - there will only be One 70th Anniversary for BOTB and Operation Varsity - and we plan to be there!  

Based on the response thus far, it already promises to be a great trip with much to see, learn and do.  We’ve also been contacted by representatives of the National WWII Glider Pilots Association, and it sounds as though there will be representation from this group in the ETO to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Varsity.  There also promises to be a variety of “70th” events - dedications, remembrances and ceremonies - already in the making across the region, the schedules for which will coincide with Operation Varsity time frame.  

As the interest builds and the trip starts to take shape, the number of things to plan and coordinate becomes more evident.  Early ‘Thanks’ to the folks that have offered to help - including Joe Quade (who could probably do this in his sleep).  These folks’ offers are welcome, and your assistance will be appreciated as well.  

So, fellow Scions - give it some consideration!  In addition to experiencing the chance to travel together as a group - representing the 17th - to see where our vets served, you would also experience the hospitality of the residents of a region freed from the grips of oppression, and the sentiment that is still evident as they remember and honor returning veterans (and their families).

Let me know if you are interested and include "the usual” information (names, contact info), your 17th vet connection (i.e. son/daughter, etc. of a veteran?), please indicate the unit(s) in which “your vet” served, qne tell us who/how many people could prospectively travel in your party, and their approximate ages.  Along with some basic contact information, mailing address and telephone numbers are welcome.  No commitments needed yet, but we do need to start getting a ‘ballpark’ idea of how many travelers we could have in order to engage travel planners and start identifying accommodations that can meet our needs (Volkswagen Bus or Tour Bus...).

Here’s how to get in touch regarding interest in the trip:

Drop an email to  

OR, call or write to:

Jeff Schumacher
1331 SW Wintergreen Lane
Blue Springs, MO  64015
Home phone:  (816) 224-3779

See you in Lancaster...
Airborne...All the Way!

Editors Note:
The Executive Committee wishes to thank Jeff for taking the lead on this exciting project. Those who know Jeff, have great confidance that the trip will be well planned, well communicated, and well done!
Jeff reports that we have a growing list of those who are interested in this 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

This month we have had a generous donations from: 
Skip Greeby 
Susan Rankert
Welcome New Scion Members

The Scions of the 17th Airborne are proud to welcome the following new members, who have joined our organization this month. As our membership grows, we can take on additional projects to honor our veterans and educate about the history of the 17th Airborne.
John Kaminski
son of John D. Kaminski  (680/B Battery)
Fairview Park, Ohio

Tabitha Madry
Granddaughter of Austin Steen Jr. (513/G)
Weatherford, TX

Ben Scott
Son of John H. Scott (513/E)
Ringgold, GA

Sandy Wallace
Grand Daughter of Austin Steen Jr. (513/G)
Crosbyton, TX

Chaplains Corner
by Isaac Epps

The readers of this newsletter surely do not need to be encouraged to take time out for Memorial Day, which is Monday, May 26 this year. I would, however, encourage you all to take someone along with you this year who may not have done that in the past--especially the young folks. You might not think they would be interested; but you might be surprised. Much of the time they are not aware, but once exposed to the ceremony they may find a life changing experience.

My Memorial Day ritual starts the week before. I visit businesses that are having a Memorial Day sale. I ask the manager how much of those profits are being donated to help veterans, and then I give him information on local ways to contribute.

On Memorial Day, after attending the local ceremony, I travel to the cemetery and make right all the flags that have blown over.

Special thanks to the volunteers who have come forward again this year to lay wreaths for the four 17th Airborne MOH Recipients:
Judy Foster for Clinton Hedrick in West Virginia
The Adolph Martinez Family for Stuart Stryker in California
The John Leather Family for Isadore Jachman in Maryland
Flory Somers and the Margraten Memorial Group for George Peters
  May God Bless the Memory of those who laid down their lives for us.
Proposed Change to Scion Bylaws
by Ed Siergiej Jr
Secretary / Treasurer 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Ed Siergiej Jr. & Melanie Sembrt

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

Click here to read the Minutes from the meeting.

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

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

17th Airborne Online Store
Sales of the items below help to support the missions of the "Scions of the 17th Airborne", to honor the veterans of the 17th, and to keep the history of the Division alive.

