Men of D-Day


    
 Troop Carrier
Michael N. Ingrisano
Robert E. Callahan
Benjamin F. Kendig
John R. Devitt
Arthur W. Hooper
Ward Smith
Julian A. Rice
Charles E. Skidmore
Sherfey T. Randolph
Louis R. Emerson Jr.
Leonard L. Baer
Robert D. Dopita
Harvey Cohen
Zane H. Graves
John J. Prince
Henry C. Hobbs
John C. Hanscom
Charles S. Cartwright
 
 82nd Airborne
Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr.
Marie-T Lavieille
Denise Lecourtois
Howard Huebner
Malcolm D. Brannen
Thomas W. Porcella
Ray T. Burchell
Robert C. Moss
Richard R. Hill
Edward W. Shimko
 
 101st Airborne
John Nasea, Jr
David 'Buck' Rogers
Marie madeleine Poisson
Roger Lecheminant
Dale Q. Gregory
George E. Willey
Raymond Geddes
 
 Utah Beach
Joseph S. Jones
Jim McKee
Eugene D. Shales
Milton Staley
 
 Omaha Beach
Melvin B. Farrell
James R. Argo
Carl E. Bombardier
Robert M. Leach
Joseph Alexander
James Branch
John Hooper
Anthony Leone
George A. Davison
James H. Jordan
Albert J. Berard
Jewel M. Vidito
H. Smith Shumway
Louis Occelli
John H. Kellers
Harley A. Reynolds
John C. Raaen
Wesley Ross
Richard J. Ford
William C. Smith
Ralph E. Gallant
James W. Gabaree
James W. Tucker
Robert Watson
Robert R. Chapman
Robert H. Searl
Leslie Dobinson
William H. Johnson
 
 Gold Beach
George F. Weightman
Norman W. Cohen
Walter Uden
 
 Juno Beach
Leonard Smith
 
 Sword Beach
Brian Guy
 
 6th Airborne
Roger Charbonneau
Frederick Glover
Jacques Courcy
Arlette Lechevalier
Charles S. Pearson
 
 U.S.A.A.F
Harvey Jacobs
William O. Gifford
 
Civils
Philippe Bauduin
Albert Lefevre
René Etrillard
Suzanne Lesueur
 

 

Louis R. Emerson, Jr.
1st Lieutenant - Pilot - 83rd Troop Carrier Squadron - 437th Troop Carrier Group.

On June 1, a strange thing began. The ground crews started painting wide black and white stripes called invasion stripes on the wings and fuselage of the airplanes and the gliders.

On June 2, aircrews and glider pilots were assembled in the briefing room, and we discovered that D-DAY was about to happen. We learned that we would be towing a British Horsa glider, that we would take off near midnight and head for Normandy for a night glider landing near the town of St. Mere Eglise, and that there would be a small lighted cross on the fields designated for glider landings. The lights would be placed there by paratrooper pathfinder groups flying about an hour ahead of the main flight.
We learned that any aircraft not having the black and white "invasion" stripes would be immediately attacked and shot down by our fighters or anti-aircraft guns.

