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 # 20 - May 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 - Collision at Sea
     by Leonard Lindenbaum (507/SV)

-    Memorial Day Tributes to 17th Airborne Medal of Honor

-    17th Airborne Represented on Historic C-47 Flight to Europe
      by Melanie Sembrat

-    Rives Carroll's trip to Wesel
      by Jos Bex

-   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

Thunder Mail Call by Bill Tom

- Letters From Home and Abroad

-  Sick Call


-  17th Airborne Online Store

-   Become a Member of the Scions of the 17th Airborne
 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:
Help the Scions to Provide This Newsletter to Our Veterans Who Do Not Use Email
Our list of veterans who are getting this newsletter in a hard copy format is growing as our organization grows. Up to this point the cost of printing copies of the newsletter and mailing it has been donated by one of our Scions. However as the list grows the organization will need to offset these costs. Please consider making a donation to support this effort.
 Donations can be sent to us at the address below. Please note that the gift is earmarked to support the newsletter effort.

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


 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:

Collision at Sea

By Leonard Lindenbaum (507/Svc. Co.)

This will be my best recollection of the event that took place aboard the subject ship.

The J.W. McAndrew was a cargo ship that was taken over by the U.S. Army, and converted to a Troop Transport. There were bunks set up in each of the holds. I was assigned to number  3 hold, which was mid ship.

Prior to departure we were given instruction as to certain procedures during the voyage. A signal that would require to stay in our holds so the crew could take care of any emergency situations, another alarm to take stations to abandon ship. We were told that if we were required to abandon ship, the life boats were for the crew of the ship, the troops were to use life rafts which were piled on the deck of the ship. We were told that we would use scramble nets to abandon ship. Also, they gave each of us a bunch of condoms. To this day I don't know what they intended us to use them for. When we left port, we were the last ship in a convoy. To our right, and slightly ahead of us was a French baby flat top named Bearn.

About 1am of the second or third night out, I don't remember which night, we felt a massive crash. The first signal was the one to stay in our bunks. Some time later, an officer cane to the top of the gangway and told us there was a small hole in the front of the ship, everything was O.K. A short time later, we were given the signal take stations to abandon ship. We ran up to the deck, there was water on the deck, and we thought the ship was sinking. The convoy, including the Bearn, were gone. There was one little Navy ship, a Destroyer Escort or D/E, to the side of us, and shinning a spotlight on us. We stood in ranks waiting to be told what we were going to do. The Captain spoke  to us over the loud speaker, and telling us that the Bearn had come around, and hit us head on. The Captain said we were going to stay with the ship, and head for the Azores
Islands, about 200 miles away, and we could only make 2 or 3 knots with safety. We were told to go back to our holds. 

When we got back to our bunks, a buddy of mine and I talked about preparations we should make if we needed to abandon ship. We didn't know how long we would be out on a raft.We decided we would sleep clothed, and keep a full canteen of water. We needed something to eat to keep us alive. We each had a full box of candy bars. We stuffed the candy bars into the condoms we were given. We tied the open ends in knots to make them watertight. The next day we learned more about the collision. A huge hole had been torn in number 1 Hold. The troop commander was at the pulling men out of the  hold which was filling with water. Some of them when they got up on deck went over the side. The ship's Captain, because of concern of losing the ship gave orders to close he hatch. We were told that 87 men were lost at sea. A member of the crew, who was on duty at the forward gun, was killed in the incident.

It took about 3 days to get to the harbor at Porta Delgado on the Island of San Miguel. We were told that we could not go ashore, because we were in a neutral port. After about  4 or 5 days, the word went out that some of the guy were going to go ashore. We all gathered on deck, and some of the guys climbed down the ropes that tied us to break-water on which you can walk to town.

There was a Lt. in the crowd, he yelled to the guys to come back or he would shoot them. One member of the crowd hollered that if he pulled the gun out, we would kill him. The Lt. walked away. After that, they decided to take us ashore in groups of 30.

