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 # 18 - March 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 - J.D. Tippit (513th PIR)

-   Lancaster, PA Operation Varsity Gathering

-   Scions 2013 Gathering Schedule

-   Operation Varsity Reunions in 2014
   by Michele Smith & Nancy Lauria

    Scions to Invade Europe in 2015
    by Jeff Schumacher

    Calling all Scions
     by Michele Smith

   Welcome New Scion Members

-   Scions Memorial Fund
     by Ed Siergiej Jr.

-   Chaplain's Corner
     by Isaac Epps, Scion Chaplain

-  Adopt a Veteran Project
   by Michele Smith

-  Translation of the book "Die Luftlanding" now available

  Become a Member of the Scions of the 17th Airborne

-  17th Airborne Online Store
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 us 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:


Officer J.D. Tippit was more than merely Oswald's "other victim"

From: ""

Officer J.D. Tippit was a perfect example of the “Greatest Generation” — a generation of Americans whose epic stories of victory, valor, and sacrifice are destined to echo throughout history.

 The son of a cotton farmer, J.D. Tippit was raised in the Red River Valley area in eastern Texas. This peaceful existence was interrupted by World War II, when he joined the army and volunteered for Airborne. 

Tippit earned a purple heart and a bronze star in heavy combat with the vaunted 17th Airborne Division, whose motto was “Thunder from Heaven.” He saw heavy combat in the Battle of the Bulge and in March of 1945 parachuted across the Rhine into Germany to help deliver the death blow to the Third Reich.

After the war, J.D. married the love of his life, Marie Frances Gasway. Their union would eventually be blessed with three children. In 1952, Tippit gave up cotton farming for good to join the Dallas Police Department, and it is here where we examine in greater detail the story of his heroic life.

First Arrest
On Officer Tippit’s first night on the job he was assigned to work a local fair. Officer Tippit made his “first arrest” when he spotted his brother with friends enjoying the fair. Tippit — who was a notorious practical joker — came up behind his brother, swept him to the ground and handcuffed him. 

He quickly whisked him away telling the crowd that they could go about their business because there was “nothing to see here, folks.” 

As Tippit reached his squad, he and his brother shared a good laugh and the young officer released him.

Tippit immediately loved police work, and in spite of such a light-hearted start he took it very seriously. 

Close Calls in 1956
On April 28, 1956, Tippit and his partner Officer Daniel Smith responded to a call of domestic violence in progress. As they arrived on scene the abused wife ran screaming from the house, while the woman’s abuser slammed the front door in the officers’ faces. 

Undeterred, Tippit and Smith crashed through the door, but were immediately set upon by the “demented” husband, who was armed with an ice pick. Before the wild man could be subdued Smith suffered a deep wound to his shoulder, while Officer Tippit was struck in the stomach and the knee. 

Officer Tippit underwent surgery to remove the tip of the ice pick which had broken off and become embedded in his knee cap.

On September 2, a fully recovered Tippit and his partner Dale Hankins were doing a “routine” walk through at the Club 80 Bar in Dallas. Tippet spotted a man in one of the booths, who looked like the face on a wanted bulletin the department had received from Denver. 

The two officers contacted the man and asked him to step outside with them. The man initially feigned cooperation, but suddenly produced a .25 caliber semi-automatic and shoved it into Tippit’s face. 

The suspect squeezed the trigger, but had left the weapon on safe.

Tippit and his partner both drew and fired. Together they put seven rounds into the suspect, killing him before he could recover from his mental misstep.

Tippit later confided to a fellow officer that the muzzle of that small caliber weapon “looked like a stove pipe!”

A Last Kiss Goodbye 
On November 22, 1963 the entire city of Dallas was buzzing about the visit of President John F. Kennedy. Tippit checked in at 0730 hours at the Oak Hill substation to begin his patrol shift. He was a little disappointed that he would not see President Kennedy — his assigned patrol area was five miles from downtown Dallas, where the President would be making his rounds. 

Officer Tippit’s shift was initially uneventful. He was even able to stop home for lunch. His wife Marie made him a tuna sandwich and fried potatoes. After that lunch Tippit kissed Marie goodbye and went back out on patrol. 

Neither of them realized this would be their last kiss shared in this world.

President Kennedy Has Been Shot
At 1230 hours President Kennedy was shot. Tippit — who was far from the chaos — was unable to help in any way other than to diligently begin a search of his area after a description of the assassin was broadcast. 

