History of 1st Troop Carrier Command Insignia

The symbol of the First Troop Carrier Command, which was created solely for training 30 April 1942. disbanded 4 Nov 1945

Command headquarters was Stout Field, Indianapolis, Indiana.

The words say: HE CONQUERS WHO GETS THERE FIRST

This is a digital scan of a rare unworn leather patch of the World War II First Troop Carrier Command insignia. It was created by Amy Holloway McMellen, a Civil Service employee in the print shop of the Sedalia Army Airfield, Knob Noster, Missouri in late 1942 or early 1943. It was, according to Amy, first slated for the cover of the airbase magazine The Flying Regulars.

Amy doesn’t know how it became a Troop Carrier symbol beyond that—and she wasn’t immediately aware that it had. One can only speculate now that the appropriateness of the symbol, and the clean lines of the design, caught the right person’s eye at the right time.

The patch shown here is part of a collection on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum on Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. 7/20/04

Recording historian: Lew Johnston 2665 Chestnut St. Apt 11 San Francisco CA 94123 (415) 567-4717

The Father of Troop Carrier Command: The Story of Lt. Colonel Ray Dunn, Self-Sealing Tanks and Armor Plate

By Randolph J. Hils

General Hap Arnold and the Air Staff responsible for the formation of the various types of Army Air Force units hadn't anticipated being assigned to moving the new airborne units. Through out 1941 the planners resisted suggestions of the need for large transport units or aircraft. As a result only two thousand of fifty thousand aircraft produced during 1942 were transports.

Lt. Colonel Ray Dunn was General Arnold's Executive Officer at the time just after Pearl Harbor and is described as an Arnold "protege". Arnold was reluctant to dedicate an Army Air Force command that would be tied exclusively to the new 82nd Airborne Division. It was Ray Dunn who used his authority while Arnold was away in Washington to change Air Transport Command into Troop Carrier Command. "Arnold returned and was indignant, but he couldn't abolish Dunn's creation now without looking stupid and without provoking a fight with the Army. The friendship between Arnold and Dunn, however, was over."

Dunn also was responsible for trying to get armor plate and self-sealing tanks. Seventy-five C-47s were modified before Arnold's deputy, Gen. Giles stopped the program citing reduced range due to the added weight. Dunn was sent to assume command of North African Air forces Troop Carrier Command (NAAF), beginning with training the new Troop Carrier Groups in England in the fall of 1942. When General Paul Williams assumed command of NAAF Troop Carrier Command, Dunn was moved to command the 51st TC Wing and promoted to brigadier general. General Williams relied on him as "the" expert on troop carrier.

Dunn apparently became the USAAF fall guy for the disaster of the "HUSKY" friendly fire losses by Troop Carrier. Hap Arnold tried to force him to leave the Army Air Force, failing that Ray Dunn was demoted to Lt. Colonel.

According to "WingedVictory", "The creator of Troop Carrier Command was banished to an Army general's staff in Hawaii and, in effect was out of the AAF for the rest of the war."

Source:

Perret, Geoffrey, Winged Victory: The Army Air Forces in WWII, Random House, 1993, 549 pages.

"THE GLIDER SQUADRON"
THE 38TH TROOP CARRIER SQUADRON

By Randolph J. Hils

The path to Troop Carrier glider training programs was as varied as the men and the places that they hailed from. To Gale Ammerman, an AT-6 trainer crew chief, the call for volunteers to glider pilot training represented an opportunity to fly that might never be offered again. Under far different circumstances, John Lowden was shanghaied after washing out of power pilot training. Lowden was motivated to join the glider pilot program by an enterprising officer who gave him the choice of inventorying endless mounds of army blankets in a hot warehouse for the balance of his career or, "volunteering" for glider pilot training. No matter where a man came from or how he came to be a glider pilot in the ETO, it was likely that eventually his path led to the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 1st Troop Carrier Command, the "Glider Squadron."

Unsung in any theater history and little known as training units usually are, the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron, (TCS) trained glider pilots in tactical combat flying between February 1942 and April 1944. Gale Ammerman and John Lowden were first assigned to South Plains Army Flying School in Lubbock, Texas for primary glider training. Additionally, the two completed another twelve-week course of Ranger infantry training at Bowman Field near Louisville, Kentucky. It fell to the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron to translate and turn in to training programs, use of completely new equipment and operational procedures that were developed from the experimentation of the secretive Glider Branch. The Glider Squadron's operations were carried out at Camp Mackall and Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base in North Carolina.

