Operation Varsity: 17th Airborne Division Member Frank J. O'Rourke Recalls the Assault | HistoryNet MENU

Operation Varsity: 17th Airborne Division Member Frank J. O’Rourke Recalls the Assault

6/12/2006 • World War II

On Christmas morning 1944, I was a member of the 17th Airborne Division when it was loaded onto Douglas C-47s at an airport in England and flown to France. A week later, on New Year’s Day, we were trucked up to Belgium to a position outside of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne was surrounded. Some 40 days later, we were pulled out of the Bulge and settled in at a camp outside Châlons-sur-Marne, France, to be reorganized and refitted.


Seventeenth Airborne Division troopers hug the ground to avoid incoming enemy machine gun fire. A British-made Airspeed Horsa glider sits alone in the background.

As a result of the casualties the division had suffered, the 193rd and 194th Glider Infantry regiments were combined into one regiment, while the 507th and 513th Parachute Infantry regiments received hundreds of replacements from the States to fill out their depleted ranks. During the time the division was in the Ardennes, 1,839 were killed or wounded, about 45 casualties per day.

When March came to northern France the sun was bright, and for me and my comrades in Company C, 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, life at Châlons-sur-Marne became pleasant — no artillery, no mortars, no machine gun fire, no foxholes, no frostbite, no casualties.

But it did not last.

On March 20, we boarded trucks and were taken to a camp outside an airfield near Paris. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire and patrolled by MPs. No one got in without permission. No one got out.

There we were briefed. The 17th Airborne Division and the British 6th Airborne Division were to launch an operation, code-named ‘Varsity,’ over the Rhine River at Wesel, Germany, to pave the way for Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery’s attack through the Reich. The briefing was thorough and included photos so detailed that we could pick out German foxholes.

The last glider that would land was identified not by a number, as all the rest of the gliders were, but by the code name ‘Phantom.’ This glider would carry two American officers who spoke fluent German. Dressed in Wehrmacht uniforms, they were to drive an enemy jeep up and down the nearby autobahn and spread false rumors among the Germans troops. I thought these two guys must be out of their minds. If the Germans didn’t capture them and shoot them, then we might. Their glider, however, was hit in the air by flak, and the jeep was disabled, so their mission ended abruptly. I always wondered if they were disappointed.

Going into Germany by glider was not a prospect any of us welcomed. On December 12, 1944, while we were still in England, my company had been taken to an airfield for an orientation ride in the Airspeed Horsa, a British glider. Much larger than the American Waco CG-4A gliders, these were capable of carrying 32 passengers as well as the pilot and co-pilot.

There were six gliders sitting in a row on the tarmac when we arrived. Because there were enough of us for seven loads — and I was in the seventh group — I didn’t get to fly. Annoyed because it meant I would have to stay over and fly the next day, I went back with the others to the tents and waited.

In time the guys from the company who had flown that morning began to come in and told us that one of the gliders had gone down when its tail had come off. All on board had been killed. They weren’t wearing parachutes. No one ever wore a parachute in a glider.

The company commander called us out and read the names of the guys in the glider. We lost one mortar squad, one machine gun squad, one rifle squad and some from company and battalion headquarters. Together for more than a year, we knew each other as intimately as we knew members of our own families. That night we stripped the beds of the men from the machine gun squad in our barracks and packed up their personal possessions.

A few days later we went by bus to a cemetery outside Oxford to bury those men. Their graves had been dug by German prisoners, who stared at us as we passed. They seemed, as fellow soldiers, to share our sadness.

On March 24 our glider was scheduled to land five miles beyond the Rhine River at Landing Zone (LZ) S. Operation Varsity had many firsts, which apparently thrilled the generals. It was to be the largest single airborne assault of the war and the first time the glider regiments would land without the LZ being secured first by paratroopers. It was also the first time that the gliders would go into combat on a double tow.

At 0530 hours on the 24th, the first sergeant called us out: ‘Okay, off and on. Chow in 10 minutes. Fall out, column of twos.’

As I awoke, I thought at first that we were still in the States, and I was being called out for another day in the field, another day of running around the pinewoods of North Carolina, digging foxholes, playing at being soldier. But when the cold morning air swept over my face and I saw the first sergeant’s silhouette in the tent opening, I knew this was no dream.

At the airfield C-47s were in a long line, with two CG-4A gliders parked behind each. A Waco glider consisted of a metal frame wrapped in canvas with a plywood floor and plywood benches for the troops to sit on. It could carry 13 soldiers, a pilot and co-pilot. Ours also had cloverleafs of mortar shells tied down on the floor.