We were in that port for a total of eight days. We were told to get our things together, there was a ship outside the harbor to pick us up. The Navy sent a D.E. down from a U.S. port in the Azores, and it took us out in groups to the ship. If you have never climbed aboard a ship by Scramble Net, with your duffle bag, rifle, steel helmet, take my word for it, it ain't fun.

The ship was carrying Australian troops to England, and they wee a very angry bunch. I didn't blame them. Australia was in danger from Japan, and they had to go fight for the Mother Country. Eventually I was able to join the 507th.

I still get depressed when I think about the troopers in number one hold, having the hatch closed on them. By the way, we ate the candy bars on the British ship. They were better than greasy mutton.

Leonard Lindenbaum
The J.W. McAndrew
Scions Remember 17th Airborne Medal of Honor Recipients
Continuing a tradition begun in 2013, the Scions of the 17th Airborne have contacted members and friends in the U.S, and in Europe, and made arrangements to place wreaths at the graves of the 17th's four Medal of Honor Recipients.

We thank everyone who has taken on this honorable work.
Scion Judy Foster, daughter of James "Pork Chops" Foster 194/C with wreath at the Grave of Medal of Honor recipient Clinton Hedrick. 
17th Veteran Bill Tom and Mike Martinez, son of 17th Veteran Adolph Martinez at the grave of Stuart Stryker, at the San Bruno, CA National Cemetery
Our friends of the Margraten Memorial Group gathered at Margraten Cemetery on Memorial Day and sent these great photos. 
Flory and Joe Somers Placed this Beautiful Flower Arrangement at the Grave of Medal of Honor Recipient George Peters (507th)
Some of the Margraten Memorial Group and other visitors honoring all fallen soldiers at the grave of George Peters. With the group is Rives Carol, daughter of Chaplain Paschal D. Fowlkes, 507th who was KIA in Operation Varsity.
Pierre Ackermans as the oldest of the group did a little ceremony with a minute of silence.
Photo by Erwin Flohr
Flowers at the Missing Wall
(Left) We met nice people who take care for graves at a British military cemetery in Brunssum the Netherlands.
Here Flory is telling them about the 17th Airborne and showing pictures.

(Right) Flyover by Jets
Greg Haupt, nephew of 17th veteran John Leather's stepson George Kline laid the wreath at the grave of Isadore Jachman in Maryland. John could not make this visit this year, and we are grateful to Greg for placing this beautiful wreath for the Scions. 
 Below is a photo of John placing the wreath last year.
17th Airborne Represented on Historic Flight to Europe

by Melanie Sembrat
C-47 Aircraft Whiskey 7 at Ramstein Airbase in Germany
Photo from Stars & Stripes

Scion Melanie Sembrat, daughter of Harry Sembrat (513 HQ) attended the departure of a C-47 aircraft from Geneseo NY to Europe to participate in the 70th anniversary of D-day in Normandy. This aircraft actually dropped men of the 82nd Airborne on D-day, and participated in Operation Varsity as well. Melanie made arrangements for our new Scion flag to travel on the aircraft and sends the following report.

I attended the departure ceremony of “Whiskey 7” in Geneseo NY on 15 May 2014; while no “for the public” presentation was made, the flag of the 17th Airborne Division was present and on display (flown on the ground next to the door-side wing) and attended to by a re-enactor (portraying an 82nd trooper).

(A short Whiskey 7 bio (from their website): Whiskey 7 rolled off of the Douglas Aircraft assembly line in Long Beach, California in September 1943 and was assigned USAAF serial number 43-30652. From there she was assigned to the 12th Air Force, 316th Troop Carrier Group, 37th Troop Carrier Squadron.)

I had the opportunity to speak with a few WWII veterans attending the event – not all paratroopers, but all ETO vets. I was approached by one media representative; briefly, I told her that the luncheon and events that day were for the Whiskey 7 send-off, informed her about the Scions and the 17th Airborne Division, and gave her the web site address for her to reference at a later date (in other words, kept the focus on the events of the day).