Our mission briefing started about 16:00 hours and lasted about an hour. First was the navigation briefing. We were supposed to navigate as intently as though we were alone, because there was always the possibility that we would be separated from our leader.. Next came the weather briefing which was forecast to be clear at the drop zone with a full moon Then there was the A-2 or intelligence briefing. We were told that the Germans did not know where our drop zone would be, and they did not know the exacf date of the invasion, but they did know that we were coming. We were also totd what to do if we were shot down and captured: Do not tell the Germans anything but name, rank, and serial number. Finally, there was a pep talk by the Commanding Officer, Col. Donald French, who would be leading the Group in person He flew about every other combat mission. Col. Luke Powell, the Executive Officer, flew the others. The lead ship carried a navigator, but none of the rest of us did.
Each Troop Carrier Group would launch a maximum effort of 72 airplanes towing 72 gliders in a column of 18 elements of four airplanes with gliders in a right echelon formation. In order to get 72 airplanes towing gliders into the air in a reasonable amount of time, they had to be pre-assembled in the proper place and sequence on the runway, packed as tightly as possible, and with towropes attached and coiled so that there would be no tangle. As soon as the glider ahead of us began to move, we were to count off five seconds, take up the slack in the towrope, go to full power, and take off.
The headquarters squadron leading the formation was responsible for getting us to the Troop Carrier Group assembly point exactly on time. That also worked amazingly well. At the assembly point, we turned off our navigation lights and turned on the formation lights at low intensity. These were hooded dim blue lights set three on each wing, could not be seen from above, and could be seen from behind at no more than a 60 degree angle from the side. This was to prevent any possible sighting by German fighters.
We could have no personal papers with us, but we were issued 100 francs of French "invasion" money... Nothing like the official French franc. We were required to wear our dog tags, and we were reminded that if shot down and captured, we should reveal only our name, rank, and serial number. Nothing else. We could and did wear a shoulder holster with our Colt 45 automatics in it, at least until we got into the airplane. It could not be worn under the flack vest.
Because it was fundamentally a civilian airplane, there was no escape hatch in the C-47 for the flight crew. There was no room in the seat for a parachute. We each had a parachute harness that had been custom tailored for a tight fit. If the leg straps were loose, major damage to our manhood would result when the chute opened. We wore the harness under the flack vest. The harness had large metal rings fastened to the harness shoulder straps in front and up near the shoulder. The canvas bag holding our parachute canopy was to be clipped into these harness rings. The canopy was hanging from a hook in the passenger cabin on the bulkhead between the crew compartment and the passenger cabin. To bail out, we had to get out of the cockpit seat, get to the back of the flight deck, remove the parachute from a wall rack, clip it on to our chute harness, and run 65 feet back through the fuselage to the only exit door. We were to do all this with the airplane out of control and throwing us all over the cabin as we tried to get back to the door. The good news was that we flew with the door removed. The bad news was that this did not help. GOOD LUCK! The crew chief and radio operator might make it, but the pilots had no real chance. There is no record of any pilots able to bail out and only a few crew chiefs or radio operators made it.

Military aircraft had self-sealing fuel tanks... That is there was a sticky coating on the inside of the tank that would fill up a flack hole if not too large, and stop the leaking of fuel. Since this was a civilian aircraft, we had just plain old fuel tanks...not self-sealing. If hit in a fuel tank, there was about a 9:1 chance that we would bum.
Military aircraft had armor plating around the crew seats to deflect flack. We had nothing. My crew chief did scrounge some armor from a crashed B-24 and welded it under my seat and the copilot seat. There was a Very flare pistol in a bracket in the cockpit. Under the pilot's seat were stored about a dozen Very pistol flares for signaling purposes. The end of the pistol barrel was exposed to the outside. The cartridge was about like a shotgun cartridge except about twice as big, and the flares it fired were similar to Roman candle flares
We wore flack vests, steel helmets over our cloth helmets, and goggles. The flack vest was a vest made of overlapping steel strips to give it flexibility, and there was an apron over the genital area. The regular aviator goggles were to be pulled over the eyes when enemy action was encountered to protect them against flash fire.
On the night of June 4, every one was in place in the aircraft and on the ground ready to start engines when the signal came that the invasion had been postponed. A let down but not a relief.

Things were quiet in quarters. I spent some of the time writing a letter to Marilyn to be posted if I were killed. I also wrote a letter to Dick (my as-yet-unbom son) for the same reason. I also wrote one to my parents. All of these were gathered and picked up by headquarters for safekeeping. (We wrote similar letters before each combat series) I then started dressing. First, underclothes of course, then flying coveralls, and make sure dog tags are around the neck. Invasion money in pockets. Pencils... watches... my good 21 jewel Hamilton and the GI Hack Watch... one on each wrist. 45-caliber Colt automatic and shoulder holster... What else? I looked down into my footlocker and saw a GI magnetic pocket compass, picked it up, and put it into one of the zippered pockets in my flying coveralls. Then combat boots. They were high top shoes, rough out, with buckle closed leggings attached and about 8" high. They were not GI, but they were for sale in the PX, and almost every one wore them while flying.
After all was done, checked, and rechecked, I lay down on my bed and tried to doze. Not a chance. I began imaging the mission. What was flack really like? What to do if hit. What to do if the glider is hit. What to do if I'm hit. Am I frightened? (I still don’t know). Like every one else, I was sure nothing was going to happen to me, yet????