As we waited at the airfield, Sergeant Milton Anderson’s 60mm mortar squad — the squad I was assigned to — sat under its glider’s wing, smoked cigarettes and waited for the order to load. The pilot looked like a typical glider pilot. Wearing a wool knit cap, an old flight jacket and dress shoes, he was not outfitted for combat. His appearance was so casual that it gave me a sense of security to be in his hands.

The co-pilot, however, did not look as nonchalant. A C-47 pilot, he had been pressed into service because of the shortage of glider pilots. He looked nervous; he should have been.

The C-47s began to rev up their engines, and the word came down the line for the troops to load up. The platoon leader, Lieutenant Herman Clausen, sat up front behind the co-pilot. As the section sergeant of the mortars, I sat by the door. If the pilot and co-pilot got hit, Clausen was to land the glider. Given that he had no training in how to fly the fragile craft, all he could have done was to try and get down without crashing and killing us all. We liked Clausen, but we weren’t too confident in his ability to learn to fly a glider with two dead pilots at the controls.

Through the front of the glider’s Plexiglas nose, over the shoulders of the two pilots, I could see the fat, gray, whalelike tail of the C-47 tow ship with a nylon rope hanging loosely from it like an umbilical cord. A corporal from the ground crew climbed up on the front of our glider, attached the towline to it and gave a thumbs-up signal to the pilot before dropping to the ground and moving off to the right and front of the C-47.

He began to signal with his extended arm in a twirling motion to the C-47 pilot to begin moving his plane forward. When the towrope snapped straight out, the corporal twirled like a ballet dancer and, pointing his right arm at the end of the runway, signaled the C-47 pilot to rev his engines to full power. The towrope stretched taut, and our glider jerked forward, first up on its nose, then flopping back down again on its tail, until it began to roll along the runway behind its mother ship. The glider pilot pulled back on the stick, and the Waco lifted into the air after the C-47. We were airborne.


The fields of the landing zone are littered with gliders that have landed intact.

It was too noisy in the glider to talk, so we sat hunched forward in out seats, resting on our rifles, smoking cigarettes, looking out the small porthole windows where, when we passed over villages, we could see people standing in the yards outside their houses waving up at us as the gliders swept over them. For two hours the glider pitched and yawed behind the tow plane as the pilot fought to maintain control, always conscious of the towrope, which could wrap around a wing, tear it off, and we would plunge to earth. He also had to keep careful watch on the other glider attached to the towrope. With the slightest loss of control, that glider could have swung over and crashed into us — or we could have crashed into it. As we neared the Rhine River, the pilot turned and shouted over his shoulder, ‘Five minutes!’

Soon after, puffs of flak appeared ahead and to the right of the C-47. They looked like small, black clouds as they drifted past.

The pilot raised his right hand and rested it on the tow release. ‘Get ready!’ he shouted. Throughout the glider, we began bracing ourselves, locking our rifles tight against our bodies and the edge of our helmets. The pilot hit the tow release, and the nose of the glider lifted sharply. The tow plane pulled away to begin its run back to the Allied lines.

The glider banked to the left, hanging momentarily as if in a stall with its left wing almost perpendicular to the earth. Then it straightened out and rushed toward the ground at a speed of about 60 miles per hour.

I could see the earth through a small Plexiglas window in the rear floor of the glider. When we were 10 or so feet off the ground, I pulled the release on the door beside me so it wouldn’t jam when we hit and trap us inside.

The landing was routine. The glider went up on its nose as it slowed, then came down again and stopped. I unsnapped my seat belt and went out the door.

In front of me was the bank of the Issel Canal. It gave me cover from the front, so I ran toward it. Slightly to my left was glider 113, which had been on the short tow with us. As I rounded its tail, a burst of bullets kicked up dirt in front of me. I wheeled left toward the source and saw a glider pilot sweeping the field with an automatic rifle. He stopped when he recognized me, and I ran to the ditch where Gene Tinnan’s machine gun squad was huddled and firing at a flak gun emplacement in the corner of the field.

Without a tripod for his machine gun, Frank Paskowski had propped it up on a hedge and had pinned the Germans down until Bob Waterloo’s rifle squad came along the top of the canal and threw a grenade at the entrance to the emplacement. The Germans came pouring out with their hands up in the air.

Normally we sent prisoners back to the rear, but since we were five miles from the Rhine and had no rear to speak of, we herded the Germans into the center of the pasture. The glider pilots guarded them until someone came along to collect them.

