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 # 27 - January 2015
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

-   Scions 2015 Gathering Schedule

-    Scions to Invade Europe in 2015
    by Jeff Schumacher

-   "Airborne Assault East of the Rhine: March 24, 1945
     Big Jump Into Germany" Article from Collier's Magazine
     May 5, 1945

-   Scions Memorial Fund
     by Ed Siergiej Jr.

-   Welcome New Scion Members

-   Information on Membership and Dues

-   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
 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:

 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, granddaughter 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.

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


Scions of the 17th Airborne Receives
Tax Exempt Status

By Ed Siergiej Jr., Secretary / Treasurer
The Scions of the 17th Airborne has received 501c3 tax exempt status, as a public charity,  from the IRS.

Bequests, devises, transfers, or gifts to the Scions are now deductible under Section 170 of the IRS code. 

We have recently received a generous donation from:
John McCoy
Sarasota, Florida

Thank you John, for your generosity to the Scions
The Latest on the Miley Postage Stamp

by Ed Siergiej Jr.
Col. John Kormann has been working to get a postage stamp issued to honor General Miley as the father of the U.S. Paratrooper for some time. We encourage our membership to write to the Postmaster General in support for this stamp.
Scion 2015 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.


Lancaster Reunion 2015

Our annual Lancaster Reunion information will be announced in the coming editions of Thunder From Heaven, so keep checking back, and mark your calendars.  The tentative dates are May 3-8, 2015, but we'll have more information and confirmation of those dates for you shortly!  
Scions to Invade Europe in 2015!
March 18 - 29, 2015 

December 2014 Update:

Scions Trip 2015 

 Jeff Schumacher, who is coordinating this trip reports that the trip is full and that a waiting list has been developed, in case anyone has to cancel.
Jeff recently returned from Belgium where he reviewed the details for the trip. This event is creating a lot of excitement for those planning to attend. We will be sure to post lots of photos from participants when they return!


"Airborne Assault East of the Rhine: March 24, 1945
     Big Jump Into Germany" Article 
by Richard C. Hottelet

The following article was originally published in Collier's Magazine, on May 5, 1945.  It is a first-hand account of Operation Varsity, written by CBS journalist Richard C. Hottelet.  

