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From The


Dear 508 Veterans,
            Family Members,
                         or Friends of the 508th

World War II Airborne Demonstration Team

During my recent trip to Normandy for the festivities surrounding the 60th anniversary of D-Day, I had the good fortune to get to better know members of the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team--an international group of men and women who have banded together to "remember--honor--serve" members of the World War II Airborne.

Quoting from the statement of purpose posted on the team's website:

"The WWII Airborne Demonstration Team Foundation was formed to honor and serve the memory of those men who fought and died to preserve America's freedom during WWII as members of Airborne units of the United States Army. The activities of the Foundation also recognize and honor those who served and survived that conflict.

"The foundation serves that honorable purpose through the participation of its members in active parachute jumping in the style of the WWII airborne soldier utilizing an aircraft that actually participated in the Normandy invasion of France in June, 1944. These activities serve to further the memory of their unbending loyalty to the cause of freedom.

"Further, it is the goal of the Foundation to foster, promote and engage in research of WWII airborne operations and military history and to inform and educate the public through airborne operations demonstrations throughout the United States."

As mentioned above, the Team has a vintage C-47 that participated in the jumps on D-Day and in Holland during Operation Market-Garden back in ‘44, and it is a beaut of an airplane. It is painted just as it was during World War II, and other than some modernization of the flight deck, it has been restored to the exact condition it was when it was used in the aforementioned jumps.

Fortunately for me, the team's C-47 ("Boogie Baby") is based just 45 miles north of where I live, and I have had the opportunity to photograph it and witness various practice jumps.

It's one thing to watch Hollywood movies of paratroopers jumping from aircraft and another experience entirely to see men in WWII uniforms jump from a fully restored C-47 (in person)! There's also the wonderful experience of just listening to a C-47's radial engines fire up, as they belch copious volumes of blue smoke. No modern aircraft I know can match the sound of those engines.

If one is near Lawton, Oklahoma, be sure to stop by the municipal airport and take a gander at “Boogie Baby,” and if you are interested in learning more about the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team, take a look at their website at “wwiiadt.com.”


Bill Vessels of Service Company died suddenly during the summer. He was a loyal 508er and faithfully attended 508 reunions, and he will be greatly missed.


Bill C. Nation
Email: bnation@sw.rr.com


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