We followed the canal we had landed beside, then passed a woods on our left where we drew fire. A rifle squad from the company went in and cleared the woods. As I watched them, I thought about how much we had matured from our first days in combat during the Battle of the Bulge — we had become professional soldiers.

When we reached our objective along the canal, we dug foxholes and prepared to defend the position. A couple of hundred yards or so farther down in the corner of the pasture that fronted us was a German bunker. We set up Sergeant Bill Wolford’s mortar and gave Rich Wise, the gunner, a rough estimate of the distance to the target. The mortar round arced through the air and landed on top of the German bunker — a direct hit. Enemy soldiers came pouring out and began running to the woods behind them. We were so surprised that we just stared at each other and at the running Germans.

An artillery observer with us called coordinates to his guns across the Rhine to lay a barrage on the woods where we saw the Germans taking cover. We heard the shells coming, but instead of passing over us to their target in the woods, they began exploding on our side of the canal.

The artillery observer was hit by shrapnel, and we were just as glad to see him go. He had given the guns the wrong coordinates. We didn’t need his kind of help.

In the afternoon a Consolidated B-24 came over on a resupply mission. It had been hit by flak, and as it passed over we could see smoke pouring from its engines. It was down to only a few hundred feet when two of the crew jumped; their chutes opened just as they disappeared into the woods.

For the rest of the day we lay on the bank of the canal and kept watch on the distant woods for some sign of the Germans. We didn’t know it, but the enemy was not that far away. In the afternoon, some 20 yards across the canal, a small white piece of cloth began to wave from a foxhole. We stared at the flag. We stared at each other. Finally we yelled, ‘Kommen Sie hier.‘ Two Germans got out of the foxhole and with their hands in the air came over and surrendered. One was an old man who was genuinely happy to be taken prisoner. The other was a young SS man who acted arrogant. We were not impressed. The whole scene was comical. How could these two Germans have been 20 or so yards away all this time and gone undetected? We sent them back to join the prisoners we had in the pasture.

Our night passed in relative quiet. The next day we searched through a British glider that had landed in the pasture and crashed across the canal. There was no sign of the pilots.

Also in the distance across the pasture we could see glider 122 from C Company. It had come down outside the company’s landing zone and sat alone in the pasture by the edge of the woods. The men who had traveled in it had not been as lucky as we had been.

Sergeant James Gregory’s rifle squad and the platoon leader, Lieutenant Hymie Glasser, had come down in that glider. As Glasser tried to figure out where they were, the members of Gregory’s squad thought it was all too quiet. There were no other gliders in the pasture; they were all alone. There were no signs or sounds of war. Perhaps they thought they had landed on the other side of the Rhine.

But the quiet didn’t last long; they soon started to receive rifle and machine gun fire. When they returned fire, one by one they were picked off.

First killed was Sergeant Gregory, next the BAR man Rich Mowrey, and then a replacement who had joined the company only a few weeks before the Varsity operation. He had lasted just one day in combat; none of the survivors knew his name.

Lieutenant Glasser received a head wound, and Bill Whalen, the platoon runner, thought he was dead. Glasser’s eyes were open, but he did not seem able to talk. Whalen poured sulfa powder on the wound and then gave him a shot of the morphine all airborne troopers carried.

With the platoon leader wounded and the squad leader dead, Whalen took charge. A German lieutenant called to them in very good English that they should surrender. They looked about them. They had three dead comrades and a lieutenant with a serious head wound. There was not much sense in continuing to fight, so the Americans laid down their weapons, stood up and surrendered.

They were taken into a bunker where a German noncom, who had been wounded in the leg during the exchange of fire, kept threatening to shoot them. The German lieutenant stopped the man from menacing them, explaining to the captured Americans that the sergeant’s leg wound was very bad, and that he had lost a brother in Africa. According to the German lieutenant, the anger was understandable.

Lieutenant Glasser, although not able to talk, was still alive, so the remaining squad members made a makeshift litter and carried him as they were moved back through the German lines. In one town they came upon a hospital, and their German guards told them it would be best if they left the lieutenant there. They reassured the Americans that he would get the necessary medical treatment. He did and went on to survive the war.

On the third day after landing across the Rhine, we were scheduled to be replaced by a company from the 513th Regiment. As the time approached, I sent the mortars back and had begun to follow them when the Germans attacked. Bullets flew over our heads as we crouched behind the canal bank.

Frank Paskowski had his machine gun dug in at the canal and fired at the Germans trying to cross. A German bullet slammed into his right hand, and he wheeled back from the gun. He had lost two fingers. Another member of the machine gun squad took his place and continued firing down the canal.