MARCH 24, 1945
by Richard C.Hottelet
We got hit the first time as we swung over the drop zone. Out of the left waist window we were watching parachutes bubble out of a C-47. And then we heard the hammering straight down below us. You could tell by the sound that it was 20- or 37-mm., and at 700 feet, our B-17 was a fat, lazy bird. We should have known when the first shell knocked against our ship that we ought to get out of the area and stay
out. But we didn't, and that's how it happened.
We should not have been there in the first place. But the great airborne offensive across the northern Rhine on March 24th was probably one of the last big stories of the European war, and from a news as well as from a technical reporting angle, the Army wanted complete coverage. So the U.S. Troop Carrier Forces put aside a beautiful silver Flying Fortress, loaded it with their combat cameramen and observers, let me get on board with my sound-recording equipment and sent us out to cover the operation.
The plan was to take a small, but very important bite out of the German east bank of the Rhine. To the south, other armies were poised and ready to jump the river but, up in the north near the Dutch border, the British Second was held up by heavy opposition coming from around Wesel.
D-Day was set for March 24th, and two divisions, the British  Sixth Airborne and the U.S. Seventeenth Airborne, were to be flown low across the Rhine inland five miles to the high ground northwest of Wesel and dropped there. Simultaneously,  the engineers were to blanket 30 miles of the area with smoke, and General Miles C. Dempsey's British Second was to effect a Rhine crossing six hours before the air drops, push inland and join the paratroopers.
In effect, this was a better planned Arnhem job. You may remember that unsuccessful paratrooper landing in Holland last year. The job was carried out well, except that the paratroopers were so far ahead of the ground troops that the Germans in between held the ground troops back while cutting the airborne invaders to ribbons. This time, the chunk of land was to be much smaller and much more vital. Days before the operation, the four areas selected for landing of paratroopers and gliders were given a careful going over by tactical aircraft, which stitched up and down the roads around the areas and smashed the antiaircraft gun positions and spotted German reinforcement columns miles east of Wesel and left them wrecked and blazing.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Seventeenth Airborne, which had not had combat jump experience, practiced drops in northern France. It had only reached Europe in December. The British Sixth Airborne, a combat-wise group, was in England practicing drops.
On the 22nd, all paratroopers were brought to airports and placed in special stockades for security reasons. The next morning, pilots, navigators and radiomen were briefed before big maps marked "Top Secret." After dark, the jumpmasters were taken from the stockades and briefed. They were to jump low—700 feet. Forward speed was to be 105 miles per hour over the drop zones. The planes were to be emptied of 15 paratroopers in no more than eleven seconds.
At 8:30 a.m. on the 24th, a great parade of English planes and another great column of American planes met over Brussels, Belgium. There were five thousand ships in all, counting fighter escort, and they swung northeastward to the Rhine. As they crossed the river, the quiet paratroopers were holding up to the guide lines and could see great globs of black smoke arising from the drop zones. The heavy bombers were just finishing the softening up.
The weather was on our side. For eleven superb days the sun had crossed the sky, brilliant from the moment it rose to its last setting red. It helped the men patrolling the sky, and the bomber fleets that went out day after day and night after night. It helped the men on the ground by drying out the soilover which they would have to move; Along the sacred German River Rhine it was the enemy who prayed for clouds and rain and overcast to help him against our supremacy in the air and the massive weight of our superiority on the ground. But on this day of decision the good weather held.
To me the only worrying thing about the enterprise was the fact that I was not in the least worried. It's not superstition. It is just that after seven years of crisis and war, I have come to feel that things are most likely to go wrong when it seems inevitable that they will go completely well.
But this slight twinge disappeared after half an hour in the air. Because the sight of airfield after airfield in northern France loaded with planes and gliders taking off and ready to take off was too real a sign of strength to brook any doubt.
The sky above was pale blue. Below us, golden soil and bright green meadows were cut by long morning shadows. Flying at a few hundred feet, banking steeply to let the cameramen get their shots, we saw the solid phalanxes of olive-green troop carriers and tow planes and gliders nose to tail on the perimeter tracks of the ground bases. From one field to another we went until it got monotonous, until we sat down on our flak suits and parachutes in the waist and just watched the sky. I no longer even felt worried that I was not worried.