D-Day !
Finally, the announcement came of the PA speaker in the hut to report to squadron operations (about a mile away). There was a 6x6 truck waiting in the area, we climbed in, and we were taken to the squadron (83rd) ready room. Capt. John White (squadron Commanding Officer) was waiting there. He checked everybody and everything, then we were back into the trucks and out to the airplanes and gliders which had been marshaled on the runway for about 4 days.
We waited. Waiting is the tough time. Suddenly you realize that you have not been tested. You don’t know how you will react. I did not exactly feel fear, but I did have a strong sense of apprehension. Waiting in the airplane, I realized that the die was cast and that I would shortly be facing death for the first time in my life. I did not know how I would react. I kept wanting the signal to start engines to be given. The longer the wait the greater the anxiety.
Suddenly, there was a flare shot from a jeep beside the runway. Finally, this was the signal to start engines. I worried that the engines would not start. I looked at the left engine and saw Kreutter beside it with a fire extinguisher. I shouted, "Clear left”, spun up the inertia starter and engaged the starting clutch. The engine caught immediately. Kreutter moved to the right engine and we repeated the sequence. It started. Kreutter then removed the landing gear pins which prevented the landing gear from being retracted accidentally and climbed into the airplane. We were flying with the back half of the cargo door removed so that after the invasion, we could start flying combat cargo. One by one, the aircraft came to life. Each pilot reported “ready”.
At exactly 23:00 hours, there was another flare and the lead ship started moving. In tum, each C-47 taxied at a moderate pace until the tow rope was tight...then full throttle and a little prayer that we would get airbome OK, because that available runway was awful short. We broke ground, sucked up the gear, and started our climbing tum to cut across the circle and catch up with the Group which was circling the airport over the light ring. By tuming left, our wingmen could catch up. It was a slow go, and it took nearly an hour to get everybody off the ground and into formation. Even at 100% of power, there was not more than about 95 mph available to climb and catch the group. After joining the formation, we could reduce power from 52” manifold pressure and 2, 700 propeller RPM to 45” and 2,500 (about 90% power) which would give us the necessary 100-mph in level flight to maintain formation. We then headed for the assembly point Our course was around the north end of the Normandy peninsula to the southwest coast, over the islands of Jersey and Guemsey to just northeast of St. Mere Eglise to the LZ's. Unless it was grounded for maintenance, each pilot flew the same airplane he flew across from the US for all flights. This particular night, my regular airplane, tail number 576, was grounded for maintenance, and I was flying a spare. This airplane had been equipped with an experimental radar receiver called Rebecca Eureka. It was a very primitive instrument by today's standards, but almost magical to us. It was a black rectangular box about 8 inches square by 15 inches long. There was a 3-inch scope in the end. When tumed on, there was a vertical trace across a calibrated vertical reticule. If a radar signal was being received, and if we were on course toward the source, there was a cross blip with equal arms on each side of the reticule which showed the distance to the ground transmitter. If the blip was unequal on the sides, a tum toward the short side was required to get on course. It was calibrated in one-mile segments... A total of 10 miles. We were told that there would be a radar transmitter on the LZ.
As soon as I saw the glider ahead of me begin to move, I added power quickly to take up the 300 feet of slack in the 2" diameter hemp towrope which was attached to a bridle fastened to the wings of the Horsa. As soon as I felt the tug of the glider, I pushed the throttles to full open. We accelerated slowly until I felt the glider lift. Then the acceleration was much quicker. I lifted off and raised the landing gear almost the instant we were airbome so that we would accelerate more quickly, and we were on our way.
A lot of skill was required to be a good glider pilot. For this mission, I towed a British Horsa that was actually larger than the C-47. Its wingspan was 98 feet as compared with 95 feet for the C-47. It carried almost twice as many troops as the CG-4A... 26. Poorly flown by an unskilled pilot, the Horsa could cause enough drag to keep the C-47 from taking off, or if flown improperiy could drag it into the ground.