The Germans stopped trying to take our positions at about the same time the company from the 513th arrived. As I moved back and passed the line of troopers from the 513th, I recognized one of them from my hometown. I said something like, ‘You’re going the wrong way,’ but he didn’t see the humor in it.

By now we had hooked up with the ground troops coming across the Rhine, and we settled down for the night in a relatively secure area. First Platoon Sergeant Morris Patty took a patrol out to check the perimeter of our position. He was killed by a sniper on his way back.

The next day, along with the British 6th Airborne, we pushed off in the lead of Montgomery’s army in a sweep that would encircle the Ruhr Valley. We met only scattered resistance until we came upon Munster. It was a fairly large city with a population of probably more than 100,000. We attacked about 4 in the afternoon across pastures that surrounded the town. Supporting us were British tanks from the 6th Guards Armoured Brigade. As I stopped behind a hedge, one of the tanks came up beside me and a sergeant, sitting up in the turret, leaned over and shouted to me, ‘It’s a bloody good show, Yank!’ I just stared at him. It sounded like a line from a movie. The ‘bloke’ was obviously enjoying himself. But he was right. The 17th crossed the open pastures surrounding the city, and as I followed along I had to agree it was a ‘bloody good show.’ When we reached the city, I met the company commander, Captain Ray Strang. ‘Lieutenant Clausen got it,’ he said. That was all we ever said when someone was killed. ‘He got it’ was our euphemism for death. It didn’t sound so bad. It sounded as though he had received a present. Lucky him. But Clausen was well liked and regardless of how we masked our emotions, it still hurt.

After Munster, we continued to march on through the German countryside until we reached Duisburg in the Ruhr Valley. For us the war was now over. The last one of us who got it was Lieutenant Clausen.

Years after the war, I read the after-action report the Army had prepared on Operation Varsity. The report listed each glider in the operation and described what had happened to it. Glider 122 was listed as being missing when it came down outside the LZ. My glider, 114, was one of the few that had not been hit in the air by small-arms fire or flak. Too many were listed as having aborted their flight because they had been hit in the air and exploded.

I have a picture of C Company taken before we went overseas. The officers of the company are in the center of the first row. There were five of them. Three were killed. The only one to remain with us was Captain Strang, the company commander. There were other officers who had joined the company at various times. One was Lieutenant Robert Brown, who was the Weapons Platoon leader. He was killed only weeks before the end of the war. Moving down a road through a woods, we came under sniper fire. Most of us hit the ground in ditches parallel to the road, but not Brown. He stood up and said, ‘I’ll get the bastard.’ He didn’t. The bastard got him. The Army gave Brown a Silver Star.

Brown was one of the few people I knew who wanted to be in combat. The rest of us just accepted the job that had to be done. Some did it better than others, but no one was running around trying to be a hero. When we first landed in France and were waiting for trucks to take us to Belgium, I was sitting next to a fire with Lieutenant Brown and he showed me a World War I trench knife he carried. ‘I’m gonna kill some Germans with this,’ he said and then added as though it was an afterthought, ‘And they’re gonna kill me.’ He did, and they did.

Then there was Lieutenant Guerett Loomis. He was tall, very tall. He was transferred to battalion headquarters and went in by glider with Major Leland Huntley, the assistant battalion commander. Their glider landed directly in front of a German 88mm artillery piece. The Germans fired and put a shell through the front of the glider, killing all on board.

When we had first arrived at the Bulge, one of the mortar squad leaders, Don Swanell, and I dug a foxhole behind a low line of hedge. In front of us was the body of a dead GI. He was from the 28th Division and had been hit by a piece of shrapnel that had cut a slice across his stomach. He lay on his back, and the flesh on his abdomen had curled back as it froze.

Brown and Loomis came up to our foxhole and wanted to know what we were going to do with the dead GI. We shrugged. We had no idea what we were supposed to do with dead guys. So Brown and Loomis each grabbed one of the GI’s legs and dragged him back to the village of Houmont, where they were collecting the dead. When both of them were killed later on, someone else dragged them back to where the dead were being collected.

When I got home, I put a white dot on the picture of everyone in the company who had been killed. There were a lot of white dots, but there could have been more. The men underneath the white dots were replaced. Some of those replacements also would have been white dots.


This article was written by Frank J. O’Rourke and originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of World War II. For more great articles be sure to pick up your copy of World War II.