On my right was Colonel Joel O'Neal, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Carrier Forces, come to see the execution of what he had helped to plan. He chewed gum and looked at his map. Tech Sergeant Clarence Pearce and Staff Sergeant Fred Quandt sat silent, with their knees drawn up, and smoked. We all watched dark-bearded Sergeant George Rothlisberg, who sat and slept on the upended little khaki suitcase that carried his equipment. He just sat upright, with no support, and slept.
It was warm, despite the fact that we had taken the windows, out of the waist, and the wind was rushing through. Outside, the sun was climbing, and you had just about absorbed the roaring of the four great engines and the screaming of the slipstream into the open fuselage as a thoroughly acceptable part of a perfect day, when someone nudged you and pointed out of the side.
You got up and looked, and there they were—hundreds of C-47s flying along in tight formation. This was the realization of months of training and planning. It was an airborne dream come true. It was a mighty olive-green river that surged steadily and inevitably over Germany, and over the Germans crouched behind their last great defense line below. It was a mightier river than the German Rhine, and this day would prove it. From now on in, it was business, strict and cold. The troop carriers looked sleek and well fed, bobbing up and down in the air currents and propwash like fat men in a gentle surf. But inside them there were thousands of desperate young men, trained to a fine edge and armed to the teeth.
Slung under the green bellies of the planes were the bundles of explosives and ammunition and supplies for dropping to the paratroops. They nosed ahead inexorably, and behind them came other serials (large formations), and behind them
still others, until the procession disappeared in the thin March mist. Colonel O'Neal put his flak suit on over his parachute harness and strapped the steel flaps of his flak helmet down over his ears. We all did the same. The three photographers, their cameras clicking away, jostled one another at the waist windows as we swooped around the drop ships.
P-Hour, the. drop hour, for the paratroops, was 10 A.M. Just after 9:45 we passed our last check point. It was called the IP, or Initial Point, the same as a bombing run. Its code name was Yalta. All of a sudden the ground below us, which had been golden in the morning sunlight, turned gray. For a moment I thought that we had run into clouds. It seemed impossible. Then we caught a whiff. It was chemical smoke.
Below us and around us was a bank of misty smoke that ran for miles up and down the west bank of the Rhine, across the river and over the east bank. Here there was no sunlight; here in the center of green and fertile land was a clearly marked area of death. The smoke seemed a shroud. Outlines below us were indistinct. What had seemed warm now appeared ominously cold, and almost clammy. On our left was the first serial of paratroop pathfinders. We were flying at 700 feet. Below us there was no sign of life. We looked for troops going across, for the familiar invasion LCVPs and LCMs of our Rhine navy. We saw none. The river below us was a slate-gray ribbon winding through a dull gray land; on our left the troop carriers, pregnant dolphins in an eerie sea; and down to our right, straight into the sun, the dark mass of the city of Duisburg. From its broad, regular inland harbor the sun reflected panels of light into the battle area.
Over the roar of the engines and the screaming of air in the waist windows we heard a faint thumping. Colonel O'Neal grabbed me by the shoulder and pointed.. The intercom crackled and a dry voice said, "Flak at twelve o'clock and nine o'clock. But they're off the beam." Outside, coming up from Duisburg, were the shells from Nazi 88s. Black puffs of smoke feathered pretty far off to our right. All of a sudden I felt how tense I had become. There was no more flak for a moment and I began to relax.
And just at that moment we were over the first drop zone. It was 9:50, ten minutes early. On our left, paratroopers were tumbling out of the C-47s, their green camouflage chutes blending with the dark gray ground. The troop-carrier serial seemed like a snail, leaving a green trail as it moved along. And it was crawling indeed—about 115 miles an hour. Our big Fort seemed to me to be close to stalling speed.
We were watching the bright blue and red and yellow supply parachutes mix with the falling troopers, admiring the concentration of that first jump, when we first got it. I was surprised and pained. The ground, as far as we could see it through the smoke, was torn up as if a gigantic seed drill had passed over it, It was an insult that anyone should be left down there to shoot at us.
It sounded like a riveting machine, a heavy one. For a split-second I couldn't catch on. Then I smelled the explosive—a stench that always nauseates me. You get it in outward-bound bombers when the gunners clear their guns. But we had no gunners. Our turret guns were taped up and our waist guns had been unmounted. We were here to photograph and record, not to fight. There was a sharp rap on the ship somewhere. We had been hit.
The drop run was finished, so we swung up in a banking climb to our left while the first serial turned sharply right and headed out. I listened to the engines. They roared healthily on. The sound of the slipstream was the same, and the crackling of the aluminum skin.
I looked around the waist with new eyes. I noted the sheet of armor below each waist window and decided to stick close there. The men were busy with their cameras,their knees bent, and hunched slightly over to keep balance. I hung on to one of the innumerable pipes that run down the top of the fuselage, like a strap-hanger in a New York subway, swaying slightly as we banked and heeled. I looked