The most unique and challenging glider operation taught by the 38th TCS was the pick-up of a fully loaded glider from the ground by a flying power aircraft, "the snatch." The squadron was the first to put into practice pioneering experimental work by All-American Aviation Inc., Material Command, AAF, Dayton, Ohio and the Glider Branch at Clinton County Army Airfield, Wilmington, Ohio.

Battlefield conditions demonstrated that the standard glider tow take-off had it's limitations and the new imaginative pick-up or "snatch" system offered a number of advantages under adverse conditions. Gliders and personnel could be retrieved from conditions unfavorable to the landing of a C-47 tow plane. Gliders could be retrieved and delivered ready to perform again saving man hours and material required to disassemble and transport a glider back from the battlefield. Most importantly the evacuation of seriously wounded could be accomplished in record time from places where it would be impossible to land a plane.

Pre-war glider pioneer and AAF experimental glider test pilot Lt. Chester J. Decker joined the 38th TCS in November 1943 to teach the proper methods of glider snatch. Early on the program was handicapped because of a lack of C-47s equipped with the 900-pound pick-up unit. To overcome the handicap a dummy pick-up boom was constructed from a 20-foot pine tree and used for simulated pick-ups from a flying C-47. A high degree of skill was required for a power pilot to hit the pick-up station that which resembled a football goal post. Not until January 1944 was there sufficient snatch equipped C-47s available and intensive training was underway. Among the pilots first trained in glider snatch were pilots from the 1st Provisional Group, 60th Troop Carrier Wing, and the 349th, 442nd 441st and 10th Troop Carrier Groups.

In a Historical Report from the squadron for February and March 1944, the squadron Historical Officer, Capt. Robert Siren described the glider retrieval operation:

"The pick-up procedure, itself, is fairly simple. The glider, to be snatched, remains at rest in a position facing into the wind. A rope attached to the glider angles off to the right and extends outward 225 feet. A nylon loop with the circumference of 80 feet supported by two 12-foot poles approximately 22 feet apart is attached to the end of the 225-foot rope. The plane swoops down on the starboard side of the glider at a speed determined by the weight of the glider and the condition of the ground. A wooden-arm guides the rope onto the hook and the hook unclips from the arm. The hook is attached to1050 feet of 3/8" flexible cable and is wound around the drum in the pickup unit installed in the C-47. The cable pay out is resisted by a set of multiple disk brakes which gradually and smoothly accelerates the glider to the speed of the tow plane. The glider usually ends its acceleration period in seven or eight seconds and 600 or 700 feet behind the plane. The pick-up unit is equipped with a motor to wind in the cable when the occasion requires."

Between November 1943 and April 1944 at least 500 pick-ups were accomplished by the 38th TCS. In conjunction with the Airborne training at Ft. Bragg after the December 1943 maneuver 55 gliders were retrieved by snatching, and 76 more with the January maneuvers. Another 16 pick-ups were initiated in various areas and 55 were snatched from the WACO factory in Troy, Ohio as opposed to the much more expensive method of disassembly, crating and shipping the new gliders. It should be noted that during the time the 38th trained glider and power pilots in the art of the snatch, no serious injuries were reported to either pilots or equipment. The safety record stands as testament to the expertise of the unit.

The practicality of combat glider medical evacuation snatch was dramatically demonstrated for the first time in the European Theater with two CG-4A gliders that were flown into the Remagen Bridgehead on the Rhine loaded with medical supplies. The pontoon bridges across the Rhine were jammed with supply trucks headed for the front and another method was desperately needed to evacuate the seriously wounded held up in the area. Lt. Col. Robert Burquist, the 9th Troop Carrier Command Chief Surgeon learned the snatch technique to evacuate wounded had been accomplished in the Far East and ordered two gliders be equipped as air ambulances. Rigged with stretchers for the retrieval, on March 22, 1945 medical supplies were delivered then the wounded were loaded aboard. The first of two gliders were snatched from the ground by a C-47 from the 439th Troop Carrier Group and later that day the second was snatched by a C-47 from the 441st Troop Carrier Group. The wounded soldiers accompanied by a doctor and nurse were delivered to a rear area hospital in France in less than thirty minutes. Major Howard Cloud of Headquarters, 9th Troop Carrier Command expertly piloted the first glider, landing the CG-4A right up to the entrance to the surgical tent. The same evacuation by ambulance would have taken hours.