At 1314 hours, Tippit spotted a nervous young man near 10th and Patton in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas who matched the description of the suspect. Officer Tippit pulled alongside to take a closer look. 

After talking to him briefly at the window of the patrol car the man was directed to the front of the squad and Tippit exited to continue his investigation. 

As Officer Tippit approached, the man suddenly drew a .38 caliber revolver and shot Tippit three times in the chest at close range. After Tippit fell, the suspect — Lee Harvey Oswald — placed the muzzle of his weapon next to the wounded officer’s temple and fired.

Oswald fled, and a citizen called in the assault by using Tippit’s radio. 

Minutes later, Dallas officers converged on a theatre the killer had ducked into after seeing the approach of officers. 

Oswald was apprehended after a fierce struggle and arrested for the murder of Officer Tippit. 

Tippit’s instincts were proven to be correct. Lee Harvey Oswald was, indeed, the man who shot President John F. Kennedy.

More Than a Footnote 
This fallen hero was much more than a footnote in history. Throughout his life J. D. Tippet repeatedly as well as voluntarily put himself in harm’s way. As a soldier he parachuted into Nazi Germany to help end the war. As a police officer he initiated the action that not only cost him his life, but also ultimately led to the apprehension of a presidential assassin.

Officer J.D. Tippit was a perfect example of the “Greatest Generation” — a generation of Americans whose epic stories of victory, valor, and sacrifice are destined to echo throughout history, eternally undiminished like “Thunder from Heaven.”

Editors Note: J.D. Tippit served with the 513th PIR

Lancaster PA - 2014
Photos by Rose Friday

The following photos from our Lancaster, PA gathering this year give you a good idea of this wonderful event. Veterans attending were
Joe Quade
John Kormann
George Hudica
John Schumacher
William Keeler
Edwin Jefferson
Ben Nothstine
Jean Klick
Ray Wallace
Glider Pilot George Theis

This year we had several special guests. Glider Pilot George Theis and the family of Sidney Dickason, 761st Tank Battalion

The total group was about 70 persons.

Once again, the staff of the Steamboat Inn were fantastic. 

Next month, Michele Smith will provide a recap of the Lancaster gathering for this newsletter.
Scion Matt Baldwin and ------------------------- again displayed their collection of Airborne equipment. We hope that next year, they can return again for a longer period of time.
Rhonda Stevenson, & Sidney Dickason Jr. the daughter & son of Sidney Dickason, 761st Tank Battalion and her family joined us on Sunday. We were honored to have them tell us about their fathers service. The 761st supported the 17th Airborne during the Ardennes (Bulge) Campaign. 
Left - 17th veteran John Schumacher with Glider Pilot George Theis, who flew a glider in "Operation Varsity"

Right - George Theis discusses Operation Varsity 
Patricia Overman gave a fascinating presentation on her research into Operation Varsity. Patricia has been of great help to the Scions with her knowledge of the National Archives. She has been researching her fathers  WWII history as a glider pilot, and along with her husband, Bruce, have an incredible knowledge of the Operation Varsity Drop and Landing Zones. Patricia's father, Lee Whitmire, flew a glider during Operation Varsity. Many thanks to Patricia and Bruce for joining our gathering, and for a great presentation!
Left - TV station WGAL interviews 17th veterans

Right - Veterans assembled for interview with WGAL

To see the local coverage of our reunion, click here
Left - Patty Overman talks with Charlie Jones Jr

Right - Scion Stacy Nyikos talks with 17th veteran Joe Quade. Stacy is an author & is writing a book about her grandfather, H. Clay Schreck (194 / G)
Left - John Schumacher and Ben Nothstine view Scion Matt Baldwin's display of WWII Airborne Equipment

Right - Ed Siergiej with Lillian and John Leary
Left - Joe and Sue Quade

Right - 17th Veterans John Schumacher, George Hudica, and Ben Nothstine with a WWII Navy veteran who happened to be staying at the hotel. He and his daughter joined us for dinner.
Left - Rose Friday and Joe Denigan

Right - Scions Executive Committee - Isaac Epps, Robert Smith, Rose Friday, Ed Siergiej, Melanie Sembrat, Cindy Heigl, and Michele Smith
Brook Blades, who is preparing a documentary film about Operation Varsity showed us a great preview of what the film will include. 
Left - Joe Quades "Horserace" Game - Scion Patty Bowers moves the horses as Isaac Epps rolls the dice, and Joe Quade calculates the odds

Right - Jos Bex and Richard Madden
Left - 17th Veterans George Hudica, John Schumacher, and Ben Nothstine with Glider Pilot George Theis