Send your check to:

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

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

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

We had a sample Tee shirt made up to display at the 2012 Lancaster Reunion, and got a great response from those who attended. As a result, we can offer this 100% Cotten Tee Shirt with the Scion logo, and the motto "Thunder From Heaven" on the front and the back. Available in sizes S, M, L, & XL for $22 each, size XL for $25 each.
Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353

Operation Varsity Reports Available
This 57 page document was produced by the 17th Airborne staff at the end of the war. Included are maps of Drop and Landing Zones, Status of each glider load after landing, pre- arranged artillery coordinates, and much more.
8.5" x 14". Great reading.

Available in hard copy for a donation of $22 each
or on a CD for $12 each. Includes S&H in the U.S. 

Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353
17th Airborne Challenge Coins
Challenge coins have been created by military organizations for many years. 
This beautiful, high quality challenge coin was developed by Scion Jeff Schumacher and his wife Melinda as a tribute to the 17th Airborne. The coin has the 17th Airborne insignia on one side, and the Scions logo on the reverse side. 
These coins are another great way to foster, promote, and honor the story of the 17th. On both sides around the perimeter of the coin there is a "rope" boundary symbolizing shroud lines of a parachute and tow ropes of the gliders (on two sides because they did double tow in Varsity).The black color symbolizes "SURPRISE" and the gold is the golden opportunity to seize by surprise. Also some blue on the Airborne side of the coin representing the blue skies on 3/24/45.
Available for $15 each, two for $25. Any additional coins above the quantity of two would be $10 each. Includes S&H.

Consider donating additional funds so that we can send these to as many of our veterans as possible, or buy two and give one to your special 17th veteran!
At the recent funeral of one of our veterans, the family actually included one of these coins with the veterans remains.

Checks may be made out to "Scions of the 17th Airborne",
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd., Danbury, CT 06811-3353
Scion Hats and Patches
Show your pride to be a Scion of the 17th Airborne Division
The sample hats that we had made up for the Lancaster, PA Operation Varsity gathering sold out very quickly, so we had some more made up. Available in Blue, Black, or Red, these hats have our Scion patch sewn on.
A $25.00 donation is requested for each hat.

We also have additional Scion patches identical to those included in the packages sent to new members.he Patches are 3.5"H x 3"W and are available for $3.00 each.
Includes S&H in the U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17th Airborne Division, Volume 1

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

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

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

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

Regular membership in the "Scions of the 17th Airborne" is open to any descendant or family member of any trooper who served with the 17th during its existence.

Our mission is to insure that the sacrifice and history of the 17th Airborne Division is not forgotten.

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

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

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

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

The website is located at:

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

Please consider passing this on to your children and grandchildren, if they are not already members. As our membership grows, we can take on new projects of value.
Rose Friday, daughter of Edward Friday (194th)

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

Ed Siergiej Jr., son of Edward J. Siergiej (194th)
Executive Committee:

Cindy Heigl - daughter of Tony Heigl (193rd)
Melanie Sembrat - daughter of Harry Sembrat (513th)
Robert Smith - brother of Levert L. Smith (194th)
Isaac Epps - son of Ralph Epps (194th)
From Scion Diane Clark:
It is hard to believe a year has passed since our visit to Belgium.   There are still so many fond memories of the places visited, the people met, the new friends bonded.  It is still not possible to thank everyone enough for the opportunity Melvin Lagoon (Dad) to make this return visit.  He still cherishes so many of those moments!
Thinking of all of you now as you are either recreating another DMRW event or have been busy with the Varsity Reunion.   We are confident John Leather will find the Belgian experience as special for he has his family as we did with Dad.  We look forward to updates of both events and wish everyone well.
Hello all dear friends,
Today it's the 4th of May the day that Holland always remembers all casualties of war. This evening at 8 o'clock PM King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will lay a big wreath at the war monument in Amsterdam.
But Joe and I went to the Margraten cemetery with flowers from our garden. Very coincidental we met Joe's niece there. (the second lady from the left) The flag on the cemetery was at half mast.
Tomorrow the 5th of May all flags in whole Holland will be at top of the mast when Holland celebrates the liberation thanks to you.
Have a nice day,
Joe and Flory Somers 
From Cindy Taylor Burger - Daughter of Jimmie Taylor (680th/A Battery)

It would be an honor to receive 'Thunder from Heaven' monthly! I have all my Daddy's copies plus so much more. Because of health issues, I haven't been able to go through all his stuff yet but will soon. (My basement is filled with his memorabilia but the majority of it is 17th Airborne Reunion pictures, etc.)  It brought him so much happiness to be with his buddies! Thank you so much! He is smiling down from Heaven but oh how I am missing that smile!