59 Responses to Operation Varsity: 17th Airborne Division Member Frank J. O’Rourke Recalls the Assault

  1. Judy c. King says:

    My father was in the varsity mission.His name was (Boots)C.B. King. He was a glidder pilot.Would like to talk to anyone knowing him and his mission. This publication was quiet interesting. Would like to know more about this mission. Thanks for any info. Judy King

  2. William Boyd says:

    I am looking for information about my great uncle who was killed in Wesel Germany on 24 Mar 1945. His name was Charles Edward Alford frpom Columbus, Ohio

  3. Teresa Anderson Janda says:

    I am looking for information regarding my father James Franklin Anderson “Andy” who served with the 17th. and was with the Varsity operation

  4. Paul R. Billings says:

    I was a crew member on a B-24, dropping supplies…Took many pictures of gliders on the ground. (389th Bomb Group)

  5. Jenine Patty-Anderson says:

    I am the niece of the First Platoon Sergeant Morris Patty, named in the article above. My father, Ralph Patty, 84, still speaks proudly of his older brother Morris, and continues to miss him.

    Several family members, mostly Uncle Morris’ nieces and nephews, have over the years visited his grave in Margraten.

    While he was not here to be a part of our lives, his family has kept his memory very much alive.

    If anyone does have anything to share about my uncle, it would be greatly appreciated by many.

    Jenine Patty-Anderson

  6. Karen Jackson says:

    I looking for information on my mother’s cousin, Harold Lotze, who was in the 17th Airborn and died March 31, 1945 in the Netherlands.

  7. Michael Wise says:

    I am Michael Wise, the grandson of Richard “Rich” Wise. I am so proud of him and of all the selfless and valiant men of the airborne.

    Your deeds will always be cherished and you will always be real heroes in my heart and mind!

    Thank you so much for what you did to keep us free, you will never be forgottten no matter how many years pass!

  8. Scott Sherman says:

    My uncle, 2nd Lt. Hugh McNeill, of H Co., 507th P.I.R. died on 3/24/45 during Operation Varsity. If anyone has any recollections of him and his service, I’d be grateful to hear from you.


    Scott Sherman

  9. joseph lyons says:

    i was wondering if any men of the 17thab 139th aeb have known my cousin carl j. frigone whos was killed feb. 8th 1945 in belgium. he was from a small town in penna called giradeville.im looking for a company photo. thank you

    • richard madden says:

      Check this link out has 139th AEB:


    • Col Ozzie Gorbitz, USAFR (Ret.) says:

      Dear Mr. Lyons,
      I am in the final stages of finishing a detailed history of the 139th AEB. I have compiled many documents and conducted some limited interviews of veterans. I would be interested in corresponding with you and would assist in providing any information that i could find concerning your cousin. Please contact me via email and I will gladly work with you. I have also started a blog, wherein i post occasional information on the 139th AEB and the 17th A/B: http://castraponere.com/bloodonthetalon/ I look forward to hearing from you.



      • Rock says:

        Oz, send me your email and tele, I would like to stay in touch. Hope all is well. Rock

  10. Bergmann Pavel says:

    If someone want pamphlet (history) of 139th AEB I have a copy of them. Send me your mail address and I send you a copy in Word format. My email is bergmann.pavel@stc.cz

  11. Bergmann Pavel says:

    I forgot we have pages about 17th AB have look a http://www.17th-airborne.eu

  12. Mike Vowell says:

    Seeking Information regarding Lt. Clair. J. Vowell, C Company, 139th AB, Engineer Battalion, 117th AB

    Interested in unit history, dad didn’t talk much about his experience and has since passed away. Talked a bit about funny things but something really bothered him, mentioned Sgt. being sent to a stockade and killed trying to escape. He blamed another officer, said it was uncalled for.

    I was told he and others had been captured during the Bulge but were able to kill the guards and escape into the woods and rejoin the AB unit.

    He had no use for the British after Market Garden, said their command caused many deaths of AB, Brit and American

    He was trained in Tank Destroyers but got into trouble and was “voluneered” for the AB

    Mentioned losing a soilder to locals during war games in Texas, and running off a another soldier’s parachute afer falling on it during a decent. Landed in a tobacco field and the locals stopped yelling about stripping his gear before the military arrived.

    Also said they did less then 500 ft jumps, no reserve, one swing then he was down. Gave one leg a reserve full of sawdust after he kept poping his reserve in training. Used a Thompson in towns and a M-1 in the field. Kept his bars under the collar, chewed out by Patton for not having a helmet on.

    Traded a farm house with the Germans during the Bulge, each side would booby trap the house finally they lost the house and blew the stove.