Prior to departure, the flag was secured for travel and placed in the aircraft for the trip to Europe. We did not send a flag pole and stand along due to space constraints; I spoke with the crew and hope to see the flag on display at some of the events the aircraft participates in.

The Scions presented a check to the National Warplane Museum specifically for use by the Whiskey 7 account; basically, we bought them approximately an hourÂ’s worth of fuel. The donation was underwritten by a Scions member and drawn on the memorial fund; the check was presented to the National Warplane MuseumÂ’s administration on 15 May 2014.

We hope to have a presence in Geneseo upon the return of Whiskey 7; date and time “TBA”.  

Editors Note: You can follow the progress of this historic aircraft on their website.
They also have a
Facebook page 
with many great photos of the trip. 

Rives Carroll's Trip to Wesel

by Jos Bex


Dedicated to:
Paschal D. Fowlkes
Chaplain - Captain, U.S. Army
507th Parachute Infantry Regiment

A couple of days before this year’s 17th Airborne Lancaster meeting, I met Rives Carroll and husband Dickson in Washington DC to have lunch and plan a possible tour for them in the Op. Varsity area.
She wanted to walk the fields in which her father, a 507th PIR Chaplain, had been KIA on March 24th 1945.

Rives told me her father stepped forward to look after a wounded buddy, who had just been fired at.
DZ-W, at the time, wasn’t a safe place to be right after the landings.  Ignoring the danger, Paschal Fowlkes trid to reach his buddy, but never did.  He was shot dead by German MG fire coming from the DZ.

Rives was born after her father left for the European Theatre of Operations, so both her and her father
had never seen each other. Therefore this proud daughter carried her father’s photo along to the Flüren DZ.

Rives had been to Europe before, but never visited her father’s battlefields. This time she wanted to get
as close to her father as possible, which we did.

After walking the fields we met up with a few German locals, descendents of residents who lived
on the DZ during Op. Varsity. Some of which are mentioned in the English translation of “Die Luftlandung”,
recently published.
Jos Bex
The Netherlands

The former 194th GIR CP at Wesel. Now a hotel.  Rives Carroll and her husband
Dickson took a tour in the Varsity Area guided by ETO-Tours host Jos Bex.

Rives and her husband Dickson getting through the Varsity history during lunch...

DZ-W. The field Rives' father was KIA during Varsity, March 24, 1945.
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 sent this update on the trip status:

Greetings fellow Scions and honored Veterans.  Interest in a 2015 trip to the WWII European Theater of Operations (ETO) continues to build as we head into summer, and - finally - warm weather.  

We’ve heard from nearly 50 Scions and family members representing the 193rd, 194th, 513th and 680th, interested in visiting 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!  

Interest was bolstered at the Lancaster reunion with folks representing the National WWII Glider Pilots Association and friends thereof - and we look forward to representation from this group in the ETO to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Operation Varsity.  

Dates:  The Trip schedule is slated for March 19-29, 2015.  That will coincide with events planned in the Bulge as well as the 70th Anniversary of Varsity, with a trip to the Wesel and surrounding area.  We continue to have interested and dedicated folks volunteer their assistance to make the trip special.  We have trip planning taking place in June and expect to provide an update of expectations in the July TFH.

For those of you that are interested but have not yet made contact - please drop me a line or call.  (email is best - see the address below).

So, fellow Scions - consider the experience of traveling to the ETO together as a group - representing the 17th - to see where our vets served and experience the hospitality of the region. 

Let me know if you are interested and include basic contact information (names, where you live, how to contact you - email or otherwise), your 17th vet connection (i.e. son/daughter, etc. of a veteran?), please indicate the unit(s) in which “your vet” served, and 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.   Put the dates into your 2015 calendar - no commitments needed today, but by mid-summer we will have more details on which you can base your decision.  