The 38th could also claim the distinction of the first unit to snatch a huge British Horsa glider with a C-47. The first Horsa came to the 38th at Camp Mackall North Carolina for experimentation and training in October of 1943. Lt. Col. Mike Murphy was the first member of the unit to fly the Horsa. Murphy then qualified 2nd Lt. Julian Hall on the big British Glider and Hall was assigned as the Horsa Instructor. Hall certified 30 glider pilots as Horsa First Pilots and gave hundreds of glider pilots familiarization rides as additional Horsas were assigned to the unit. Piloting the Horsa for the first attempt to snatch the large glider, Lt. Hall commented after the event that it was the "smoothest pick-up I ever flew."

For a little over two years the officers an men of the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron trained thousands of glider pilots in tactical combat flying. The testing and new training programs affected thousands more who would never know of the work done by the 38th. The Airborne Glider Infantry units, the lives saved by speedy medical evacuations, the critical re-supply of the 101st at Bastogne, hundreds of lesser known missions of were accomplished, in part, by the expert training of troop carrier aircrews at the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron, 1st Troop Carrier Command's "Glider Squadron."

Bibliography

Ammerman, Gale R. An American Glider Pilot's Story, Vermont: Merriam Press, 2001.
Day, Charles L. Silent Ones WWII Invasion Glider Test Experiment Clinton County Army Field, Wilmington, Ohio, Minnesota: Charles L. Day, 2001.
Lowden, John L. Silent Wings at War: Combat Gliders in World War II, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
Young, Charles H. Into the Valley: The Untold Story of the USAAF Troop Carrier in WWII, Texas: PrintComm Inc., 1995
____History of the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron February 1942 to April 1944, USAAF document.
____Historical Report For Months Of February & March, 1944, by Robert Siren, Captain, Air Force Historical Officer, Headquarters, 38th Troop Carrier Squadron, AAF, Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base.

The Vision: D-Day Normandy


By Michael N. Ingrisano, Jr.
37th Troop Carrier Squadron
316th Troop Carrier Group

On the evening of 5-6 June 1944, the 316th Troop Carrier Group took off from its base in Cottesmore, England, carrying paratroopers from the 505th Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division. The 44th Troop Carrier Squadron, along with the 45th TCS, led the Group in Serial 17. The 37th and the 36th followed in Serial 18. I was the radio operator on aircraft serial number 43-15510, chalk number 50. The crew on our plane was Lt. William Prindible, pilot, Lt. John Harmonay, copilot, Tech/Sgt. Cletus Carmean, crew chief, and Sgt. Mike Ingrisano. Each squadron had held its final briefing at 2045 hours, and crews then reported to their planes. In his pre-flight warm-up, Lt. Prindible did a quick calculation on the weight of the load on the plane. In addition to the loaded parapacks on the belly of the aircraft, there was a parachuted skid near the open back door which

…consisted of the breech lock and carriage of the airborne artillery piece in usage at that time, 75mm, I think, plus 200 lbs. of ammunition. This ammunition was in addition to what was in the four parapack bundles underneath the aircraft. The whole skid weighed either 600 or 800 lbs. (I can’t remember exactly) in a . . . compartment limited to 80 lbs.! I vaguely remember a load in the vicinity of 8,000 lbs. on D-Day, [vastly more than what we called] the ‘Maximum Military Gross Overload.’
I reported the overweight to our operations officer only to be told that it was too late to change the lash-up since all the artillery drops were loaded that way and we were going to have to make the best of it and make it work.
In anticipation of an unstable condition on takeoff, John [Harmonay], and I devise a plan: trim tab full forward, both of us pushing and holding the control column full forward, trying to hold the aircraft on the ground as long as possible to generate enough speed to control the aircraft prior to takeoff. As you know, takeoff runways were assigned well in advance due to traffic from other surrounding airstrips and ours turned out to be downwind/crosswind.