Our formation assembled without incident and we headed out over the English Channel. We knew there were thousands of boats under us heading to the same place. Our cruising altitude was 1500 feet and our airspeed was 100 mph. Everything was going smoothly until I noticed that there was a cloud deck building under us. This could be a real problem if it was over Normandy. We were to pass directly over the islands of Jersey and Guernsey on a compass heading of 69 degrees, let down to 500 feet to the LZ just past St. Mere Eglise.
When we tumed to cross over Jersey and Guernsey, we saw they were almost completely obscured by the low cloud deck. We were in our proper position, following closely behind and slightly above the flight ahead. Without waming, the flight in front of us dimmed their formation lights, and as we dropped into the clouds, I lost sight of them completely. My wingmen were tucked in tightly as they should be and I turned my formation lights to bright so they could keep me in sight. At that moment, as far as I know, I was leading the rest of the invasion airbome assault!
My crew had the little radar box tumed on but we were too far away to get a signal. We continued the letdown, staying exactly on 69 degrees, and broke into the clear at about 800 feet, but because of the cloud cover, there was no significant moonlight. After a few more minutes, my crew chief shouted that he had a signal on the radar and that the LZ was dead ahead eight miles. We were right on course, more by good luck than by good planning.
As we dropped below the bottom of the overcast, suddenly, the sky lighted up around us with tracer bullets. The anti aircraft guns had found us. I shall never forget that sight. Tracers would blossom in front of us in a lazy stream like a Roman candle, then would suddenly tum directly toward us and disappear. When the radar said we were over the landing zone, we spotted the Halogen signal light marking the LZ. We signaled our glider and he cut off. The other three gliders in my flight “C” followed. He made a safe crash landing (normal in combat), as did the other three in the proper field. Neither the glider pilots nor any of the airbome were injured in my flight.
We dropped our towrope, pushed the nose down and the throttles to 50 inches of manifold pressure and headed home. We were not required to maintain formation but we were to just get home as quickly as we could any way possible. I got so close to the ground at 300 mph, we neany hit some rocks on the coast as we passed over it. We had two flack holes, both in the rear of the fuselage, and both large enough to have been made by 20 mm cannon shells that did not explode!

D-Day : Shot down on the second mission
At 1:00 PM, the aftemoon of June 6, I was awakened by someone vigorously shaking me by the shoulder. I Ieamed I was to fly another mission with a 4:00 PM take off. This time I was to pull a CG-4A, the American Waco glider. It would be flown by my friend and best man at my wedding, Flight Officer Glen McFarren of The Dells, Oregon. It seems that some of the paratroopers and glider infantry had gotten in trouble and wanted some artillery. There were to be 28 gliders on this mission flying the usual 4-ship echelon to the right, totaling 7 rows. Our LZ was north and east of St. Mere Eglise in the same general area as the moming mission. I wondered where they found a field with enough room. All open space was probably already filled with gliders.
This time it was daylight and I could see the water. There were so many boats in the channel that it seemed as though one could walk across it and not get a wet foot. I leamed later that there were more than 5000 boats involved in the Normandy landing.
This time our course was to fly straight across Utah Beach to the landing zone, only about 10 or 12 miles inland. About 3 miles before landfall (the beach), German 88 mm anti aircraft fire from coastal installations began exploding near us. A near miss hit us with shrapnel and ignited a fire in our right engine. It quit developing power immediately. We did all the single engine things including activating the fire extinguisher on that engine, but to no avail because it continued to bum merrily. There were plastic windows along the right side of the fuselage, and they began to melt from the heat of the buming engine. We were unable to feather the propeller (turn the blades so that they did not rotate in the slipstream and create a great amount of drag.)
With the propeller not feathered, we were able to almost maintain our altitude and 100 mph with full power on the good engine.
There were two pilots in my glider, two airbome artillery soldiers, and a 105 mm howitzer artillery piece. I knew if we cut the glider loose, it would land in the water, and sink like a rock. The people in it would not be able to save themselves. I made a quick management decision and decided that we could make it to the LZ and still have about 300 feet altitude. This would give our glider a reasonable chance for a successful crash and survive, and with a little luck we could get back to the coast, ditch beside a ship, and if I did a good ditching job, we might not even get our feet wet. That is what we tried.

We successfully got the glider to its landing zone. Single engine piloting protocol dictates that all tums are made toward the good engine. I started a medium tum to the left (into the good engine) around the center of the village of St. Mere Eglise to head back toward the coast. I looked down the left wing and I was looking straight into a pair of machine guns on a platform on top of a building. I think it was a church. As I was looking, the gunner opened fire, and his aim was excellent. His first burst knocked off most of the cowling on the good engine. His second burst knocked the cylinder heads off the engine top cylinders, and his third burst knocked the dome off the propeller. Propeller pitch control was immediately lost, and the blades flattened out. The engine ran away, broke, and stopped turning completely. Now I was flying a glider.
I stopped the tum, leveled the wings, and set up the glide. We were over a thickly forested area, but ahead I could see two possible clear landing fields, one too close and the other too far away, and both too small. If I tried to stretch the glide to the more distant field, we would stall, the airplane would hit the ground nose first at a sharp angle, and we would all be killed. A poor prospect. If I tried to land in the near field, I would have too much airspeed to land and get stopped before we hit the hedgerow. I called for flaps and landing gear to slow us down, but they were not available. The hydraulic system had been destroyed by the anti-aircraft fire. At this point, I concluded there was no real chance of survival. The axiom that there are no atheists in a foxhole also applies to doomed airplane cockpits. I made a quick prayer, “Dear God, take care of my wife Marilyn, and our unborn child."