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
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: 
John C Macauley (513/HQ2)
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 D. Miley
Son of General William Miley
Williamsburg, VA

Vicki Cole
Daughter of Austin Y Steen Jr. (513/G)
Big Springs, TX 

Maureen McDonald Partyka
Daughter of William McDonald (513th) KIA 3/27/45
Old Saybrook, CT

David Widner
Associate Member
Silver Spring, MD

Phil Eastman
Son of Harold Dean Eastman (194th)
Olathe, KS

Suzanne Wright
Daughter of Gerard L. McGowan (194th)
Greensburg, PA

Chaplains Corner
by Isaac Epps

There are 1,741 personnel listed by the Defense Department's POW/MIA Office from the Vietnam war as still missing. It is believed that The White Table Ceremony or the Remembrance Ceremony was started to honor them during that war by the River Rats; sailors who patrolled the rivers in PBR (Patrol Boat River).

That Ceremony has evolved over the years to be included by every branch of the Armed Forces and for every conflict at events where a Memorial Luncheon or a Memorial Banquet is included. Although there are some variations adopted by individual units as to what appears on the table; such as including hats and Bibles; there is a standard setting and a statement that makes up the Ceremony.

Here is how that is offered; including the symbolism of each item.
As you entered this evening, you may have noticed a small table in a place of honor. It is set for one. This table is our way of symbolizing the fact that members of our profession of arms are missing from our midst. They are commonly called POWs or MIAs; we call them "Brothers". They are unable to be with us this evening and so we remember them.

This Table set for one is small--Symbolizing the frailty of one person alone against his oppressors.

The Tablecloth is white--Symbolizing the purity of their intentions to respond to their country's call to arms.

The Single Red Rose displayed in a vase reminds us of the families and loved ones of our comrades-in-arms who keep the faith awaiting their return.

The Red Ribbon tied so prominently on the vase is reminiscent of the red ribbon worn upon the lapel and breasts of thousands who bear witness to their unyielding determination to demand a proper accounting of the missing.
  The Candle is lit--Symbolizing the upward reach of their unconquerable spirit.
  The Slice of Lemon is on the bread plate to remind us of their bitter fate.
  There is Salt upon the bread plate--Symbolic of the families' tears as they wait.
  The Glass is inverted--They cannot toast with us tonight.
  The Chair is empty. They are not here. 

All of you who served with them and called them Comrades; who depended upon their might and aid; and relied upon them for surely they have not forgotten you----REMEMBER!
  REMEMBER---until the day they come home---REMEMBER!

National POW/MIA Remembrance Day is held on the third Friday in September. May God Bless their Sacrifices.
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. 


From Scion Historian Paul Madden

Sgt. Johnnie Henley Burns Jr. 513th PIR

A friend for many years (and now residing back in his home town of Sumner Il) saw a post I made on Facebook about the 17th AB Reunion in Lancaster Pa. He posted back to relate a story he remembered as a young man back in the early 1970's about a soldier named Johnnie H. Burns Jr. from his hometown of Sumner Il. He was a Paratrooper during WWII and made a combat jump across the Rhine and was killed sometime after the jump and was buried in Europe. 

Johnnies parents were of course devastated by the loss of their only son and their grief followed them for some 30 years after Johnnies death. His parents then in their Golden Years, wanted to have Johnnie disinterred and brought back home so they could be buried next to him when their time came. The town of Sumner Il. welcomed it's long lost son home and Johnnie was reburied in the Sumner County Cemetery with full Military Honors. 
Dennis (my friend) didn't know much more about Johnnie's story or military service and asked me if perhaps he served in the 17th AB. I was able to find out that Johnnie was indeed a Paratrooper in the 17th AB serving with the 513th PIR. Dennis recently went to visit the Sumner cemetery and found Johnnies grave and took some pictures of his head stone. Thanks to my friend Dennis B. for going out to find him and bringing his story to us.

It would be nice to find some pictures Johnnie while he was alive. If anyone can help locate any pictures or anymore info please let us know.

