The official electronic newsletter of the veterans and descendants of the U.S. 17th Airborne Division
Issue # 3 - December 2012

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
- A Christmas Carol
  by John Kormann

- The Talon, With the 17th in the Ardennes

- Golden Talon Belgian Assoc. Gathers at Flamierge Memorial
   by Ed Siergiej Jr

- Trooper Stories from Bart Hagerman
   submitted by Isaac Epps

- Register Now for the Lancaster "Operation Varsity" Gathering
  by Michele Smith

-  Transcription of 17th Roster
    by Ed Siergiej Jr

-  Website Progress
    by Ed Siergiej Jr.

-  Scion Hats and Patches

 Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom

- Letters From Home and Abroad


A Message From Col. John Kormann, Founder of the
"Scions of the 17th Airborne"
The Church in Houmont Today

This photo, taken in September 2012 shows the church in Houmont  today.
The Stained Glass Window of the Houmont Church, Dedicated to the 17th Airborne.

The design of the window is taken from the logo of the 17th Airborne Divison Association. Our Scion logo is derived from the association logo as well.
Cover page of the magazine
"The Talon, With The 17th In Ardennes"
published by the 17th in 1945

Below, are some of the photos included in that magazine



Determined resistance was overcome with little left with which to start over

Left - Just down the road the fighting was fierce
Center - The shell shattered church at Mande
Right - As the battle raged, only this pathway of trees remained cool and aloof
Recon Company soldiers view a fallen dynasty's symbol
Top Left - Tovigny Castle - Formarly the residence of a wealthy French banker. But to the 17th - a bivouac to further plans to destroy the Krauts

Top Right - Staff photographer Al Byers points out the direct hit on a German Panther Mark V tank near Wilderwiltz, Luzembourg

Bottom Left - GI's gather to warm themselves for a brief respite at a roadside bivouac near Salle, Belgium

Bottom Right - A familiar sign post on the road to victory over Hitler's Gang
17th Airborne Remembered in Flamierge, Belgium

Members of the Golden Talon Belgian Association, conducted a ceremony at the memorial to the 17th Airborne in Flamierge, Belgium recently. The Golden Talon Association gathers each year on or about the date of the begining of the Battle of the Bulge.
  Attending were Raymond and Patrick FRANC, Carole EVRARD, Christian KLEIN and his wife Marie-Claire, Stephane PAYE , Quentin GIACOMMEI, Frederic and Claude DEHON .  From the city, Christian GLAUDE and Catherine THIS. Thanks to Frederic Dehon for providing these photos to us, and for carrying the flag with such style. Thanks also to all those involved for honoring the 17th.  

 Trooper Stories
                          Private Callahan and the Battle of the Bulge
                                                  by Gene Callahan