    Took all the ammo from the replacements arriving after war, one had put a boozka rd into the local cat house. Caused the veterans to be very upset, the girls had gone on strike until compensated.

    Sent into the German Alps after the SS, buried many in the caves they were hiding in. Came back to the states on the Queen Mary, parade through New York while the MPs stripped all the war souveniors out of the units baggage. Lost a SS belt buckle pistol to them.

    He was very upset to learn the “kids” they captured and sent to the rear were starved and ill treated by the rear echelon units. Told me the Germans were using wood bullets near the end of the war.

    CID tried to buy gasoline, took them to the provost. Made them walk infront of a jeep covered by a 30 cal.

    I guess he told me more then I thought, but would sure like to find out what caused him to turn away from that experience. Never joined the VFW etc.

    • Col Ozzie Gorbitz, USAFR (Ret.) says:

      Dear Mr. Vowell,
      I am in the final stages of finishing a detailed history of the 139th AEB. I have compiled many documents and conducted some limited interviews of veterans. I would be interested in corresponding with you and would assist in providing any information that i could find concerning your father. Please contact me via email and I will gladly work with you. I have also started a blog, wherein I post occasional information on the 139th AEB and the 17th A/B: http://castraponere.com/bloodonthetalon/ I look forward to hearing from you.


  13. Stan henning says:

    I have recently aquired a print from a painting called “The Drop Zone” depicting events of Operation Varsity. The original painting was by Pfc Robert. M. Baldwin Co.H, 507 P.I.R. 17AB. Can anyone tell me anything about the painter and where the original is now. Thanks, It really is true when they say that “a picture tells a thousand words!”

    • jessica brooks says:

      I am responding to the post about Robert Baldwin and “the drop zone”. Robert, was my grandfather. He died in 2003. If you want any information please email me off topic. jessical.brooks@hotmail.com. I believe the original paintings are in a museum in Ft Benning, Georgia. I will find out for you. He was very dear to all of us. Thanks for remembering him.
      jess baldwin brooks

  14. James Kelly says:

    My uncle, and name sake, PFC James M kelly was a member of Company C of the 194 GIR…He was wounded during Operation Varsity, and died a few days later…Does anyone have information on him???

  15. Jack says:

    My half brother, Jack Porter, Jr., was KIA March, 1945 during Operation Varsity. He was a private with 507th P.I.R., 17th ABD. We would like to hear anything about their service, and especially from anyone who knew him.


  16. Denny says:

    My Dad was a member of the 17th airborne. He did not have to go into the service as he worked at Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore but he said all his friends were joining up so he did too. He was a part of Operation Varsity as well!

  17. Matthew Baldwin says:

    Stan Henning if you happen to check this site out ever again I stumbled onto this page when I was googling my Grandfather Robert M. Baldwin. The painting was actually 1 of 3 that he did as a set. Each depicted some of what he saw that day. He passed away in 2004 and the originals were donated to the Fort Benning Musuem per his request. He was a talented artist and my brother and I are lucky enough to have some more pieces he did of WW2 and the Civil War. He also designed numerous unit monuments overseas and the one I think he was most proud of designing was the Airborne Walk at Fort Benning.

    • jessica brooks says:

      Hey Matthew,
      I don’t know why we have to run into each other online like this for the same reason. I was googling grandad too. Showing my daughters pictures of the airborne walk and was wondering if anyone out there in cyberland remembered him. I seen your name and wondered if you were uncle carls kid, but now I know you are. We need to talk and stay in touch.

  18. Sue Volz ( Snyder) says:

    My dad, Harold K. Snyder was part of the 194th – Operation Varsity, he drove a jeep for Lt Col Joseph Keating and was part of the 681 st glider. I want to find any information about his war activities & find if there is any one who knows him. In fact, my dad is still alive and doing well, I understand his nick name was “Shorty”. Any information would be greatly appreciated because I want to put a memorial book together for all of his family to have, share, remember and more.

    Thank-you, Sue Volz

  19. C.P. Manicchia says:

    My Uncle, Milton Upton, was with the 17th. It is my understanding he was the oldest enlisted man ever to receive his jump wings…I believe he was 31-32 yrs old at that time. He was wounded during the battle of the bulge and ended up in a hosp. in France.
    Anyone know of him? I think his nick name was “Pops”?