Thanks to Glen Stover for helping with this information.
From Sharon Beckwith:

To those who have served and are serving,
THANK YOU for your service and sacrifice!
Mere words can never express our thankfulness and gratitude;
GOD BLESS you and those who wait for your return.
"For knowing that I have a place
as I wake to a new day,
For the right to speak my mind,
or kneel quietly to pray...
For the dreams I strive to reach,
for the love I'm free to give.
For the laughter shared with dearest friends,
a necessity to live...
For the security and peace of mind,
that all is safe and sound.
For growing, sharing, hoping, caring ~
there's goodness all around.
For all of this, we're grateful for,
for whisper soft, or loudly sing...
Their duty and their sacrifice
have let our freedom ring!"

In Memory of
Charles M Beckwith, Jr
3/19/1926 - 2/19/2013

U S Army WWII Veteran 

7/26/1944 - 7/06/1946

Paratrooper - Battery C 466th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion

served with the 101st, 82nd and 17th Airborne Division,

received a Presidential Citation,

was in the last combat jump into Germany, March 1945

Battles and Campaigns: Central Europe, Rhineland

Decorations and Citations: American Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal,

World War II Victory Medal, European - African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal

A Dream Come True
by Tom Gogal
Nephew of Tom Gogal (680th Glider Field Artillery Bn)
Operation Varsity
“A Dream Come True”

When I was ten years old, visiting my Bubba (grandma in Slovak) in Hauto, Pennsylvania, my Uncle Lenny asked me to go for a ride with him. Uncle Lenny always had really neat cars, long and sleek and as a young fellow who liked cars at an early age I was anxious to go with him. The family had never talked much about my Uncle Tommy, I’m sure his loss was very painful for everyone, but Uncle Lenny wanted me to know he was not forgotten. We went several miles up the road that ran through Hauto to the town of Hometown, Pennsylvania. He stopped at a cemetery just on the outskirts of town.

We got out of the car, walked into the cemetery and stopped at a small marker that read “Cpl. Thomas P. Gogal, Died March 24th, 1945”. Uncle Lenny explained to me that Uncle Tommy was killed during WWII just a short time before the war ended and that he was a very special brother and that is why I was named after him.

He said no one had any details about how Tommy died but that his body was buried in Holland. My Uncle explained that no one in the family had gone to Holland to visit his grave and that is where my dream started.

The Autumn of 2013 we received an invitation to a wedding to be held in Dresden Germany.  Christoph, our adopted German son, not really adopted but was an exchange student that stayed with us during the 1999-2000 school year, was marrying his fiancée, Claudia. Chris has returned to the U.S. twice since staying with us. The second time, in 2008, he brought his girlfriend Claudia to meet us. We knew they were a fit and told them if they were to marry we would attend if invited. So, last Autumn the trip planning began including a long awaited visit to the Netherlands.

On May 6th we flew from Portland Oregon to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. After spending three days enjoying Amsterdam we took the ICE train to Maastricht, Netherlands along the German border. When we arrived Saturday morning it was raining but it certainly did not dampen our spirits (our clothing was dampened a bit though).  After arriving at the apartment we had rented we dried off and relaxed. 

As previously arranged, at 5pm Jos Bex arrived. Jos and I had been communicating for a number of months via email.  Jos is a member of the Margraten Memorial Group and was instrumental in arranging for us to communicate with and meet several other members of the group. After visiting with Jos for an hour or so we went on to a restaurant where, for the first time, we met those wonderful  people  who we now consider friends. We were greeted by Pierre Ackerman and Joe and Flory Somers.

Prior to leaving the States, I had asked if it would be possible to meet the person responsible for the care of my Uncle’s grave these past sixty nine plus years and I believe Pierre Ackerman submitted the request and to my delight Mrs. Ger Slenter also attended the dinner. I cannot explain the emotions I felt at that moment, it was as if I had known these folks all of my life. The language barrier with Mrs. Slenter was no problem. We each knew what was in the other’s heart. By the way, Mrs. Slenter’s English was much better than my Dutch. After a wonderful meal and a lot of conversation it was agreed Pierre would pick us up near our apartment the next morning and take us to the American Cemetery at Margraten, just about fifteen minutes from Maastricht.