             From the "17th Airborne Division History, by Bart Hagerman
On December 15, the Germans broke through our line in Belgium and th Battle of the Bulge began.  On Christmas Day we were flown into France and took our positions on the Meuse River where the Germans would try to cross.  We dug in and listened in awe to the thunder of the battle.  The Germans were stopped just short of the river.  Now they had to be driven back.
  The crossing we were guarding was in Given, France - a picturesque medieval town.
  Jan. 5, 1945, and snow was falling on the snow already on the ground in the thick pine forest of the Belgian Ardennes.  The 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment was in front of us being hit hard by German tanks.  They took terrific casualties but held on.  We relieved them in line and the exhausted men trudged back pulling little farm carts piled with their dead.  We were in the woods overlooking a wide field.  German tanks were trying to cross the field and our artillery was firing at them.
  I was told to go back to the ammunition dump and carry back shells for our guns.  I made several round trips carrying two of the 3" shells each time.  There were explosions all around from the German tank fire.  The company commander fell wounded.  The Catholic chaplain and his assistant were killed while carrying a stretcher. One of my friends named Peterson was killed in his foxhole.  The Germans retreated and the next morning we crossed the field.  We climbed the hill where the German and American bodies lay scattered about.  My squad dug holes in the other side of the hill facing the other field.
  We crouched, freezing in our holes through the night. We could hear motors of tanks moving but thick fog rolled in and we could see nothing.  Toward morning I heard a thumping sound coming toward me.  It got closer and I knew it was a man slowly coming toward my position.  I grabbed a grenade and called out "who's there?".  The walking stopped. A voice said "513, I am not armed". I told him to come to me with his arms up and he appeared out of the fog.  I went up to him and searched  him and asked him who he was. He said his name and said he had been caught behind enemy lines for two days and when they pulled out he started walking towards our lines.  His hands and feet had been frozen and he was about to give out when he heard my voice.  I helped him back to the rear where the medics took him.  I never heard what became of him but when I as in the hospital I knew men who had lost their feet and hands in that awful cold.  300 men in the 507th were evacuated for frostbite in that month.  I saved my feet by changing my frozen socks morning noon and night.  I carried spares in my shirt where they warmed and dried.
  After this battle we walked forward and the Germans retreated firing at us all the time. when we stopped anywhere we dug holes to get out of the shell fire.  Six inches deep the earth wasn't frozen and was warmer.  A little straw on the bottom of the hole was nice.  In the morning we were often buried by the snow.
  We had walked clear across Belgium, to the German border.  Were were put on trucks and taken to Clerveau, Luxembourg,  Her we rested a few days and got new supplies and men.  A few miles away was Germany across the Our river, a deep V-shaped canyon.  Ont eh evening of Feb. 6 we climbed down the steep valley to the river.  The snow was melting and the river was a rushing torrent. the engineers had hitched little rubber boats to a cable and tried to pull them across.  My squad got in one and it immediately filled with water. We desperately bailed with our helmets and made it across wet and miserable.  The next boat overturned and three men were drowned.  We were the first 17th company in Germany.  We climbed up the steep valley to where the Siegfried Line awaited us.  this was a chain of concrete forts lining the German border.  Almost to the top, we halted to let the others catch up. I fell asleep on the ground.
  A loud explosion sand sharp pain awoke me.  A German mortar round had landed near me.  The man behind me was badly wounded and I had a fragment in my foot.  The medics carried him back to the river and never came back again.  I lay there until the light of morning. The company was ordered forward so I gave my machine gun to another man and he left me with his rifle. Then I crawled off down the hill towards the river cradling the rifle in my arms in cast the enemy were about. The platoon was all but wiped out. 8 of the 36 men were killed and all but 3 wounded. A medic finally found me down by the river an took me across in another rubber boat.  They took me in a Jeep with other wounded men and then in an ambulance  to the field hospital. Lots of others were hurt worse than I was so they gave me a morphine shot and laid me on the floot untill late that night.  I was brought to the operation room at last and given sodium pentohatl.  I as out in a moment and they took a chunk of iron out.  Four toe bones were broken - my war was over.

Register Now for the Lancaster PA "Operation Varsity" Gathering

by Michele Smith


In this 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.
Transcription Project
by Ed Siergiej Jr

One of the missions of the Scions is to tell the story of the 17th Airborne. Each week, we get inquiry's from family members who want to learn more about their fathers, or grandfathers service.
  "Thunder From Heaven" was published in 1946 and contains a decent, though not perfect, roster of all troopers that were known to have served in the 17th at that time. That list is a primary source when we get an inquiry from a family member. The book also lists the Regiment that the trooper served with, which is often unknown by the family member. This provides a place for us to start. Unfortunately, the troopers company is not listed in this book. 
  Last month, I thought it might be possible to enlist the help of some of our members to transcribe the list of troopers into a database that can hold all available information and be sorted by regiment and company. Using our Facebook site, I posted a message to see if anyone was interested. Within a week, I had a list of 10 wonderful folks willing to help in the effort. Given that there are over 50,000 names in the list it seemed smart to scan the list, divide it up, and email it out.
  As I started to scan the 90 pages, I received another offer to help from another of our Scions. As I explained the project to him, he came up with an alternative to manual transcription. Using a technology called OCR (Optical Character Recognition) the scanned pages can be electronically entered into a database. I sent one of our scans to him, and the next day received an email with all the names contained in an Excell spreadsheet. The next step is to scan the remaining pages of the roster and send them by email. We are very grateful for the willingness of our members to help out our efforts with their time and skills. I am sure that we will find other opportunities for our volunteers to help us make more and more historical information about the 17th available to those who seek to learn about their 17th trooper, and the role the 17th played in winning the war.
  I know that this tool will be a valuable resource in the future as we seek to connect our Scions to their heritage.
Scions Website Progress
by Ed Siergiej Jr