at Quandt. He looked back, and nodded his head with the corners of his mouth turned down. I knew exactly what he meant, so I did likewise. Colonel O'Neal's Irish face remained impassive.
We turned and circled for a minute or two, and then joined another serial going into its drop zone. On the ground we could see occasional gun flashes, but no sign of life apart from them. No flak was coming near, so again a gradual relaxation made me see how tense I had become in every muscle. We watched the serial, with its fifteen tight little-three-ship V formations, drop its load.
A hundred yards away from us, one of its ships, spawning parachutes from the rear, suddenly blossomed with yellow light up forward. It was not the reflection of the sun on the windshield. It was flame. And the ship turned off to the left in a steep glide. I remembered that two ships in the first serial had also slipped away, but with no apparent damage. Probably the pilots were hit by flak.
This bunch finished its work and turned for home. We turned off and joined a third formation, flying level with them at their speed and altitude. One of the photographers,crowded away from the window, was probably thinking along
identical lines with me. There were a couple of extra flak suits back with us, and he stretched the double aprons flat out on the wooden floor.
It suddenly seemed extremely silly to me that we should be there, because we were a huge bright silver B-17 flying along at almost stalling speed. We were probably the most conspicuous thing in the sky.
The Germans must have arrived at the same conclusion. We had been over the drop zone twenty or twenty-five minutes. We were turning again to pick up the first incoming serial of  C-46s. These ships, the Curtiss Commandos, carried more paratroopers and jumped them out of two doors at once. They were used in this operation for the first time.
We were banking to head back to the Rhine and pick them up. Hanging from my pipe, I could look almost straight down through the waist window through tattered smoke at the ground. By now, there were several blobs of drop zones where the colored parachutes reminded you of a Mardi Gras sidewalk strewn with confetti.
And then we really hit trouble. It may have been the same gun. I did not see it. Radio Operator Roy Snow watched the tracers come up from the ground and lifted his feet to let the shells pass under him. In the waist we heard the riveter again.
A short burst, then a longer one. The heavy steel-scaled flak suit and the heavy flak helmet, which had been weighing me down, now felt light and comforting. Then we got hit in a ripple. The ship shuddered, I grabbed my pipe. And then, as if it had been rehearsed, all five of us in the waist stepped onto the flak suits, spread on the flooring.
Over the intercom, Snow was telling our pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Benton Baldwin, that the left wing had been hit, and that fire was breaking out between the engines. The flak stopped. Baldwin was gaining altitude in a climbing turn.
Smoke began to pour down through the plane, and in the left waist window. A tongue of flame licked back as far as the window, and the silver inner skin of the ship reflected its orange glow. The crew chief told Lieutenant Albert Richey that
gasoline was sloshing around in the bomb bay.
Sitting in a plane that is being peppered by flak and being able to do nothing at all about it is a miserable feeling. But even that is nothing to the sensation of sitting in a burning plane. Baldwin used both extinguisher charges in a vain attempt to put out the fire. There was nothing to do but bail out.
This Fortress carried two thousand gallons of aviation fuel, which can almost ignite in a hot wind. One engine was burning; the one next to it was catching fire. The ship was still under control. But there was no telling for how long.
As we staggered out, we watched the C-46s come in and apparently walk into a wall of flak. I could not see the flak, but one plane after another went down. All our attention was concentrated on our own ship. It could blow up in mid-air any moment. We moved close to the windows. From the pilot's compartment came streams of stinging smoke. The intercom went out. .  
Up in the cockpit. Colonel Baldwin was keeping the ship under control, watching the fire eat a larger and larger hole in the left wing like a smoldering cigarette in a tablecloth. Looking down on the wing from above, he could not see a large
fire. The flame was mainly below the wing.
Suddenly we went into a sharp, dip. Back aft we did not know what was happening. All we had was the smoke and the deafening noise, and the tiny fragments of molten metal which the wing was throwing back and which twinkled in the sun as they raced past the waist window.
We pulled off our flak suits, and helmets. I reached down and buckled on my chest chute. It was obvious we would have to jump. But down below was still the cold, gray smoky country east of the Rhine. Impossible to tell what was happening down there, If it was not in enemy hands, it was a battlefield.
As we went into the dip, I thought the pilots had been hit, and I put my hands on the edge of the window to vault out. But the colonel brought her back under control, and we hung on. There was no movement among the men in the waist. We stood and waited—for flak, or more flames or explosion or for the Rhine, to slide by below. There was nothing else to do.
