On 15 August 1944 paratroopers were dropped from this exact aircraft, "That’s All Brother", during the invasion of Southern France for Operation Dragoon. It was a surreal moment to be going "Airborne" in that aircraft, a National Treasure, and from such a classic place, the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, VA, near Va Beach. We took off and landed on a grass runway that included a WWII control tower from America's first airfield in Britain...Goxhill, England, originally built in 1940 then removed and re-built here, and with all of the WWII aircraft already there, it doesn't get much better. A couple of months prior to Operation Dragoon "That’s All Brother" was the lead aircraft for the Normandy Invasion for Operation Overlord…in the War Diary of Charles W. Lusher he penned, “The last of the planes were warming up their engines as I finished my rounds… Lt. Col. Donalson and Lt. Col Daniel pulled the lead ship out of the parking area. “Soon they would be pushing the jump button on their plane named “That’s All, Brother” and the invasion of Europe would be on.” It was later utilized for Market Garden as well…GOYA!! Military Aviation MuseumCommemorative Air Force That's All, Brother... See More from 551See Less from 551
We sadly announce the passing of Mary Scango... Over 78 years ago, on February 7, 1944, Ernest Scango made one of the best decisions of his life when he married Mary just before departing for WWII. Ernest, B Company 551st PIB, is about to turn 100 on 8 January and has had Mary by his side All The Way. Sadly, their daughter informed us today that Mary’s work on this earth has ended, as she passed away while in Hospice care yesterday. Thoughts and prayers to the Scango family, but also much gratitude to Mary for creating such a great life for a hero of ours. Of course Mary is a hero of ours too… ... See More from 551See Less from 551
"D-Day in South France: 1809 hours, 15 August 1944. The 551st hitting down at La Motte, near Le Muy"
Major "Pappy" Herrmann (from letters dated 1982):
"I looked around me at an awe-inspiring sight. The sky was filled with camouflaged parachutes with little men, their hands and faces streaked with camouflage paint and perspiration, swinging beneath them. Then we started comparing the terrain below us with the sand tables and photos we had studied. Yes, there was a railroad and there was the highway, and over there was the river. We were hitting the target. On the ground it was quiet except for a few nervous bursts of small-arms fire. I had some anxious minutes getting down from the top of the highest tree in the area. Then, as we ran across the field to the assembly area, we had to keep our eyes open dodging the gliders which by that time were landing on the same field. Some of them were cracking up as they hit trees and ditches. I’ll stick to parachutes. We passed a dead German soldier and I’m sure everyone of us paused for a split second to look at him. Later we didn’t pay much attention to such things. When I reached the assembly area the Colonel and the company commanders were already there and our task was at hand. Our mission was to shield the beachhead against any incursion of German reserves, so we were looking to the north toward Draguignan even then.”
SGT Hugh Roberts was a pathfinder from the 551st who jumped in the early morning prior to daylight, and this is his recollection after witnessing the jump from the ground. Roberts was near a German camp and in eyesight of a German anti-aircraft battery while making his way back to the 551st. Quoted by Dan Morgan from SGT Roberts' journal dated 14 August and later:
"...we could hear a humming sound and I said to the kid, ‘That’s the main body coming.’ It went for a few minutes and pretty soon all the airplanes – Jesus, the sky was black. We were lying in this vineyard and I could see the Colonel coming over, looking out the door of the lead aircraft! Christ, he wasn’t 500 feet from me. Those antiaircraft crews never fired a shot – they just stood there with their barrels pointed right up in the air, and we were just about 200 feet away from them. We were watching them watching our airplanes."*
**All quotes are from The Left Corner Of My Heart by Dan Morgan
One of those parachutes was my Dad, Stanley Pakel.
Jacqueline M Greis, Paul Greis, Terry Balcavage, Dad’s mentioned in this book
They were so brave...
Incredibly brave and heroic
Greatness was more common than uncommon among that group of heroes I've found after learning about Little Poppy's, my grandfather's, service among them...and knowing his personal story following the war. He wasn't an anomaly, they were all incredible and served us all honorably during some terrible times. In the Bulge several of them fell asleep and never woke up, not due to gunshot wounds or fratricide, but of acute hypothermia...they simply froze to death. They carried the day no matter the conditions and never missed an objective. That attitude, for those that survived, followed all of them home as they all seemed to have lived the remainder of their lives to the fullest without fear of failure or anything else. Like they knew they had been through the worst and it couldn't stop them, so after returning home they shot for the moon and most of them seemed to have landed on it as our best Soldiers then went on to become our best citizens, as well as fathers, uncles, grandfathers, loyal employees, business owners, lawyers, professors, Rhode scholars, career military and just straight up heroes. GOYA!!!
To your cousin, John Collins, A Company 551st PIB KIA during the initial Allied Counter-Offensive for the Battle of the Bulge spearheaded by the 551st PIB, 505th RCT of the 82nd and the 517th on 3JAN45...SALUTE!!
Thank you! He and his Mom were very close; buried side by side. She kept his photo in her living room.
John Collins...thank you for your service and sacrifice!