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
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.