After what seemed hours, the Rhine was below us at last. The left wing was blazing, but three motors were still running. We were hardly across the river when Roy Snow came back and told us that the pilot wanted us to jump. That and the Rhine River were all we had been waiting for.
Colonel O'Neal went back and began to struggle with the handle that jettisons the rear door. I jogged my chest pack, up and down, made sure it was secure. The other men did the same. Colonel O'Neal was still wrestling with the door. I went back to help.
There was no panic. But if this telling sounds cool and collected, the actuality was not so. Uppermost in everyone's mind was just physically getting out of that ship. We were still flying at less than a thousand feet, which left not much time. I  abandoned, with hardly a thought, my recording equipment and typewriter and notes and jacket in the radio compartment. Of the cameramen, only Quandt thought to take the film out of his camera. There was no point in trying to jump with anything in your hand because the opening of the chute will make you drop anything that is not tied to you.
The colonel got the door open and crouched in it for a moment. I shouted, "Okay, Colonel, get going." He didn't hear, but tumbled out. I got into the doorway.
All my life, one of the sensations I have disliked most has been the feeling of falling. As a boy I avoided the big slides in the amusement parks at Coney Island. Even now, working at the front, when I go up in a Cub or observation L-5, I always hope fervently that the pilot will not do those steep banking dives they like so much. The sinking feeling in my stomach when I fall is sickening.
Standing in the doorway of the burning Fortress, I somehow hardly thought of that. Down below, the ground was green and golden and friendly again. We had left the smoke zone, the sun was bright and the air was warm. Everything seemed friendly. It was the most natural thing in the world to want to leave the doomed plane and, anyway, behind me were three men waiting to jump, too. So I simply let myself tumble forward on my face. As I left the ship, the slipstream caught me, and it was like a big friendly hand that I could dig my shoulder into. The black rubber de-icer on the stabilizer was above me. And then all was confusion.
We were jumping at about six hundred feet, so I pulled the rip cord almost immediately. I pulled it so hard I almost jerked my shoulder out. There was more confusion. I felt as if I had come to a dead stop. The harness straps were digging into my flesh. My main thought was to save the ring, and I put it in my pocket. My next thought was gentle surprise that I should have been successful in parachuting the first time I tried.
For a moment there was relaxation, and enjoyment of the wonderful quiet that the departing Fort had left me in. Up above my head, the chute was glistening white, billowing like a sail full of wind. I began to sway, so I turned my attention to the ground.  
I tried to remember everything I had read about parachuting—like pulling the shrouds to stop swaying: But I was afraid to try anything that might spill the chute. So I concentrated on worrying about where I was going to fall. Below me were a farmhouse, some open fields, a clump of trees and a pond. Men were running in my direction from one side of the house. Away in the next field Colonel O'Neal, who had also been swaying, had just come down.
I landed in a pasture. Trying to gauge my height to brace myself for the fall, I kept opening and closing my eyes, but was barely able to keep pace. I remembered to flex my knees.
The next-second I hit with a grunt. I snapped off the parachute and got to my feet. To my surprise I stayed there, getting my wind back. It was the British Second Army area, and—true to the old Battle of Britain tradition—the parachuting visitor was
promptly filled with tea and whisky.
I reached in my pocket for the ring. It is parachuting tradition to keep the ring to prove you have been in command of the situation at all times. The ring was not there. I had obviously been out of control.
Word came that the colonel was all right, but that Pearce, who jumped right after me, had been killed when his chute streamed like an exclamation mark instead of opening. Our pilot pulled his rip cord in the cockpit by accident while putting his chute on after we had all got out. So he rode the Fort into a crash landing and came out safe.
All around us, as we stood on this approach route for the airborne forces, burning and disabled C-47s crashed into the fields. In every case the pilot stayed with his ship until his crew and passengers were out before bailing out himself. In some cases he stayed too long. It was a thrilling demonstration of the highest kind of courage to see a burning troop carrier come gliding in, to see two or three or four chutes blossom out under it, a pause as the ship turned away, andthen another lone chute as the pilot got out. We stood looking up and cheered.
After a while, I noticed that my eye was hurting, and found that the chest chute had given me the start of a beautiful shiner as it was ripped up past my face. On hitching my way back to Paris next day, I found a telegram from my boss in London saying: "Better a purple eye than a Purple Heart."
By that time, there was good news from the front. Some 6,400 Nazis had been taken prisoner in the drop zones; the whole operation was a great success, and the British Second Army was slashing across the top of Germany—east of the Rhine.
Collier's, May 5,1945"