God bless you! Cindy Taylor Burger

PS just attaching a few pictures today. The first one is my son Mike Burger looking at my Father's 17th AB display at his visitation.

The second one is a picture taken at the funeral by the funeral director showing his jacket.

The third one is the brick that my son, John Burger, had purchased in his honor at Huntsville's Veteran's Park. (unfortunately Daddy never saw it).
From Irene Vafides, daughter of John Vafides (513/H). See obituary below.

Dear members of the 17th Airborne family,
I am writing to express my thanks for all the things you did for my family.  My heart skipped a beat when I emerged from the church and saw Ed (Siergiej Jr) standing with the flag.   The 17th was an important part of my father’s life and i’m sure he was saluting you all as well.  It was also the most touching and moving experience to meet Bob Quegan, who served shoulder to shoulder with my father.  I can not thank you enough for making it possible for him to be there.  And finally, to be given the 17th Scion challenge coin was the icing on the cake.  I will cherish it always.
Thanks again for all you have done for us all! 

Editors Note: It was an honor to attend the funeral for Trooper John Vafides, on behalf of the 17th Airborne Family. Many thanks to Scion Michele Fitzgerald, daughter of Trooper Bob Quegan (513/H), and her husband, for bringing Bob to the funeral.  
Cenda, Paul and his buddies from the Czech Republic sent over the following well wishes:

"Dear friends, unfortunately we can´t be there with you again. Although we have planned to come over, the plans you made change in a second and it did not work out for us. Some of us had complications in the family, some of us are short of money, so the usual problems, but they don´t let us to visit you.

We have been doing a lot of re-enacting last year and it will continue during this season as well. The name of the 17th Airborne Division is becoming very well known around our country and I hope we did our part in that matter too. This summer we will travel to Normandy again, where the 70th anniversary celebrations of the D-Day landings will take part. And the 17th Airborne flag will again be raised and waved on the beaches and towns across the Normandy coastline. If some of you are planning to go there as well, we would be honored to meet you there and give you a ride on our Dodge or in the Jeep.

We are very sorry about the losses the division is having through the last year again, please light a candle for us by the church ceremony if possible for all the past troopers we did not know or did met in person. I am pretty sure Michele, Isaac, Rose and Ed will prepare a perfect gathering for all of you in Lancaster and we wish you all to enjoy your time together. We do love all of you.

Least but not last, the man in command as we use to say, Col. Kormann : Sir, if they don´t obey your orders or just give you a hard time, let me know, we assemble a squad and come to help :-) But seriously, we all are respecting you as the true leader and I am sure all of the attendees will feel the same, you are a true gift for the whole organization, sir ! Thank you. 

Enough talking, you have a lot to talk about among each other, but believe me one thing, we really would love to see you all again and we do everything possible to come next year, that is a promise. Take care, enjoy your reunion and god bless you all ! Cenda, Paul and friends. 17th Airborne Division Re-enactors,Czech Republic Chapter."

Editors Note: We hope to see you in Lancaster also!
Editors Note:
Steven Russelle contacted us with regard to this photo of an unknown 17th trooper.