 Since the Scions were founded, many of our new members have come to us via our Facebook page. The internet has made it possible for us to reach out to, and connect with people all around the world, share information on a timely basis, and collaborate with each other to make the Scions organization grow.
  The next big projects that our organization es undertaking is to develop a website for the 'Scions of the 17th Airborne". This website will be a permanent location where information on the 17th Airborne can be located and easily accessed. 
  Key to the development of the website was finding someone with the experience and skills to guide us through the technical aspects of the process. We were fortunate, last March to meet the person we were looking for, Scion Danny Carter, grandson of Ken Aiello, 680th HQ. With Dan's help, we have set up the site, and developed the structure of the site. We have tabs to help visitors to locate information such as "About Us", "History", "Newsletters", "TAPS", "Sales", "Contact Us", etc.
  Under the history tab, we have separate sections for each unit of the 17th, 507th, 513th, 193rd, 194th, etc. This should help interested persons to look at information and documents for that particular unit.
  The website is still "under construction", but you can view what we have done so far by going to:
Scion Hats and Patches

Show your pride to be a Scion of the 17th Airborne Division
The sample hats that we had made up for the Lancaster, PA Operation Varsity gathering sold out very quickly, so we had some more made up. Available in Blue, Black, or Red, these hats have our Scion patch sewn on.
We also have additional Scion patches identical to those included in the packages sent to new members. 
A $ 25.00 donation requested for each hat.
The Patches are 3.5" H x 3" W and are available for $2.00 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
From: Michael Clark
  My father, CPL Morris L Clark, served with the 513th PIR. Looking for any info anyone who knew him could provide. I understand he was a POW in Stalag 12A and 9B. Also have a couple pictures of him with fellow soldiers. Would like to attach (in a followup email) and ask if anyone can identify them as well.  I will be forwarding a check for the $20.00 via snail mail.
Thanks in advance for any info
Michael W Clark
MSG, Retired

Editors Note: The two photos below were supplied by Michael. if any one recognizes the soldiers with Michael's father, please contact us at ""
From: Scion Robert Blethrow

 A few months ago, while visiting the Lyon Air Museum in Santa Ana, I had the great privilege of meeting Air Transport Command member Richard C. Higgins, USN, who was present at Ford Island on Dec. 7, 1941. With awe and respect, I listened to his testimony. Chief Higgins recounted that all PBY aircraft (flying boats) at Ford Island were destroyed. On the east side of Oahu, Hawaii, two units from his squadron were spared to perform recon after the attack. The lives of Higgins’ squad were spared that day; some were injured. Take the opportunity to recognize and thank these true heroes of our great nation. Be a real part of our grateful nation by honoring our Pearl Harbor veterans – and all of our veterans – whenever the opportunity is afforded.

My name is Patrick from Luxembourg and I am very interested in stories from the Veterans of the 17th Airborne Division especially in the fighting of the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg. I am also collecting signatures from Veterans and I would be happy if you contact me and tell me your stories or send me your pictures.
My address:
Dax Patrick
11, rue Jules Wilhelm
L-2728 Luxembourg
Dear Fellow Scions,
Please pray for my father, Bob Burns (2nd Battalion, 513 PIR, Company F). Dad has been hospitalized 8 times since July 2011, mostly for pneumonia. His heart condition has also worsened. Dad is scheduled to have angiograms done for his heart on January 9, 2013. He is considered very high-risk. All prayers are greatly appreciated. Dad found the 17th Airborne Division Association very late in life. Unfortunately, he was unable to become involved or attend any of its final meetings because my mom's health was not good. And, now that both Mom and Dad are not in good health, I am not able to be of much help to our new organization because of my obligations to them and their needs. But, I am very proud to be the daughter of a 17th Airborne paratrooper and to be a member of the Scions. We have enjoyed the newsletters. I share them with Dad. We pray for Mr. Tom and hope that his recovery from his open heart surgery continues to go well.
Thank you for your prayers.
Karen Ann Burns Pfeifer

From: Kem Hart-Baker

I'm trying to find out what company a PFC Robert J. Cotanche USArmy served while attached to the 513 Parachute Infantry 17th Airborne Division during WW 2. He died Jan 2, 1945 - I'd like to learn the circumstances surrounding his death if possible. Thank you!