Right - Scion Charlie Jones Jr speaks about his book, "Fire On Me"
Left - 17th Veteran Rev William Keeler delivers invocation at Memorial Service

Right - 17th Veteran John Kormann reads the names of those 17th veterans we have lost this past year
Left - Scion John Leary places candle 

Right - Glider Pilot George Theis places a candle in memory of the many Glider Pilots killed in WWII
Left - Karen Epps Owens places candle for the men of the 761st Tank Battalion

Right - Scion Isaac Epps delivers meditation at Memorial Service
To see a video of this Candlelight Memorial Service, click here.
Left - 17th veterans William Keeler, George Hudica, John Schumacher, Ben Nothstine, Jean Klick, Edwin Jefferson, & John Kormann, with Glider Pilot George Theis, and Nadia Sembrat

Right - Scions attending the Memorial Service
Scions Patty Stinchcomb and Marcy Stinchcomb Schuerholz, daughters of Mick Stinchcomb (680th) and Melanie Sembrat, daughter of Harry Sembrat (513 HQ) release balloons in memory of their fathers who passed on this past year.


Dawn Kerns and Tammy Distefano, daughters of David A Kerns (466th & Recon) 
Tammy spotted the interview with our veterans on WGAL, called the station for more details, and came to the hotel to join us with her sister. They were able to join us for dinner. We welcome them to the 17th Airborne Family!
Left - Alan Klick, his father Jean Klick (193/E) and Ray Wallace (507)

Right - Isaac Epps dances with Cindy Heigl
Left - Verna Greenwald, wife of Harold Greenwald (680 HQ)

Right - Barbara Tuttle, Jonathan Owens, Isaac Epps, and Karen Owens
Left - Isaac Epps, Ed Siergiej Jr, and Joe Denigan

Right - Adam Coolong, Frank Coolong, Ed Siergiej Jr., Richard Madden, and Jos Bex wind down the day at the bar. Challange coins were presented, and someone without one ....... bought the round.
Replica of 17th Airborne Division
Flag Unveiled

 During the past year, the Scions have begun an initiative to attend the funerals of 17th veterans whenever possible. After contacting the family, Scion Chaplain Isaac Epps makes phone calls to our members in the same geographic area where the funeral will be held to find someone who can attend the memorial. When that person is located, we pack up our flag and ship it to our representative who often will stand at graveside. Of course this is only done in accordance with the plans and wishes of the family. We have shipped our Scion flag from coast to coast numerous times in the past year. 
  As we participated in these memorials, we began to consider having a replica of the original 17th Airborne Division Flag made for this purpose, and for use at our meetings. Our first step was to contact the U.S. Army office of Heraldry, located at the Pentagon. They provided the original specifications for the flag. The next step was to locate a company to manufacture the flag. We got several quotes and finally settled on a firm located by Scion Melanine Sembrat, daughter of Harry Sembrat (513 HQ1) Melanie made a visit to the firm to inspect their operation. It was decided to have the talon emblem and tab manufactured by an embroidery firm and have these sewn to each side of the flag. Original Talon patches were used to get the correct color match with modern thread colors. Each Talon emblem has over 16,000 stitches.
 The completed flag was delivered just in time to be unveiled at the Lancaster reunion.
 The icing on the cake was provided by Col. John Kormann, who had made a generous donation toward the construction of the flag. He provided a flagstaff, used in his office while a diplomat in Benghazi, Libya, in 1967. He rescued this flagstaff and base when the embassy was attacked. 
Charlie Jones Jr.
"Fire On Me"

 Veterans and Scions attending the Lancaster reunion were honored to hear Charlie Jones Jr, (son of Charlie Jones, 466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion), introduce his book "Fire On Me". 
 In the next issue of TFH, we will provide details about how you can purchase this great book. 
John Leather returns to the ETO
Each year, our friends from the 101st Airborne Belgian Friendly Group host a 17th Airborne veteran and his family on a wonderful tour of the areas where he served in Belgium. This year, 17th Veteran John Leather and his family were hosted on this wonderful trip. The following photos have come to us from our good friends Flory & Joe Somers. We thank the everyone involved with this effort to honor the men of the 17th Airborne Division.
A video of some of the events that John participated in can be viewed here.
Margraten Memorial Group Remembers
Operation Varsity 

Ralph Peeters sent these photos of the memorial service at Margraten Cemetery in the Netherlands to commemorate Operation Varsity. These fine friends have been very generous to those of us who have traveled to visit this beautiful resting place for our fallen troopers. 
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.

