June 6, 2004

Three years have passed since USAAF pilot Lew Johnston prepared this historical tribute to his brothers of 60 years ago. In those three years, thousands of the great generation have passed into history.  Our own group of 150 has saluted farewell to 38 of its own.

Distressed and frustrated by the distortions of the careless, and the profit-driven, he set upon a journey. The Destination once reached would enable all to see in the light of reality that the distortions, false myths, and ignorance surrounding the D-Day Troop Carrier Pilots, were and are simply untrue.

Like most of us, he is not a man of great financial means. He did not have at his disposal the resources to hire researchers, proof-readers, editors, and graphic artists. He has however been relentless. He has traveled, researched, written extensively at his own expense, to record for posterity, the deeds of those who were there, in that time, in that place called Normandy. There in a fog-shrouded night sky, ripped by murderous enemy fire.

And they were in another place as well. In that dreaded space, that combat pilots, refer to as low, slow and, behind the lines.  A deadly space that punishes all who would tempt its physics. There in that place they flew; wing-tip to window, tenaciously but blindly trying to hold pre-planned formations. Flying in those formations where one bad twitch on the controls would have sent them and their airborne charges caroming off one another before crumpling to earth in a flaming twisted mass of flesh and metal.

They had no speed. They had no altitude. They had neither armor nor armament. What they did have, was a desperately vital mission. A mission which was part of a crusade to rescue Europe from the insane madman who had enslaved a continent.  The successful deployment of their paratroopers was their charge at all costs. The survival of thousands depended upon their efforts. Going in, they flew for their airborne brothers.

Going home they flew for each other. They would not have had it any other way.

Few will know their names.  There will be no film contract, book deal, nor financial recompense, nor even the proverbial 15 minutes of fame.  But we, who were there, know Lew got it right,  just as our brothers did in June of 1944.  

He got it right for them.   

Lew Johnston's pages