  20. Alfred Vadder says:

    Zur Zeit beschäftige ich mich mit Familien-und Heimatforschung.Mir fehlen NOCH detalierte Berichte Über Kampfh
    andlungen in Buldern.Buldern IST Eine kleine Ortschaft Zwischen Wesel und Münster / Westf.Auf DEM Weg nach Münster / Westf. Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Würde sterben 17. Airborn Division am 30./31.03.1945 in Kämpfe bei Buldern verwickelt.Mich interesieren sterben Verluste und Das Kampfprotokoll Welches von der US Army aufgezeichnet wurde.Weiterhin Möchte ich in ” “Erfahrung bringen , mit den Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Würde ca.4 -5 Gis Geschehen ist , bin Pays Welche 1945.03.30 Deutsche in Gefangenschaft gerieten.Meiner meinung nach gehörten zu sterben Soldaten Einer Aufklärungsgruppe Pays Welche von Dülmen aus operierte.Es wäre schön , WENN MIR Jemand Hinweise geben könnte Krieg 30/31.03.1945 geschen ist.Über freundliche Uhr Antworten Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Würde ich mich sehr freuen.Es grüßt Alfred Vadder .

    • Alfred Vadder says:

      Dear Sir,
      for my private researches I am looking for details for the Battle of Buldern(Germany) from March,30th to March 31st 1945.
      As a child I have experienced the fights.The losses of the US ARMY
      interest me at people and and material.I am grateful for every note.

      Yours Alfred Vadder

  21. Jack Driggers says:

    My uncle Elmer Beto was a member of the 193rd during the Battle of the Bulge and was folded into the combined regiment once the Bulge had been completed. He was a member of one of the mortar crews and like many did not talk of the war. He did say he remembers getting caught on barbed wire and a bullet cutting him loose and he remembered a round coming up through the floor between his legs on the way to the 17th crossing of the Rhine. He passed away about ten years ago as I remember.

    • Diane says:

      My Dad, Melvin Lagoon served with a Beto during the Bulge. I have seen photos of a Beto with him during Operation Varsity with the E194GIR.

  22. MARTIN Greene says:

    My uncle whom at Wesel ALSO SURVIVED the one day of the 193rd GIR, HIS NAME WAS CLARENCE PUTMAN ANYONE having acurate info., this would be for my mom.


    • Diane says:

      My father, Melvin Lagoon, also served in the 193rd and with Puttman. Have photos of them together. Stories of their times during the Bulge, before he was KIA during Operation Varsity.

  23. William W.Anderson says:

    My grandfather, T. Sgt. William Webster Beatty, was part of the 17th Airborne Division, 513 PIR that participated in Operation Varsity. Just before he passed away in 1999, i finally got him to sit for some questions about his time as a paratrooper and his generation’s experience living through the depression and the war .. Since his death in 1999, i have extensively researched not only his life and affiliations, but i have become irreversibly addicted to the study of the period surrounding this world-altering global struggle. I must say that the generation that was alive at that time went through so much more struggle than our society of convenience, and it makes me feel very thankful, fortunate, lucky and at times-even “spoiled”. These conveniences that we now have and largely take for granted are largely due to the courage, bravery and sacrifice that my Grandfather and millions like him made so that we could be free and safe.
    Very proud of you, Pop, and i miss you. Here’s to all those who fought, lived, died, and gave their all in a time that changed the world.

  24. Don Forbes says:

    Any information on my friend Sgt Homer Bates Chase Co B 513th Reg. 17th Div would be appreciated. My E-Mail is chicagostanford@yahoo.com

  25. H.Wolters says:

    I have several years ago adopted a grave at the Margraten cemetery. The grave is from Harry Green, he served in the 513th PIR/ 17th Airborne division and he died of wounds on 03-apr-1945 at Buldern (Germany). Can anyone tell me more about the battle of Buldern and wich company or batalion Harry was serving.
    Any information is very welcome.
    Thank you.


  26. Kulow Kent (Kahabka) says:

    Anyone with any information on Sgt,George G. Kahabka KIA on March 24th 1945 near Wessel Germany. Assigned to the 513 P.I.R as far as I know.

  27. Joe Smith says:

    My Grandfather was a member of the 513 PIR Co. E, his name was Charles P. Smith. If anyone has any information on his service during the war I would appreciate it. My email is joe51319@yahoo.com

  28. Mario Arets says:

    I have several years ago adopted a grave at the Margraten cemetery in the Netherlands. The grave is from private James P. Page, he served in the 194th GLI PIR INF/ 17th Airborne division and he died on 24th of march 1945 at Kleve (Germany). Can anyone tell me more about James Page? Any information is very welcome.

    Thank you.