22nd Annual Reunion
Wheeling, WV

by Scion Nancy Lauria

When: April 24 – April 27, 2014
WHERE: Hampton Inn
                795 National Rd.
                WHEELING WEST VIRGINIA 26003
                Phone:  1-304-233-0440
Rate:  $138.88 Includes all taxes (queen beds)
                     free hot & cold breakfast in lobby.
When reserving your room, let them know you are with The 17th Airborne to get the rate of $138.88. Please reserve your room early. RESERVATION MUST BE MADE BY APRIL 17TH, 2014.
Hospitality room opens everyday at 9:00 A.M. and closes when the last person leaves.  We will provide ice, pop, liquor, paper products, snacks, coffee and tea.  We ask beer drinkers to bring their own beer. 

There will be a complimentary Friday night dinner in the hotel.  Saturday night we will also eat dinner in the hotel.  Bob Hitchman, the owner of the hotel has offered to cook dinner for us on Friday and Saturday.  Saturdays  menu will be chicken tenders ( 2 dipping sauces) pork chops and accompanying sides.   The cost  will be $20.00 - $25.00 per person.
Please let us know if you are attending The Varsity Reunion.  If you are unable to attend, we would appreciate a note from you to read to your friends.

Airborne All The Way
(Jim) & Nancy Lauria                                                    Betty Rea
1888 Micaela Ct.                                                            1117 Main St.
Lakeview, N.Y. 14085                                                    Follansbee, WV. 26037
716- 627 -5077                                                                304-527-0567
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.

by Scion VP Michele Smith

Everyone has a talent they can share and as we grow as an organization, the Scions of the 17th Airborne will benefit from your time and talent.This should be fun and personally rewarding and should not interfere with your normal employment and everyday duties. I came across an old letter my Dad, Bill Smith 466th, wrote in the TMC when he was Chairman of one of his 17th Reunions entitled "Future Reunions" and realized much of his advice then, still applies to us today, so I will paraphrase his remarks with some of my own as it relates to the Scions.
The Future belongs to those who prepare for it! Preparation should start now in order to perpetuate our organization. As we continue to grow, it's more important than ever to have a team effort to accomplish our objectives. First, consider attending the mini Reunions held in Lancaster and Ohio and also the Veteran's Day ceremonies at Arlington. Anyone who has ever attended has always enjoyed the camaraderie of interacting with our Veterans and fellow Scions. Patricia Bowers, who attended Lancaster for the first time last March and again in Arlington told me she feels like she has a second family in the Scions. I guarantee you will feel that way too! Consider also organizing your own mini reunion. It is relatively easy to do and we are here to help you get started. To successfully run your reunion it's important to have a team effort if you are chairing the reunion with a committee of 3-5 scions working closely with you. We can possibly help you locate Troopers in your area who would like to attend if they are able. We have had Troopers and Scions attend from all over the country as well as our European friends. Other Troopers have expressed interest in attending, but because of the distance or physical restriction that prevents them from driving or traveling alone, have not been able to attend.
Wouldn't it be nice if a reunion was held near them and they could buddy up with someone so they could attend. If you think you would like to host a future reunion email me at with a number I can reach you and I will be happy to give you ideas on how our reunions are organized and run.
Many of you have expressed an interest in getting involved and helping. When we had our business meeting in Arlington we discussed some areas where we need volunteers to chair and join a committee, and they are as follows: 
Membership Chair and committee:
Currently we have 150 Members, 56 Honorary Members, 23 Distinguished Honorary Members and 2 Associate Members. Our numbers grow monthly thanks to Facebook and the great job Ed Siergiej Jr has done with  the help of fellow Scion Adam Coolong on our evolving website with the help of Scion Danny Carter. We have many more names who can be contacted, who may still not be aware of our organization and need to be brought into the fold. Membership committee also follows up on annual dues.

Archives Coordinator.
Each year a team has gone to the National Archives prior to attending the Veterans Day ceremonies at Arlington. To this point close to 1000 pages of documents have been scanned. Our goal is to organize this information in such a way that we can provide information to Scions researching their 17th veteran, as well as selecting which of these files will be included on our website. When we have a research request, this would also be directed to the Archives Coordinator. Ideally, the coordinator would also plan future trips to the Archives and prevent duplication of effort.
Scion Adam Coolong has volunteered to help coordinate this project. Adam has already been of great help with the publication of this newsletter and has great technical computer skills. Thanks Adam, for stepping up!