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

Welcome New Members

Clayton Steffensen
Nephew of Lawrence V. "Bud" Clayton (194th GIR)
Van Nuys, CA

William Danso
Grandson of William Danso (681st/B Battery) 
Cortland, OH 
Gregg Hansen
Son of Charles T. Hansen (517/SG)
Pensacola, FL 

Information on Membership and Dues


  "Regular Membership" in the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division is open to any family member or descendant of any veteran of the 17th Airborne Division. 
 "Associate Membership" is available for those who are not related to a 17th veteran but have an interest in our missions., to honor the men of the 17th and to keep their history alive. 
 All veterans of the 17th Airborne Division are considered to be "Distinguished Honorary Members" of the Scions.

 Regular and Associate Membership dues are $20/year. We strive to keep the dues low, to encourage membership, and renewals. We send an email reminder to each member on the anniversary of their initial membership. Funds generated from dues are our main source of revenue to operate the organization. If you have any question about your dues status, please send us an email to Likewise, any questions about membership, please contact us at the email address above as well.

 With your support, we can continue to fulfill and expand our missions to honor the men of the 17th and to keep their history alive.

Ed Siergiej Jr
Scions of the 17th Airborne, Inc.


Chaplains Corner
by Isaac Epps

 The Airborne Soldier's Creed
 I am an American Soldier.
 I am a Trooper in the 17th Airborne Division of the United States Army--a protector of the greatest nation on earth.
 As a soldier, I uphold the principles of Freedom for which my country stands.
 As a Trooper, I am a superior soldier--in physical fitness, combat readiness, military bearing, courtesy, character and self discipline. 
 My actions always reflect my pride in my country, my flag, and my uniform.
 I trust in my God and in the United States of America.
 I am an American Soldier.
  May God Bless all of our Veterans.
  May God's Healing Hand be on those families who have lost a Veteran or a Trooper from day one to now, no matter the circumstances.
  May we all continue to find ways and priorities that will continue to honor their service and sacrifices; both personally and through our Scions group.
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
Vacant position

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"

This motion was tabled until our next meeting, in Lancaster, PA, in May 2015

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

This motion was approved 
at our meeting in Arlington, VA on November 10, 2014

Jeff Schumacher was elected to fill the vacant position on the Board of Directors.

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. 



Have a request to make for information, or for research help?  Send us an email and we will post it in a future edition of the Thunder From Heaven newsletter, in this section!
My name is Vicki Mittleman Gambino.  I am the daughter of Vic Mittleman.  I thought you would be interested to know that two of his grandsons have carried on the airborne tradition.  His grandsons, Matthew Gambino and Joseph Gambino are both captains in the U.S. Army.  Both are airborne qualified and have served with airborne units.  Matthew was a member of the 2nd of the 503rd and made a combat jump into Iraq in 2003.  Joseph was a member of the 1st of the 501st where he was in Alaska and did training with Australian airborne troops.  That airborne thing must be in their blood.
Vicki Mittleman Gambino
From Gregory De Cock,

Dear participants to the "Dead Man's Ridge Walk",
We have the honor to announce that the 7th edition of the DMRW will take place on Sunday March 22, 2015 at the village of Houmont, Belgium.
At the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, several families of veterans, and some veterans of the 17th Airborne will be attending the event.
Two remembrance ceremonies will have place along the trail.
A memorial dedicated to the 17th Airborne will be unveiled on Saturday March 21, 2015 at 4.00PM, at the main square of Houmont taht will officialy be named "Square of the 194th Glider Infantry Regiment".
We are waiting for you at the occasion of this very special event.
Kind regards.
From Herman Wolters


I adopted the grave of paratrooper Harry Green at the American Military Cemetery at Margraten. Harry Green served in the 17th AB/513th PIR and took part in Operation Varsity. On the way to Munster, Harry died of wounds on the 3rd of April by capturing the small german town named, Buldern.
Does anyone have some information about Harry Green or information about the capturing of Buldern?


Sick Call

Mike Rock (680B) has just returned home after a long time in the hospital, and is recovering steadily, with the able help of his family and especially his daughter Diane.

Mike could use our support now, and he appreciates hearing from the 17th Family.
 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
William Maczko
411th Airborne Quartermaster Co

William (Bill) A. Maczko, Sr. age 92 of Brownsville, PA died on Saturday, January 3, 2015.
He was born on March 1, 1922 in Braznell, PA to the late George and Mary Fencik Maczko.
Veteran of WWII
Member of the American Legion Post 295
Brownsville Eagles
Rowes Run Athletic Club
He was predeceased by his wife Lillian Polette Maczko
Son: John (Jack) Maczko
Brothers: George, John, Mike, Joe and Tommy
Sisters: Mary Maczko, Elizabeth Lecorchick and 
Helen Fernandez
He is survived by Son: William A. (Bill) Maczko, Jr. and wife Leslie - Smock, PA
Daughter: Darlene Hickle - Brownsville, PA
Grandchildren: John Maczko and Fiancée Sherry - Uniontown, PA
Shannon Spade and husband Ken - Grindstone, PA
Stacy Tanner and husband Robert - Chesterfield, VA
William Maczko, III and wife Jenny - Aberdeen, NC
Great Grandchildren: Frank and Rebecca Tanner
Drew and Clara Maczko
Friends will be received in the Skirpan Funeral Home 135 Park St. Brownsville, PA on Tuesday from 2 - 4 and 6 - 8PM. Where a panachida service will be held on Wednesday at 9:30AM followed by Divine Liturgy at 10:00AM in St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, Brownsville, PA with the Rev. Fr. Jerome Botsko as celebrant. Interment Lafayette Memorial Park with full military rites accorded by American Legion Post 295, 940, 838 and 275. A Parastas Service will be held on Tuesday at 7:00PM.

