After flying men of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment on one of the first waves over Normandy on the night of 6th June 1944 (D-Day) this C47 returned with 67 flak and small arms holes.
The plane was assigned to the crew of Lt Jesse Harrison and, patched up, it continued to fly resupply and medivac missions until taking part in the Market Garden operation on the 17th September 1944, dropping paratroops. The following day it pulled a glider to the drop zone but took such a buffeting from the turbulence that its cargo door was distorted and would not close. With his regular plane out of action on the 19th, Harrison took a replacement C47 (43-16030) to haul another glider. Hit by machine gun fire and ablaze he ordered the crew members in the rear to bail out while he and his co-pilot kept the burning plane in the air long enough to release his glider over the drop zone.
Harrison earned a Silver Star for his action but it cost him his flying career due to the severe burns. The two enlisted men, however, returned to combat and continued to fly in the repaired Urgin Virgin. Flying yet another of the many resupply missions on 17th October it crashed killing all on board. Crew chief Emilio Giacomin had made a fortuitous decision before take off that day. On board the plane while still on the tarmac, he exchanged his place to another man who wanted to get his flying pay.
My thanks for Neal Jackman whose father Emilio Giacomin had made that fortunate decision which saved his life.