Sunday morning was cloudy, very cool and windy. My thoughts on the way to the cemetery were all over the place, it all seemed so surreal after all these years. Driving into the parking lot of the memorial a person is in awe of the beauty of the place and surrounds and then the view across the 8,301 crosses marking each grave site comes into view, almost too much to absorb.

First, we entered the office where we met Cecil Buis, the cemetery guide. Cecil knows all there is to know about Margraten and loves to share his knowledge. Also present were Jos, Flory and Mrs. Slenter  along with Pierre. We also met Ralph Peeters who came along to be the photographer and Mark Chernak who had a surprise planned for us. There also was another gentleman whose name slips my mind, but who was very much part of this wonderful day. After visiting for a few minutes in the office we began the walk to my Uncle’s gravesite for a graveside service. Along the way, one could not help to notice “The Wall Of The Missing” lining each side of the walk with the names of 1,722 brave soldiers that were never found, engraved on them.

Mrs. Slenter is now in a wheel chair and as we started to near the gravesite she stood up and took my arm, she knew what was in my heart at that moment and after all these years is still giving support. God Bless you Mrs. Slenter.

After the service and picture taking we returned to the chapel where Mark Chernak sang two wonderful songs he wrote for our Fallen Heroes. What a wonderful talent! Mark is a Gulf War Vet now living in Maastricht and I might add a former resident of my home state of New Jersey, also born in New Brunswick where I began life.
We ended this wonderful day by going to a beautiful country inn and having a cup of Espresso and the very best Rice Pudding Pie we had ever eaten. Saying our goodbyes, Pierre took us back to Maastricht.

I would like to say thank you again to Jos Bex, and to my daughter Lisa for starting things off with information from our local VFW which led us to the Scions and the Margraten Memorial Group. And on this side of the pond, Ed Siergiej and Michelle Smith. I don’t want to forget Mike Rock who as a young man grew up with my Uncle Tommy, went to school together and joined the service together. Mike explained how Tommy’s glider was shot down during Operation Varsity and Tommy was killed on impact. He saw his friend lying next to the wreckage. This eyewitness account solved the mystery of Tommy’s death.

This experience has forever changed my life.

God Bless you all, Thomas P. Gogal Sr.

PS If anyone has more information regarding Thomas Gogal or would simply like to talk, please contact me at
We were pleased to see that the traditions and oral histories of the great 17th Airborne are being continued. Our Museum President is CHARLES DAVIS from the 517th Airborne Signal Company (and his twin brother ALBERT), we also have two other troopers on staff. Please inform your members of our pledge to support you in anyway, and please stop in our Museum anytime. Regards, DAVID SHORTT/Curator CWO, US ARMY RETIRED, VETERANS MEMORIAL MUSEUM FOUNDATION, 123 S. MAIN ST., GERMANTOWN, OH 45327

Sick Call

Mike Rock (680B) is back in the hospital, as reported by Michele Smith. Mike always has a positive attitude, but his recent bout with sepsis has left him really weak (even so, he spent last Memorial Day weekend sitting in his wheel chair selling poppies)

I'm sure it would really cheer him up to get some get well cards from all of us - sent to his home address is best as his daughter Diane visits daily.Thanks.
Mike's address is;
 Mike Rock
70 Gasko Road
Mays Landing, NJ 08330


by Isaac Epps

   The ones who went
   Were truly sent
   To do a Noble Deed;
   When evil showed
   They took the load
   In Justice, they believed.
   They heard the call
   And gave their All
   And some did not not come back.
   They knew the chance

   But took the stance
   When Liberty was attacked.
   It Speaks of Duty, Faith; and Love;
   It speaks of a respect
   for Country; For Others,
   For the Right of Man;
   To forget would be neglect.
   On this Their Day

   We stop to pray
   Their Memory shall live;
   The sacrifice they made was Life.
   What more can someone Give?
Standing Guard

Submitted by Dominic Biello
Victor V. Keyes Sr.

