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Aircrew for Operation Varsity ©

Brian N. Siddall

EQS Press

2006

First Edition

Ithaca, New York

 

Foreword

 

This book is dedicated to the men of the 507th PIR and the Airmen who flew them.

Contained in these pages are the jump rosters for the entire 507th PIR and the Air Corps crews who flew them for Operation Varsity. This was their jump into Germany on March 24, 1945.

 

In a report given on March 27, 1945 1st Lt. John Carr Jr. stated that Aircraft number 42-24102 peeled off from the formation, made a 180 degree turn that went into a vertical dive. He thought the plane had pulled out of the dive, but this turned out not to be true. This plane crashed with all onboard except for the jumpmaster of this stick, 1st Lt. Ben Carollo. He jumped just as the plane went into a vertical dive, and survived the Rhineland campaign and was awarded his CIB (Combat Infantrymanís Badge).

 

I found his family just two days before the 61st anniversary of Operation Varsity. He had

two daughters and a son. His son Dwight told me that his father, when he did speak of the war always had survivorís guilt that he was the lone man to escape the burning plane. The ultimate tragedy of this story is that Ben Carollo developed Multiple Sclerosis in the early 1960ís and died from it in 1991. Dwight remembers his father stating that the other men should have survived instead of him.

 

18 men died in the crash of plane 42-24102, chalk number 71. This was a stick of Machine Gun platoon men of Headquarters Company Second Battalion. There were 5 veterans from the Normandy Jump in the stick. They were S/Sgt.ís John Staar and Edmund Moore, Sgt. Murry Marshall, Pfc.ís Eugene Letourneau and Harvey Nugent. The other paratroopers who died that day were S/Sgt. Leonard Brooks, Pfc.ís Joseph Davanzo, Darrell Payne and Clyde Bowden, Pvt.ís , Stephen Parker, Bruno Arcangeli, Fabian Villalobos, Marion Green and Arlan Hudson.

 

The men of the US Army Air Corps who died were the Pilot 1st Lt. Donald Sundby, Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Paul Fort, Crew Chief T/Sgt. James King and Radio Operator S/Sgt. George Paul. They are pictured on the back inside cover in that order from left to right in front of their plane.  What is interesting about this story is the fact it has already been told, albeit incorrectly. In the mini-series Band of Brothers, while stationed in Germany, Captain Lewis Nixon is assigned to jump as an observer fors Operation Varsity.

 

Captain Nixon jumped with the 17th Airborne, 507th PIR. After he returns to 506th Battalion HQ, he has a heated discussion with Major Dick Winters. Captain Nixon states to Winters that only one or two other men made it out of his stick before the plane  exploded. While Nixon was in Stick 72, in reality it was stick 71 that went down. I have spoken with Carl Jones who was in Stick 72 and he was the one who informed me that the plane next to his went down. After further research I was able to determine that Stick 71 was the ill-fated plane.

 

Iím sure that Captain Nixon thought it was his plane that went down, after his chute opened he probably looked down and saw a plane explode on impact and made the assumption that it was his plane. Well that, and Hollywood taking a little creative license as well.

 

 

Thank You,

Brian Siddall

March 30, 2006

 
 

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