Editors Note: Kem, We are posting your letter in our newsletter, and hope that some of our veterans will possibly have additional information. Anyone having information can contact Kem directly at the email above, or reply to the Scions at (Ed Siergiej Jr)
From: Blaise Brown
My uncle was in the 513th P.I.R. K.I.A. 4/1/45 His name was Alton M. Brown I was wondering if you could include his photo with the other troopers on the web site.

Editors Note: Blaize, We are including the great photo of your uncle in the December issue of our newsletter, "Thunder From Heaven". Thanks for sending it in. Perhaps some of our veterans will recall him. We hope that you will join the Scions organization, as we strive to honor all the veterans of the 17th and to tell their story.
Alton M. Brown (513th PIR)


Harold “Bill” D. Eastman

Harold “Bill” Dean Eastman, 87, of Louisiana, passed away Friday, Dec. 7, 2012 at Pike County Memorial Hospital.
Funeral Services were held on Monday, Dec. 10, at the funeral home. The Rev. Don Kelly officiated. Burial was in the Riverview Cemetery in Louisiana.
Mr. Eastman was born January 14, 1925 in Creston, Iowa to Walter Roy and Maulcy (Knight) Eastman. He moved to Louisiana with his parents in 1930 and graduated from Louisiana High School in 1942 where he was a three-sport letterman in football, basketball and track.
In 1943, Mr. Eastman was inducted into the Army and served as a paratrooper during World War II with the 17th Airborne Division known as “Thunder from Heaven.”
He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944 and received a Purple Heart. He was also with the first combat unit to jump the Rhine River into Nazi Germany.
After the war, Mr. Eastman worked construction in St. Louis. He married Imogene Willis on Feb. 19, 1955 and they moved to Louisiana in 1958 where Mr. Eastman was employed at Hercules, Inc. until his retirement in March of 1987.
Mr. Eastman was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Louisiana. He was also a member of Elks Lodge 791 and the Pike County Country Club where he was an avid golfer.
Mr. Eastman is survived by his wife, Jean; their two sons, Rick Eastman and wife Pat of Jefferson City, and their children Zach and Karina; and Phil Eastman and wife Kim of Olathe, Kas. and their children Daniel and Matthew.
He was preceded in death by his parents in 1991 and an infant grandson, Nathan David Eastman on July 2, 2004.
Honorary pallbearers were Karina Eastman, Don Ince, James T. Griffith, Jr., and Pike County Country Club Golfers. Active pallbearers were Jerry Narramore, Dennis Deweese, Matthew Eastman, Stan Ehinger, Zach Eastman, Daniel Eastman and Robert H. Ince.
Memorials may be made to Pike County Hospice or the First Baptist Church of Louisiana.
Online condolences may be sent to


"Butch" Traini

Butch Traini, passed on to the Lord on Sunday, December 16, 2012. He went very peacefully and without fear. Our family appreciates all the work that goes into keeping in touch with the brave and wonderful 17th Airborne friends. Thank you.
Marian (Traini) Ansani – Butch’s Daughter 

Editors Note : Butch servid with the 17th Airborne in 194 HQ1.  He was a Life Member of  the 17th Airborne Division Association. Obituary below.