Using the combined skills of this 19-year old pilot and his 20 year old copilot, we left the ground at approximately 2300 hours “…at about 70 to 75 mph, the aircraft attempted to turn into the wind and we headed for the hanger line. Scattered a lot of the ‘sweaters’ [ground personnel watching the Group leave] that night! We finally nursed the plane around and gained speed and proper control and joined the formation.”

The weather was clear and visibility unlimited to a point about two miles past check point “Peoria” where clouds were encountered with a base about 800 feet, ceiling 1,500 feet. The 316th was able to climb over it without losing formation. Once past the cloud bank, the Group dropped below the base where visibility was clear and unlimited. It broke the spatial attitude it had maintained throughout the flight as the planes leveled off to approximately 700 feet and slowed down to 110 mph “tail high” to give the paratroopers the best possible drop.

Although I had been overseas since August 1943, and had flown many supply and personnel missions while based in Egypt, North Africa, and Sicily, this was my and my crew’s first combat mission. As we approached the coast of France it appeared to be aflame with flak and small arms fire. Needless to say, I was frightened.

I moved across the narrow aisle to the position normally occupied by a navigator. Since we were in a wing position, we had no navigator on board. I looked out the small window which the navigator would have used for ground navigation. I saw the many Allied ships offshore awaiting the signal to begin the seaborne assault.

Then my vision was distracted by a brilliant light shining near the tip of our left wing. As I looked more closely, I saw the image of Bette, my fiancée, dressed in white, sitting near the wing tip. She was perfectly visible, and remarkably calm. She looked at me and said. “Mike, don’t worry. You’ll be OK.” We completed our mission, dropped our troops on DZ “O”, northwest of Ste. Mere Eglise. That is all I could recall about that mission but the thought of that vision haunted me to the point that I was not sure that I had experienced it. I never spoke of it to my comrades because I did not want to be the butt of their jokes.

During my 21-month overseas service, I wrote Bette some 343 letters. And because of the security and censorship, I was unable to tell her of my experience. She kept all my letters. On July 5, 1944, I wrote:

…if I could just put it into words. My story of God’s kindness, to make me realize our future. Damn this censorship. It is nothing wrong, Darling…Since I cannot paint any picture, I can tell you that your name, you and everything about you was my guiding star, my guardian angel. Save this letter, Darling, save it. Never lose it. I need it to put into words, to substitute, what I felt. Believe me, my Love, if you could have my mind for an hour, you would never doubt me…

[On October 15, 1944]…There have been two occasions…that I have spoken your name and wanted you near to me badly. Once you came to me in Ft. Wayne [just before I went overseas]…The other was in the midst of Hell breaking loose. I uttered your name; you could not reach me but your image did and I felt a peace that eliminated all my fears.”

In all my missions, I escaped unharmed. Our plane took our share of hits in combat but none of the crew was injured. After forty years of marriage, Bette died of cancer in 1985. Two weeks after her death, in a dream, I was visited by my brother, Ted, who had died of heart failure on Mother’s Day, 1982. He merely said: “Mike, Bette is OK. She’s with the family.”

******************

If you wish to read the complete stories, both books, VALOR WITHOUT ARMS, A History of the 316th Troop Carrier Group, 1942-1945, and NOTHING IS SAID: Wartime Letters, August 5, 1943-April 21, 1945 are available from my stock. FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO ORDER, CLICK HERE.

An American Glider Pilot's Story


by Gale R. Ammerman

This is one man's story of flying the combat glider in World War 2, learning to fly small powered airplanes, glider flying, and training to be an effective combat soldier once the glider lands on the field of battle. The author flew the British Horsa glider in OVERLORD, the D- Day mission to liberate Fortress France; he flew the American CG4A glider in the MARKET GARDEN [A Bridge too Far] mission to Holland; and the CG-4A in VARSITY, the Rhine River crossing at Wessel, Germany.


Flight Officer Gale R. Ammerman, Glider Pilot

Ammerman was a crew chief on Advanced Trainers, the AT-6 at Maxwell Field, Alabama when he volunteered to be a glider pilot in July of 1942. He was sent to Spencer, Iowa where he learned to fly small 65 horse powered Aeronica Chiefs, Taylor Crafts, and Piper Cubs. Later on in this phase of training the engines were shut down as dead-stick landings were practiced.


