Mission “Luftwaffe” end up in tragedy    90th Troop Carrier Squadron

Reims airfield A-79      March 14, 1945

 

In March 1945, the practice mission “Luftwaffe” was planned. This was to start on March 11th and last until the 15th. Paratroop and paradrop missions were to be flown. Ten in total.

Every morning and afternoon a flight would take the sky and execute the operation.

 

These exercises were necessary for periodically qualification jumps. The 82nd Airborne Division would jump during this exercise.

On the 14th, parts of the 508th PIR were scheduled to jump. The 1st Battalion and Regimental HQ were to be on the morning serial. They prepared for the mission, as did the Troop Carrier crew.

42 C-47 took the air and flew to the DZ. Paratroopers began jumping out over the DZ, filling the sky with approximately 450 parachutes. At that point, one of the C-47s lost a propeller, nosed down and flew through the paratroopers. The 90th Troop Carrier Squadron plane was:

 

42-100781

 

It was flown by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plane lost the starboard propeller. As it was flying at the speed and altitude for dropping paratroopers, the pilot had no chance to level the plane. The plane cut through a stick of paratroopers, causing casualties among the 508th PIR troopers.

One paratrooper’s ‘chute was caught by the tail. This was Richard Stedman who remarkable he survived. Others weren’t that lucky and died with the C-47 crew. Those troopers were:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Pfc. Bernard Levin had no parachute gear with him during this flight. He was making drawings of the jump on his sketchpad.

One of the spectators of the exercise jump, and witness of the terrible accident was Marlene Dietrich.
 

 

Sources

 

http://www.508pir.org/

Into field of Fire – Austin Buchanan & George Collins

Roll of Honor 82nd Airborne Division world War 2

The 508th connection – Zig Boroughs

 

PIL

1st Lt.

Forrest R. Van Slyke

 

COP

2nd Lt.

Lionel M. Richards

 

C/C

T/Sgt.

Walter K. Keefe

Epinal A-13-64

R/O

S/Sgt

Friedhelm A. Elias

Epinal B-42-34

1st Lt.

Nick C. Emanuel

Hq/Hq

Pfc

Bernard Levin

G-co

Pfc

Luther M. Tillery

Hq/Hq

Pfc

Charles Under Baggage Jr.

Hq/Hq

Pfc

Alfred J. Vaughan

Hq/Hq

Pfc

George W. Wall

R/Hq

Lt. Rex Combs, veteran of the Normandy, Holland and Ardennes fighting, was atpresent to take a few photos of the wrecked and smoking C-47.

Note the parachute on the tail of the plane, photo left.

Airborne Troop Carrier - Miscellaneous