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From The


JUNE 2008

    The dates for the annual reunion of the Family and Friends of The 508th PIR have been nailed down, presumably with tent pegs. Host ROCK MERRITT has fixed the event for October 14 through 18, 2008 in Fayetteville, NC. The members will convene in the Holiday Inn Bordeaux Motel, just a few miles outside Ft. Bragg where special events will take place in honor of all our 508th veterans. Check the association’s website at www.508pir.org for further details and a registration form.
 TAPS: EDWARD V. DUGAN, an original Cadre member, took his final jump in Blue Point, BY on January 22, 2006. Dugan was 87.
DAVID R. BURKMAN, 57, made his last jump on June 2, 2007. BURKMAN was from Canyon County, CA.
AMES P. McNALLY, OF Ione, WA, departed on October 6, 2007. James also had been in the 504th PIR at one time.
EDWARD J. WODOWSKI, 82, left us on March 2, 2008. He had lived in Fayetteville, NC for many years. A retired CSM, WOODY is survived by his wife of 58 years, NAN WODOWSKI; his children, NANNETTE PALMER of Tucson, AZ, EDWARD WODOWSKI of Fayetteville and CINDY MORRIS of Greensboro; and two grandchildren.
   WOODY was in a stick of Company A paratroopers on September 17, 1944. The entire stick left the aircraft near Wyler, Germany as it was beginning to burn and subsequently crashed. Remarkably, after narrowly escaping death in the aircraft, at least 12 of the men survived the war although four of them had to endure being in POW camps until war's end.
A signed statement made by 508ers CPL WALTER FIRESTINE and PVT EDWARD J WODOWSKI on 12 Dec 44 testified that the aircraft had been hit several times before reaching the DZ, both motors were afire, flames were coming through the floor. They last sighted the plane when it was over [Wyler] Germany.
PIERCE, they also stated, was the last man to jump, and after the platoon assembled on the ground Pierce made the statement that after he felt the opening shock of his parachute, he turned and saw the plane explode in mid-air. FIRESTINE and WODOWSKI said that "The equipment bundles were burning as they came down, and they exploded on the ground. We were unable to save any weapons."
FREDERICK L. RAPP of Cincinnati, OH made the final plunge on January 27, 2008. Nothing is known of his period of service.
GLORIA PIIPPO(widow of WALTER), age 81, of Chatham, Michigan died in her sleep at her home on March 10, 2008. She married Walter Piippo on August 28, 1946.and is survived by their children – WALTER (SUSAN) PIIPPO of Norwalk, CA, LISA (CHUCK) WOJCIECHOWSKI of Menomonee Falls, WI, and DAN PIIPPO of Traunik; as well as three grandchildren and three great-grandsons. GLORIA was preceded in death by her husband of fifty-five years who died on December 17, 2001.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE - The “Roll of Honor” as well as the “Final Jumps” sections of our website underwent massive updating recently to ensure that men of the post WW-II eras were better represented. Wherever possible, photos of gravesites or published obituaries, etc. were added as well. On March 28th we personally visited nine graves of 508th veterans, both new and old, in Arlington National Cemetery to photograph grave markers for the web site. They have all since been posted to the web site.
FOOLS’ PARADISE was the name of the play staged at the Mandalstam Dance Theatre in Miami, FL for three nights beginning March 14, 2008. The musical production was written by Jim Camacho. His inspiration for the play came from both a compelling photographic image and his own family history.
His father, Emanuel, jumped into Normandy on D-Day and died when Jim was 10. Emanuel’s story was never passed on to his son.
Camacho was moved by a photograph taken in June 1940 depicting Nazi troops marching down the Champs-Elysées. In front of a somber crowd, a man weeps at the horror. The photo moved Camacho to write the song “Tears on Parade”. Three weeks later, he had a basic script and all the music for Fools' Paradise. A play that he hopes will one day open on Broadway.


Dick O’Donnell
760 Conestee Drive

Melbourne, FL 32904
PH: (321) 759-6174
e-mail: Jumpmaster@508PIR.org

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