The CG -4A Glider

From Spencer, Iowa Ammerman was posted to Lubbock, Texas where flying CG-4A combat gliders, was mastered. Assigned to the 81st Squadron of the 436th Troop Carrier Group it was on to Laurenburg-Maxton Airbase, North Carolina where training in the CG-4A started in earnest.

The author describes landing a CG- 4A with a broken right horizontal-stabilizer. This incident gives the reader a feel for the thought processes and reflexes involved as the pilot lands the damaged aircraft. With the pilot you will feel the rush of adrenaline during the landing and later the effects of shock as the young pilot realizes that his life hung on an instant. You will sweat out a snatch of a glider as the C-47 thunders down over the glider and hooks the glider off the ground from a stand still. The sudden acceleration takes the pilot and craft from zero to 120 miles per hour seconds.

On OVERLORD, D- Day of the Normandy Invasion you are in the cockpit with Gale and his friend, Billy Hart as they attempt to land a British Horsa glider loaded with nearly four tons of ammunition. Their load is destined for the troops of the 82'nd Airborne Division. With these two young pilots, experience their horror when they realize that bullets have punctured the pressure tanks which that actuate the flaps and brakes of the huge glider. The damaged glider comes in too high, too fast and it is a wild ride as the glider thunders across the field and slams into the trees of a hedgerow.


A Horsa Glider provides some shade for Norman cows.

The next campaign, MARKET GARDEN, Gale Ammerman describes the suspense of flying a heavily loaded glider through nearly impossible weather over the English Channel on his way to the landing zone in Holland as the tow plane disappears completely from sight. Marvel at the courage of the C- 47 tow pilot as he continues directly over the center of the designated landing zone near Zon, Holland even though a large stream of high-explosive fluid pouring out of the right wing of his airplane. As the glider pilots are in contact with the C-47 pilot by way of a telephone line running along the glider tow rope they are all aware of the incredible danger to both craft but the crews complete the mission which is critical to the airborne troops fighting below.


View from a C-47 of gliders in tow.

The story climaxes with the transportation of the17th Airborne Division across the Rhine River at Wessel, Germany in a mission called VARSITY. You will feel the helplessness that the pilot's experience as black puffs of anti-aircraft fire stalk the glider across the sky over the Rhine. You will agonize with the pilots as they try to figure out the best way to get the airborne troopers onto the ground alive and ready to fight. You will weep at the terrible loss of young men in the morning of their lives. The Rhine crossing was by far the most deadly of all the glider operations in the European Theater of Operations. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND ORDERING CLICK HERE.

"STIL"

Boredom was always an enemy of morale among the soldiers stationed overseas. Two forms of entertainment, art and music stand out as favorite past times and pursuits. The 440th was graced with one of the best dance bands in the ETO, the Serenaders, and one of the finest cartoonists in England. Simply known as Stil to the boys, he plied his trade around Exeter and the Troop Carrier airmen often became the subjects of his humor. A collection of his cartoons was published in 1944, Any Gum-Chum? An English Cartoonist's Impression of the Yanks in Britain.

"Only Sissies Need Engines"

Now only Sissies need engines,
A real man needs only the air,
Now soaring on high like an eagle,
We glide with never a care.

You can have your high-powered "cyclones,"
And your liquid cooled "Allisons," too,
But give me a handful of thermals,
And a quick thunderstorm or two.

A bomber needs two miles to land in,
A glider needs sixty-five feet,
And a fighting plane lands at two hundred,
A glider lands slowly and sweet.

Now, I’ve got no use for a motor,
A true one may seldom be found,
For they’re temp’ramental and vicious,
They lo-ve to just "let you down."

Oh! Give me a fast gliding glider,
With wings long and graceful and thin,
Set me loose in the air over Dover,
And we’ll win in the streets of Berlin.

We’ll go in some dark, moonless evening,
With jeeps and a six-by-six truck,
Close in with some sixty Commandos,
And aided by God and good luck.

Now after we capture Herr Hitler,
And have Goering sewed up in a sack,
There’s only one question un-answered,
"How in the hell are we gonna get back!"

Ed. Note: These verses were written to Capt. William Lazarus by his class when he made the remark that, "Only Sissies Need Motors."

Page 81, Air Forces Airs, 1943; (Taken from: Wrap Me Up In My Tarpaulin Jacket, Glider Verses, 1942)

Courtesy of Christine Krebs Goyer.