  29. JERRY LAKE says:

    Hello, I am looking for anyone that may have information about my father’s ww11 experience. He died in1971, was in the Army Airborne, probably the 17th, and served in the glider infantry during the Battle of the Bulge. His name was Ollie Lake and was about 27 years old at that time. thanks Jerry Lake

  30. Steve Unzueta says:

    Great site, I would like to hear from anyone who served with my dad, Leo Aragon. He died in 1970 as a result of his heavy drinking, trying to deal with his WWII experience. I have his badge -two stars. Probably Market Garden and Varsity. Thanks much.
    Steve Unzueta

  31. Eric Clark says:

    I have come across a silver coin/medallion that has the 17th Airborne on front. It’s about the size of a half dollar, it has no date or anything on it but it does have Central Europe and Rhineland on front as well as the eagle claw. on the back is parachute and glider emblems. and All The Way on it. I believe it has to do with Operation Varsity. If anyone has any clues as to what it is please contact me and i can send pictures of the piece. Thank you.

    • C Day says:

      Eric, Sounds as though you have a 17 A/B challenge coin. I can not give you any history or detail, but because it is white (as opposed to silver the metal) it may be older. All new challenge coins I have seen are a bronze color. Does it have a quality mark on it?

      • Eric Clark says:

        I can send you a picture of it, my email is ec1969.cb@gmail.com I don’t see a quality mark but im not sure where to look either. It is silver in color and rather heavy.

  32. richard madden says:

    The 17th ABN descendants have a Facebook page now the links is below. We are trying to find as many descendants as we can to check us out.


  33. Christine Conte says:

    My father was in the 17th Airborne Div., 194th GIR, Company E. I have two group pictures so let me know if you have a family member from that company. It has taken me months to find info about him (Frank Mitchell, Jr.) but it started for me with the book Thunder From Heaven in which I found his name and 194th GIR. My dad passed away in the 90s and NEVER discussed any wartime experiences with us. Good luck to anyone who is searching for a loved one.

    • Diane says:

      Will ask my Dad about knowing Frank Mitchell. Dad was with 194E GIR when went to Operation Varsity.

    • Crista says:

      My Grandpa was in the 194th gir Co E. I’d love to see those pictures.

      • B.R says:

        Christine…My grandfather was a lot like yours. He also served in the same unit as your father. I would appreciate if you would be able to share those photos as well.

  34. Mike C says:

    Looking for any info on my father Cpl Morris L Clark from Kentucky. He served with the 513th PIR in Germany and was a POW in Stalag 12A and 9B.

  35. Adam Grabill says:

    Looking for any info on my grandfather, William F. Grabill. He was in the 17th Airborne and was captured during Operation Varsity. Unfortunately, he died in 2007. I would like to know what regiment and battalion he was in. Thanks, Adam Grabill

    • Darrin Mason says:

      I hope you see this. I have info on your grandfather as I have researched the men who served in WW2 from Madison County, Ohio and your grandfather lived in Mt Sterling.
      Here is my email: dmason29@yahoo.com

      Darrin Mason

  36. Stan Anvik says:

    My father Elmer (Pug) Anvik served in the 194th of the 17th. I know for a fact that he particpated in the Bulge and fought on through the end of the war ending it close to the Elbe.

    Was not sure when exactly he began his service in the 17th and I THINK he might have been a transfer from the 82nd at some point but could be wrong about that.

    In any case, I am looking for ANY information about his service from some how might have known him. I’m very proud of him and all in the 17th who fought bravely and served with distinction during WWII.

    Thanks in advance

    Stan Anvik

  37. Kenneth Laczkowski says:

    My uncle was Joseph W Laczkowski, i think he was in the 513th PIR

    never met him, know he was KIA March 24th. Anyone with more info

    let me know

  38. Kenneth Laczkowski says:

    P.S. can be reached at Shardig82@juno.com. Any info would be

    greatly appreciated

  39. marika litzinger says:

    I am trying to find military photos for my boyfriend of his father. Pfc. Robert Wesley Robson of the 17th A/B division. He may also have been a glider.? All I have is Tom'(his son) father’s obit. and the little info in it. Tom says he was at Battle of the Bulge and I know he got injured on Jan. 15, 1945 in the back. Any info or pics would greatly be appreciated.

    Thank you & Thank all those who fought

  40. John T. Gerlosky says:

    Does anyone know of an Army After Action Report on Operation Varsity that Private Frank J. O’Rourke mentions in his statement concerning the Phantom Glider and lists what happened to each glider? I have searched the NARA website in vain and would appreciate any suggestions to finding this report.

    With kind regards,

    John T. Gerlosky
    CWO W3 USA Retired

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