Traini, Vespucci B. 89

New Kensington

Vespucci B. "Butch" Traini, 89, of New Kensington, died Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, at the Allegheny Valley Hospital Emergency Room, Natrona Heights. He was born Dec. 1, 1923, in New Kensington, a son of the late Umberto and Marianna (Coletti) Traini; and husband of 64 years of Anita D. (Intrieri) Traini, of New Kensington. Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by two grandsons, Benjamin Ansani and Vincenzo Traini; two brothers, Oscar and Duilio Traini; and two sisters, Aida Como Backo and infant sister, Evelyn Traini. He was a member of Mt. St. Peter Roman Catholic Church, New Kensington, Holy Name Society, church usher for 15 years, church council, volunteer for the school cafeteria and Mt. St. Peter Men's Bowling League, all of the church. Mr. Traini was a member of the Ezekiel No. 37 prayer group for 25 years. He loved all sports and bowled a 300 game with duck pins. He volunteered for 20 years for the New Kensington-Arnold School District. He graduated from Ken-Hi in 1942, New Kensington Commercial School with a degree in accounting and also attended New Kensington Campus of Penn State University, Duquesne University and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh. He was a Fourth Degree Knight of the Knights of Columbus, New Kensington, Eagles and life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Lower Burrell. He retired from Pittsburgh Plate Glass, Creighton, as a material control manager after 40 years. He was a proud World War II veteran, serving in the Army as a sergeant with the 17th Airborne Division and also the 82nd Airborne Division. He also he attended parachute school, completing 22 jumps. He later became an instructor in the parachute school in Berlin. Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Anita D. (Intrieri) Traini, of New Kensington; two sons, Umberto Traini, of Pittsburgh, and Vespucci (Catherine) Traini, of New Kensington; two daughters, Marian (Thomas) Ansani, of Lower Burrell, and Geralyn (John) Shreiner, of Illinois; 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Evelyn (Angelo) Spataro, of New Kensington, and Lillian (James) Dzugan, of New Kensington; and many cousins, nieces and nephews. Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the Giunta-Bertucci Funeral Home Inc., JohnPaul Bertucci, supervisor, 1509 Fifth Ave., Arnold. Prayers of transfer will take place at 9:30 a.m. Friday in the funeral home, followed by a funeral Mass at 10 a.m. at Mt. St. Peter Roman Catholic Church. Burial in Union Cemetery, Arnold. The Ezekiel Prayer Group No. 37 will meet for a service at 7 p.m. Thursday in the funeral home.

To visit the guest book, go to:

Ray Harper (194 SR)

Ray Harper (194 SR} died on July 21, 2011 as reported by Rose Friday.   Messages of condolence may be sent to Faye Harper, 7549 Rolling River Parkway,  Nashville,TN 37221.  
HARPER, Garvin Ray, Age 91, passed away on 21st of July, 2011. Ray was born on the 7th of September, 1919 to the late Ray & Mary L. (Johnson) Harper. He was a Certified Public Accountant and a lifelong member of Forest Hills Baptist Church. Ray proudly served in the 17th Airborne Division, 194th Glider Infantry during World War II, receiving a Bronze Star for action during Operation Varsity, three battle stars and one arrowhead. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Faye (Rainwater) Harper of Nashville; daughter, Debra H. (Sonny) Oliphant, Columbus, OH; sons, Douglas (Dawn) Harper, Columbia, SC, Sean Harper, Nashville, TN; grandchildren, Will Oliphant, Marysville, OH, Shannon Murlin, Columbus, OH, Bronwyn Harper, Columbia, SC, Gillian Harper, Columbia, SC and five great-grandchildren. The family will receive friends on Saturday, July 23rd, in the Palm Drawing Room from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m., with graveside funeral services to be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 23, 2011 at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

Orville William Griffith (507th)
My father was Orville William Griffith.  He served in the 17th airborne 507 Parachute infantry group.  He ended his service as a sergent. 

I am writing this to let anyone who might remember my dad that he passed away on Nov. 12, 2012, at the age of 98.

He never talked much about his tour in operation varsity, just a story here and there, but I know it was a life-changing event for him. If there is any way to find out more about his service  with the 507th or to contact anyone who might have known him,  please let me know.

Thank you so much


Paul D. Griffith
1380 NW Lancashire Ct.
Beaverton, Oregon 97006

Editors Note: Paul, we have added you to the mailing list for our electronic newsletter, "Thunder From Heaven", and hope that you will join our organization, which is growing every week.
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Our mailing address is:
Scions of the 17th Airborne
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd.
Danbury, CT 06811
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