He purchased it so that he could make an attempt to find the family or perhaps the trooper himself.
As of this time, no one has idenified this trooper, and Mr. Russelle has donated the photo to the Scions. We thank him for his interest in keeping such personal items as this out of the flea markets.
Sadly, we often find that when a trooper passes his prized uniform and items such as this end up on an auction block. Troopers and family members of troopers should make provisions so that the heritage of the 17th is not sold off for profit to those who do not appreciate it. We thank Steven for his very honorable work to return this photo to the family. If no family is found, Steven has indicated that he will send it to the Scions for our archives, which are growing all the time.
From Lisa Gogal,
I have attached a picture of my Uncle, Thomas P. Gogal, and two of his friends. My Uncle was a member of the 680th GFAB and was killed during Operation Varsity. This is the only picture we have so far located of him. He is the man on the left and the spitting image of my Dad at that age. My Dad is in fact named after him. We would love to know more about this picture, where it was taken (we are guessing a military camp) and who the other gentlemen are. Can you post this on the Scions' facebook page and maybe we can get more information.
I greatly appreciate any help!
Thank you!
Contributed by Scion John Ogden, son of Jack Ogden (194/HQ)

Sick Call

Mike Rock (680B) is back at home after an extended stay in the hospital and under the able care of his daughter Diane. Michele and Isaac were able to surprise him with two visits during the Lancaster reunion; and report that his spirit is high and he is having regular physical therapy sessions to get him back on his feet--Mike is a fighter and will be up and jogging before we know it! These health issues kept him from attending the Lancaster reunion--only the second reunion since 1954 that he missed. He wants everybody to know how much he missed being there and sends all his best.
  Mike was initially chosen to be the 17th Airborne representative for the Dead Man's Ridge Walk effort in Europe; but health issues kept him from taking that great honor. Mike's address is;
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?
Leo Veneskey


EBENSBURG — VENESKEY – Leo Marshall Sr., 98, Ebensburg, passed away March 18, 2014, at his home. Born Jan. 3, 1916, in West Carroll Township, son of Clement and Elizabeth (Kowalski) Veneskey. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his loving wife of 67 years, Leona Mary (Schenk) Veneskey, on Dec. 11, 2010, whom he married Oct. 23, 1943, at St. Monica’s Church in Chest Springs; son-in-law, Ronald Peterman I; daughter-in-law, Diana Veneskey; and siblings, Xavier Veneskey, Helen Okran, Chester Veneskey, Agnes Spiwacki, Zygmont Veneskey, Blanche Strobl, Salome Jankowski, Charles Veneskey, Cecilia McClain, Matilda Morchesky and Victor Veneskey. He was a loving and devoted father of Paul Leo (Mena) Veneskey, Emmaus, Pa.; Norma Jean (Blake) Netherwood, Hamilton, Va.; Sylvia Marie (Rick) DerVanik, Bridgeville, Pa.; Gwen Louise (John Urbaniak) Veneskey, Pittsburgh; Leo Marshall (Marian) Veneskey Jr., State College; Leora (Jim Hicks) Humphrey, Northern Cambria; Monica Peterman, Nanty Glo; Ruth (Marc) Awada, Erie; Catherine (Deepak) Wadhwani, Pittsburgh; and James (Tina) Veneskey, Escanaba, Mich. Leo was the loving grandfather of Rick DerVanik Jr., Doug (Sharon) Netherwood, Jeff (Jenn) DerVanik, Andrea (Scott Clemens) Netherwood, Amy (Jamie) Howe, Laura Veneskey, Ash Netherwood, Ron (Jessica) Peterman, Britni (Marand Blanco) Peterman, Anna Wadhwani and Ajay Wadhwani. He was the loving great-grandfather of Victoria DerVanik, Frank DerVanik, Vida Blanco-Peterman, Sebastian Howe, Abigail Mae Netherwood and Adrian and Camila Peterman. Sister of Phyllis Warner, St. Benedict. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. He was a U.S. Army veteran, Co. F 193rd Glider Infantry 17th Airborne Division. He previously worked at Cleveland Pneumatic in Cleveland, Ohio, and retired from Kasel, formerly Stevens Manufacturing in Ebensburg.  He also owned and operated Leo’s Garage in East Carroll Township for many years. Devout long-term member of St. Benedict Catholic Church, Carrolltown, and Holy Name Society. He had a wide range of interests including playing the violin and harmonica, music, gardening, working with his hands, making apple cider, walking on the treadmill and exercising, playing Cinch, fishing and watching “Jeopardy.” He built two family homes almost single-handedly and a commercial garage, and regularly nurtured their gardens and fruit trees. Leo proudly maintained his health by walking and exercising daily in his later years and eating healthy foods. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Stevens Funeral Home Inc., 146 N. Main St., Carrolltown, Pa. 15722, where vigil for the deceased will be held. Additional viewing will be held from 9 a.m. until the time of funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Benedict Catholic Church, Carrolltown, the Rev Jude W. Brady, OSB, celebrant. Interment, church cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Leo’s family requests memorial contributions to St. Benedict Catholic Church, Carrolltown, or St. Benedict Catholic School, Carrolltown. (
John Vafides