I decided I would not give up without a fight, and I went to work. I pushed the airplane down below the tops of the trees in the forest we were flying over, and used the friction of the airplane striking the tree limbs as a crude brake to slow us down. I flipped the bail out bell switch to on which started a loud bell ringing and yelled, “Prepare for crash landing!” Kreutter and Briski, who were in the cabin, sat down with their backs against the bulkhead between the cabin and the flight deck. The last time I looked at the air speed, just before we crossed the border of the field, it indicated 120 mph. I slammed the airplane against the ground in an effort to slow it down, and it bounced.
Looking ahead, I could see slightly off to the right, a break in the tree line about 25 or 30 feet wide. I dragged the right wing tip on the ground, and with great good fortune was able to swing the nose (where the cockpit was) around far enough that when we hit the tree line, the nose was in the opening and was not damaged. The wings absorbed the inertia of the crash. The control wheel came back and hit me in the chest. If I had not had on the flack suit, my chest would have been crushed. As it was, ribs were broken. My seat and Gilbo’s seat were broken loose from the cockpit floor. Gilbo, my copilot, turned sideways in his seat just before the crash and suffered a compound fracture of his upper left arm, and was knocked unconscious.

It seemed as though the crash was endless. The airplane reared like a wild horse. The sound of metal being crushed was overwhelming. Suddenly, there was complete silence. I could not see anything until I realized that my goggles were shattered and opaque. I raised them, opened the side window, and looked out. There was nothing to see but shattered trees. The right side of the airplane was engulfed in flame. The Very pistol flares stowed under my seat began explode. I could actually feel the skin on the back of my hands begin to blister. Both Kreutter and Briski had been catapulted through the bulkhead onto the flight deck. Briski reached up between our seats and opened the escape hatch above us. We got Gilbo’s seat belt unlatched and pushed him up through the hatch and off the side of the fuselage. Next I went through and then Kreutter and finally Briski. We were all safely out. The airplane fuselage was broken in two pieces just aft of the door with the tail section at an angle from the rest of the fuselage.
We dragged ourselves about 50 feet away from the airplane. Briski went back to the airplane, reached through the door (now at ground level) into the fuselage, located a first aid kit on the wall, and brought it back. I had worn two wristwatches. One was an issue hack watch and the other was a 21 jewel Hamilton that my parents gave me for graduation. The hack watch was still on my wrist, but the Hamilton was gone forever. I looked to see what time it was and it was 21 minutes after 9 PM. There was double daylight savings time in England at that time so it was still daylight. We began to assess the damage. Without waming, the entire airplane erupted in flame, and we quickly retreated into a gully about 100 feet from the airplane.
Up a slight incline, perhaps 100 feet away was a farmhouse. There were several people on the porch. They did not offer to help in any way. We could have used some help...even if just a drink of water.
Gilbo was in great pain. His arm fracture was a compound one, and there was bone visible. We did not have anything from which to make a splint except a trench knife sheath. I removed my undershirt. We made bandage strips from it and used these and the knife sheath to immobilize his arm as well as we could. There was morphine in the first aid kit, but we did not want to do anything that would dull our senses. By this time, my chest was beginning to pain, and I could have used a shot of morphine. The people on the porch of the farmhouse just stood and watched us.
Why I picked up that compass in my foot locker, I'll never knom but I'm glad I did. We held a council of war to decide what to do. Daylight was fading fast. Our retum course, if flying, was 69 degrees. It would take us over Utah Beach. Knowing that we were only about 10 miles from the beach, we decided to use the compass and try to walk 69 degrees as close as we could.
We stood up. As soon as we exposed ourselves, we began taking fire from a German submachine gun on the other side of the clearing. We immediately dropped back into the depression. There was nothing to do except wait until dark. The shooter could have easily captured us because all of our weapons were being destroyed in the burning airplane. He did not, and for that, I am extremely grateful. While waiting for dark so we could move, I fell asleep.
During the pre-mission briefing, we had been told that although there were dirt embankments and thorn trees acting as boundaries between the fields, and that there would always be a gate through which farm machinery and animals could be moved from field to field. The French Underground had advised that many of these gates had been booby trapped with grenades. Since neither Gilbo nor I could climb any fences, it was going to be necessary to trust a gate each time we went from one field to another. As commander, it was my responsibility to open the gates. I do not know how many gates I opened, but I do know that I expected each one to blow up. It was a difficult task.
Finally, about 3:00 AM, as we were walking along a hedgerow looking for a gate, we heard a rustling on the other side. We froze into immobility. We had been given three things to help in survival on the ground... the challenge (thunder), the countersign (welcome) and a toy noisemaker called a cricket. One cricket chirp was a challenge, and an answering two chirps was the countersign. After a long moment, we heard a chirp. I immediately answered with two chirps. After a pause, a man's voice whispered "thunder" and I replied, “Welcome”. We had come upon an American paratrooper acting as a sentry for a group in a nearby barn. We were overjoyed.