193/D & 194th

We were contacted by Victor's son Mark Keyes, who provided the obituary below, from 1995. Mark also sent some photos taken by his father, which are also included below. 
Mark identified his father in this group photo of the 193rd Glider Infantry Regiment, Co D, taken in the US prior to deployment to the ETO.
Another photo from Victor Keyes collection

Milton R. Norris

513/ HQ2

MILTON R. NORRIS A memorial service will be held at 2:00 P.M. Sunday, June 2, at Old North Church for Milton R. Norris, 92, of Poland, who died Wednesday morning, May 22 at Hospice House. Mr. Norris was born April 2, 1921 in Cleveland, a son of Milton R. and Dorothy Moorehouse Norris. Milton graduated from Cleveland Heights High School. He was an honors graduate of Ohio University before serving his country in WWII as a paratroop officer. Milton saw service in the European Theater during the battles of the Ardennes and Rhineland with the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was wounded while leading a night patrol into enemy lines and later was awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Purple Heart. He had attained the rank of captain before his discharge. On returning to civilian life in Cleveland, Milt married his wife of 59 years, the former Gertrude Mosel, whom he married August 1, 1947, she died in 2006. Milton then earned his MBA Degree from Case Western Reserve University and became a Certified Public Accountant. Milton was the treasurer of a manufacturing company in Cleveland and later opened his own practice as a CPA. He served as a Senior Warden at St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. Milt belonged to the American Legion Post No.104 in Cleveland, the Cleveland Grays, the 82nd Airborne Division Association, and the Sons of the American Revolution. He was a grandson of Ohio State Senator, Thomas M. Norris. Following his retirement in 1989, he moved to Youngstown where he was a member of the Torch Club of Youngstown and the Libertarian Party. Milt liked to play tennis and had run in Ten K races. He leaves his daughter, Victoria J. Norris of Boardman; His son, Robert James (Barbara Webb) Norris of Potomac Falls, VA; his sister, Nancy Hahn of Lyndhurst, OH; his grandchildren, David Phillips Norris and Christina Hope Norris Hancock; and his great grandchildren; Sydney Elise Hancock, Braden Hancock, and Asher Hancock. Memorial contributions may be made to Old North Church, 7105 Herbert Rd., Canfield, Ohio 44406. Arrangements are entrusted to The Lane Family Funeral Homes, Canfield Chapel, (330) 533-3326. Family and friends may view this obituary and send condolences at
Samuel H. Oldfield


Life Member of the 17th Airborne Division Association

SAMUEL H. OLDFIELD, 90, of Medina, passed away Tuesday, December 24, 2013 in North Royalton, OH. He was born April 28, 1923 in Oswego, NY. Sam was a carpenter for the former Local 212 for over 50 years. He was proud to serve his country several times during WWII and Korea as a member of the US Army 17th Airborne Division, and recently became an honorary member of the 82nd Airborne Division. He also served in the Ohio National Guard and attended the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Patricia (Joyce), brothers in law Robert, Thomas (Elizabeth), Michael (Sandra), and James Joyce, and sisters in law Nora(Terry) Fairbanks & Rosemary( Dave) Losh. He is preceded in death by his parents Samuel and Grace (Shortsleeve) Oldfield and sister in law Carol and brother in law Martin. Family will receive friends on Monday, December 30, 2013, from 4-8 pm at the Waite and Son Funeral Homes, Brunswick Chapel, 3300 Center Road, Brunswick, OH 44212. Mass of Christian Burial will be on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 1088 Ridge Road, Hinckley, OH 44233 with Rev. Joe Mecir officiating. Burial with honors will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery in Brookpark, OH. Online condolences may be left at: - See more at:

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