Life member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

John Vafides, of Hull, died on Friday, April 11, 2014 at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth at the age of 92. Mr. Vafides was born in Hull and was a liflong resident of the town. He served with the United States Army during World War II as a paratrooper in the 17th Airborne Division and was a prisoner of war. He was a graduate of Citadel College in South Carolina and for many years was a teacher for the Hanover Public School System. He was an active member of POW and VFW organizations. Mr. Vafides was an avid boxer and coach of the Golden Gloves. He especially enjoyed spending time with his friends at parties and Dunkin Donuts in Hull and sitting in his gazebo at home smoking cigars. He was the husband of the late Elizabeth (Jacobs) Vafides and father of Irene Vafides of Hull. Brother of Henry Vafides of Florida, Robert W. Vafides of Hingham and the late Dorothy Stetson, Alexander, Nicholas, Helen and Charles Vafides. He is also survived by his special adopted grandchildren, Katherine and Robert Spitz of Hull and many loving nieces and nephews. A funeral service will be conducted on Wednesday, April 16, at 11 a.m. at the Second Congregational Church, 43 Highland Ave., Cohasset. Relatives and friends are invited to attend visiting hours at the Downing Cottage Funeral Chapel, 21 Pond St., Hingham on Tuesday from 4 - 8 p.m. Interment in Hull Village Cemetery In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory would be appreciated to the Paul and Diane Hickey Family Scholarship Fund, c/o Hingham Institute for Savings, 55 Main St., Hingham, MA 02043 to be given to Hingham High School students. For online guest book, please visit
- See more at:

Editors Note:  Scion Secretary / Treasurer Ed Siergiej Jr was able to represent the 17th Airborne Family at Trooper Vafides service and burial.

Raymond H. Smith



Raymond Houston Smith, 88, of Springfield, formerly of Wenona, passed away Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at St. John's Hospital.

He was born Dec. 16, 1924, in La Prairie Center, Ill. He married Dorothy Phelan on May 16, 1947, and she survives.

He is also survived by four children, Cinda Jones, Roberta Kettles, Laura Geving and Jeff Smith; six grandchildren, Mathew Jones, Stephanie Jones, Nathan Erjavsek, Nicholas Erjavsek, Grace Smith and Raymond Smith; and one great-grandchild.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William Smith and Dorothy Kelly; a brother, Robert Smith of Chillicothe; and two granddaughters, Heather and Heidi Krischel of Springfield.

Raymond served in World War II as a paratrooper and fought in the European Theater. He was awarded several medals. He was a lifelong member of American Legion Post 8 in Wenona and VFW Post 755 in Springfield, where he served on the Inter-Veterans Burial Detail of Sangamon County.

Raymond was a longtime resident of Wenona and retired after 38 years with Commonwealth Edison.

Cremation rites were accorded. Services and inurnment will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, at La Prairie United Presbyterian Church and Cemetery, with lunch to follow. La Prairie is located on Route 17, west of Sparland. Vancil-Murphy Funeral Home in Springfield is in charge of arrangements.