Alfred M. Simon

Alfred M. Simon, 94, of Austin, died Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, at his home.

Al was born on Aug. 4, 1920, in Stacyville, Iowa, to Jacob and Anna (Heaman) Simon. He graduated from Visitation High School in 1938.

Al married Ruth C. Vanderbilt on July 16, 1941. Ruth died on June 3, 1972. Al married Donna L. (Hallman) Hareid on Jan. 27, 1973. Donna died on March 9, 2001.

Al worked at Geo. A. Hormel and Co. for 39 years.

Al was a member of the Civil Conservation Corps. He was a Combat Wounded WWII Veteran as a member of the 17th Airborne Glider Division and received a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a lifetime member of the VFW, American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans.

Al enjoyed fishing, playing poker, watching the Minnesota Twins and unfortunately, the Green Bay Packers. He loved to travel. Al spent his summers fishing on Mille Lacs Lake and winters with his “Texas family” in Brownsville, Texas. Al went fishing every spring and fall with his family and friends in Canada. Al especially loved spending time with his great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his children: Br. Robert O.C.S.O., Dubuque, Iowa, Donald, Woodbury, Barbara (Roland) Schumacher, Austin, Jean Kurata, Plymouth, David (Sheryl), Rochester, Alfred Jr. (Debra), Hastings, Kurt, Rochester; stepchildren: Karen Stoltz, Austin, Ronald Hareid, Rochester; extended family, Le Wain (Paulette) Lewis, Austin. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Jon Simon, Michelle (Scott) Slinde, Randy Schumacher, Wendy (Chad) Pedersen, Alissa (John) Zimmerman, Matthew Simon, Lindsey Simon, Derek (Tobi) Simon, Kristin (Jayme) Brochman, Allison Simon, Sierra Simon, Saige Simon, Kenneth (Corinne) Stoltz, Keith Stoltz; sixteen great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his sister, Margaret Anderson, Cedar Falls, Iowa; sister-in-law, Virginia Wilson, Austin; brothers-in-law: Thomas Miller, Waterloo, Iowa, Kermit Vanderbilt, Langley, Washington.

He is preceded in death by his wives: Ruth and Donna; parents Jacob and Anna; brothers: Ralph, and Martin; sisters: Angeline Simon, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marceline Miller; several brothers in-law, and sisters-in-law.

A funeral mass will be celebrated 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014, at St. Augustine Catholic Church with Father Traufler and Father Mark Scott O.C.S.O. officiating. Friends may call one hour before the service at the church on Saturday. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery with military rites by American Legion Post No. 91, VFW Post No. 1216, and DAV Chapter 27. Memorials are preferred. Condolences may be left online at

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
17th Airborne Car Flags

These high quality car flags are double sided, 12" x 18", and feature a heavy duty window mount. A great way to show your pride in the 17th Airborne Division

$25 each, includes S&H in the U.S.A.

Scions of the 17th Airborne Pins

This pin was designed by our founding veteran, Col. John Kormann. The pin is 3/4" in Diameter, with the Scion Logo

$10 each, includes S&H in the U.S.A.

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

"Thunderbolt" Commemorative Book

  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:

Our brand-new website contains a wealth of information on the 17th Airborne and its history, and our Members Section (open exclusively to dues-paying Scions) contains hundreds of pages of documents obtained from the National Archives!  Check it out 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).

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)
Board of Directors

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)
Scion Facebook Page
Scion Facebook Page
Scions Website
Scions Website
Copyright © *|2013|* *|Scions of the 17th Airborne, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Scions of the 17th Airborne
62A Forty Acre Mt. Rd
Danbury, CT 06811
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