Arlington Coordinator:
Our annual gathering for the ceremonies at Arlington is attracting more Scions each year. This position would involve coordinating with the 82nd Airborne group who plans the event,  selecting a hotel, hopefully with a package rate plan for the weekend, and making everyone aware of the events, time etc.
Scion Directory.
This is a project that Scion Isaac Epps has been pushing for, for quite some time. A Scion directory will be extremely beneficial for a number of reasons, including finding local volunteers to represent Scions at funerals
 , to promote the "Adopt a Veteran Program", for visits to hospitals, nursing homes or hospice facilities, for coordination of mini reunions, and contacting other Scions whose Dads, Uncles, Brothers were in the same unit. Participation in the directory is strictly voluntary by permission only.

Bookkeeper: to assist the Secretary /Treasurer
As the organization grows we feel it seems prudent to make sure that the finances remain in good control. It is anticipated that in 2014, the Scion will get approval from the Federal Government on our application for Non-Profit status. This will require an annual filing. With these issues in mind, we are seeking a Scion with Accounting, or Bookkeeping experience to act as another set of eyes on the finances, and to assist with any filings required.
Scion Jeff Schumacher has volunteered to help support us in this regard.
Thanks, Jeff for your help!

Please email your interest in volunteering for any of the above to Ed Siergiej at: Please make sure that you indicate which committee you would like to Chair or join or Office and a number you can be reached.

Finally, these were areas we discussed where help is needed now. We always welcome other suggestions or ideas from you to make our organization bigger and better.
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 donation from 17th veteran Col. John Kormann to make possible the creation of a replica of the original 17th Airborne Division Flag, unveiled at our Lancaster, PA reunion
Other generous donations to our memorial fund have been made by:
Patricia Bowers - Daughter of Thomas Miller (193rd HQ2)
Richard Madden - Son of Hal Madden (680th A Battery)
Skip Greeby - Associate Member
Ed Milford - Associate Member

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.
Ben Scott
son of John S. Scott  (513th/I)
Ringgold, GA

Alan Hartley
son of Kenneth D. Hartley (466th/Battery A)
Doniphan, NE

Michael Frangione
grandson of Victor B. Frangione (513th/I)
Yukon, OK

Jane Greubel Phung
daughter of Eugene Oscar Adler (139th)
Chantilly, VA

Melissa Dougherty
grand daughter of Thomas Miller (193th/HQ2)
Harrisburg, PA

Alan Klick
son of Jean Klick (193th/E)
Crofton, MD

Associate Members

Mark O'Brien
East Aurora, N.Y.

Travis Aldous
Clarksburg, MD

Edward Milford
Annville, PA

Theresa Grey
Mechanicsburg, MD

Chaplains Corner
by Isaac Epps

  The theme of the Lancaster Memorial Service this year was about how these  brave Troopers looked to each other for support when the fighting starts. That holds true no matter the war or the conflict. When combat begins, there are no more politics and in many cases, the mission becomes surviving and taking care of the man on the left and the one on the right; and that holds true right down the line.
  A poem by James Casey sums up the feeling of loss when one of  them loses a buddy.
  Rest my brothers
  Rest easy, sleep well my brothers
  Know the line was held, your job is done 
  Rest easy, sleep well.
  Others have taken up where you fell, the line was held.
  Peace, Peace, and farewell
English Translation of "Die Luftlanding" Book

Jos Bex and his wife Maria were able to attend the Lancaster reunion this year, and were able to carry a number of copies of his translation of "Die Luftlanding", originally written by Johan Nitrowski. Mr Nitrowski gave permission for Jos to translate the book into English, so that our veterans could read it. 

During the reunion, many of the attendees were able to purchase copies of the new book, but a few copies remained unsold at the end of our gathering. We have purchased the remaining five copies and will have them for sale on a first come, first served basis. The cost will be $70 each. To reserve a copy send us an email to:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.

Ed, I found the picture at the Salvation Army Thrift Boutique in Tigard Oregon in March 2013. Tigard is just west of Portland. Two senior citizen housing developments are in that area; Summerfield and King City.

The picture was for sale as an individual item, and I searched the store for any other objects that might have been connected to him, with no luck.

The Boutique stores sell the better items culled from donations. The donation could have come in anywhere in the Portland area and the picture shunted off to the boutique.

There are no markings on the picture.

Sick Call

Mike Rock has been in the hospital recently, but is now home recovering. We all missed Mike at the Lancaster gathering. Mike can be reached at:
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. (
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62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd
Danbury, CT 06811
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