The paratrooper escorted us to the barn. There were about 25 enlisted paratroopers there. They had captured the building late in the afternoon and moved their wounded into it. Their corpsman dressed GiIbo’s arm. He had no tape, but he tightly wrapped my ribs with a gauze bandage, and that eased the pain considerably. We were about 5 miles from the beach, but none of the invasion force had made it this far inland.
About 10:00 AM (this was June 7), a lone recon half-track circled through the farmyard. They were alone. The road to the beach was not secure. Regardless, we decided to try to make the beach as soon as possible. The paratroopers had captured the German equivalent of a Jeep and there was a farm wagon with steel tired wheels in the farmyard. About 10 of the paratrooper wounded were unable to sit up. We covered the floor of the wagon with straw and placed these wounded in it. We hitched the wagon to the German Jeep. Kreutter, Briski, and I secured folding stock carbine rifles from the bodies of dead paratroopers together with all the ammunition we could stuff into our pockets. We and the other walking wounded found places to sit on the German Jeep and the wagon. Our caravan started for the beach. We were under sporadic fire and had to fight all the way to the beach; and we were late aftemoon getting to it. Fortunately, none of us was wounded. There was a first aid tent on the waters edge with a Red Cross painted on it. All four of us headed for it, because Kreutter and Briski both had some serious burns on their arms and hands.
Gilbo and I found a couple of unoccupied stretchers and gratefully lay down on them. Shortly, a corpsman brought us each a canteen cup of hot coffee, a can of C-rations (pork and beans), and four cigarettes. I still remember that as one of the most welcome meals I have ever had. We had not eaten since noon the day before.
About midnight, our stretchers were loaded onto a DUKW (amphibious jeep). We were transported to a dock with an LST serving as a hospital transport anchored about 100 yards from the dock. When we came along side the LST, our stretchers were fastened to a line from an overhead crane on deck. We were lifted what seemed to be hundreds of feet into the air, swung over the side of the ship, and lowered into the LST’s hold. Our stretchers were placed in racks along the side of the hull.
After about 24 hours, we arrived at Southampton and were transported to the 1st General Hospital there. I was a mess. I had not shaved in two days, all exposed skin was covered in smoke, grease, dirt, and everything else, and I could even smell myself. I knew that a nurse with whom I had become acquainted in North Carolina had been transferred to this unit. I inquired of her. Within a half-hour, she was at my side. It was wonderful to see a friendly face. She helped me clean up. She did help me to the showers and to get a clean hospital gown. She saw to it that I got a good meal. What a relief!
I was able to send an immediate message to my Commanding officer advising that all of the Very pistol flares should be relocated in some place other that the cockpit, which they were.
I finally saw a doctor the next day and my chest was x-rayed. The ribs had already began to knit, so there was nothing to do but properly tape my chest and send me back to my unit. Two days later, I was back with my unit, and 10 days later I was flying re-supply missions to the beach.

About a month after D-day, General James Gavin (commanding officer of the 1st Allied Airbome Army) held a parade with all the Troop Carrier personal of the 1st Allied Airbome Army taking part. There I was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart. Later I was also awarded the Air Medal and one silver Oak Leaf Cluster signifying the award of 5 more Air Medals.

We were the first crew to survive a combat crash in a C-47!


Louis R. Emerson,     ( April 03, 2004)