Online condolences at

- See more at:
Benjamin F. Irvin


Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Irvin, 92, Bethany, passed away Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at Crestview Nursing Home, Bethany, MO. 
He was born January 29, 1922, in Billings, Montana, the adopted son of Cora (Jennings) Irvin. 
Ben served in the U.S. Army during WWII in the 17th Airborne as a paratrooper. 
On August 16, 1941, Ben was united in marriage to Betty J. Ballard. She preceded him in death on July 7, 2007. 
For 30 years, he worked as a mechanic for Cole & Meyers. He was one of the best welders and mechanics in the area. There are several structures still standing today that Ben helped construct. 
Ben was a member of the First Baptist Church, Bethany, MO. He was also a member of the VFW Post #2176 and the Masonic Lodge #97 A.F. & A.M. of Bethany. 
He was also preceded in death by his adopted mother, grandson, Thad Irvin and sister, Margaret Batterson. 
Survivors include his two sons, Mike (Mary) Irvin and Mark (Joan) Irvin all of Bethany, MO; 3 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; a niece and a nephew. 
Funeral services will be at 2:00 pm Saturday March 15, at Roberson Funeral Home, Bethany, MO. Burial with military rites in Miriam Cemetery, Bethany, MO. The family will receive friends from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm Saturday March 15, at the funeral home where friends may call after 4:00 pm Friday, March 14. 
Memorial contributions may be made to Miriam Cemetery and/or Bethany Public Library in care of Roberson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 46, Bethany, MO 64424.
Calvin B. Surrett


Calvin Brenton Surrett, 88, of Augusta, Maine, passed away Tuesday. Mr. Surrett was born in Birmingham, AL and was a WWII Veteran. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Roy Surrett; his first wife, Dixie Ann Surrett; son, Bryan Surrett; and second wife, Maurine Alverson Surrett.

Survivors include son, Robert E. Alverson (Mary) of August, ME; daughter, Sharon Keown (Gerald) of Moore, SC; grandchildren, Jim Alverson (Stacey) of Chattanooga, TN; Robyn Vicuna (Skip) and Jenna Riffe (Tony), all of Huntsville and Stephanie Keown and Allison Keown, both of Atlanta, GA; six great-grandchildren; and brother, Charles Stewart of Anniston.

Visitation will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Saturday at Laughlin Service Funeral Home. The funeral service will be at 2:00 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home chapel with David Carter officiating. Burial will be in Huntsville Memory Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Michael C. Martier


Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

Died March 25, 2014, as reported by his nephew, William Monroe.
Of Moon Twp., on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, age 89. Beloved husband of Helen (Midzianowsky) Martier; loving father of Janet Martier-Gill and the late Gregory Martier; brother of Frank Martier; and grandfather of Joseph Martier. Friends received in the ANTHONY J. SANVITO FUNERAL HOME, 1316 Fourth Ave., Coraopolis, on Friday 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Parastas on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the funeral home. Funeral service on Saturday at St. Vladimir Church, Ambridge, at 10 a.m. Everyone please meet at the church.
Send condolences at - See more at:
John G. Rauch
437th Troop Carrier Group

John G. Rauch, Jr. PALMYRA John G. Rauch, Jr., 90, of the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home, passed away Wednesday, April 2, 2014. Born October 31, 1923, in Harrisburg, he was a son of the late John G., Sr. and Ella M. (Speece) Rauch, and was also preceded in death by brothers, Earl, George, and Harry Rauch. Retired from Kraft Foods, he was a member of First United Methodist Church, Palmyra and American Legion #72. He was an Army Air Force veteran of World War II and a member of the Caterpillar Club. Surviving are his wife of 67 years, Betty J. (Gingrich) Rauch; sons, John G. Rauch, III, husband of Barbara, and Michael R. Rauch, husband of Rosemary, all of Harrisburg; sisters, Lois Adams of Albuquerque, N.M., and Barbara Leeper of Annville; grandchildren, Eric Rauch, David Rauch, Stephanie Rauch, and Nathan Rauch; and six great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, April 12, 2014, at his church, 520 E. Birch St., Palmyra. Interment in Grand View Memorial Park, Annville, will be held at the convenience of the family. Memorial contributions may be made to the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home Good Samaritan Fund, 1200 Grubb Road, Palmyra, PA 17078. Condolences may be shared at

Editors Note : John Rauch was a Co-pilot in a C-47 that did a double Glider Tow for Opeation Varsity.  He was shot down during the Varsity Operation and came down near Wesel Germany. John attended our Lancaster reunion in 2013 as a guest of Ed Milford. 
Steve Dobozy
(155th Airborne Anti-Aircraft Bn)

Life Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association
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