Meet our Veterans
Trip Start May 27, 2009
28Trip End Jun 11, 2009
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Allison "Doc"Blaney: Doc hails from Natick, MA and served with the 326th Medical Battalion of the 101st. He has 2 combat jumps at Normandy and Holland, he served in Korea and retired from the Army just before Vietnam.
Howard Comstock: Howard lives in St. Louis and served with the 504th of the 82nd. He has 3 combat jumps in Sicily, Salerno and Holland. He started his service with the 505 but after an appendectomy he missed Normandy and was assigned the 504th. On the jump in Holland, Howard's job was to take and hold the Grave Bridge which we visited.
Robert Dickson: Robert is a good old boy from Belleville, AR. He was with the 319th Glider Regiment of the 82nd. He made 2 glider landings at Normandy and Holland. He also went through the Battle of the Bulge
Walter Elliot: Walt is from Palm Beach, FL and fought his way with both the 551st and the 504nd of the 82nd. Walt jumped with the 551st in Southern France. He was one of only a handful of survivors at the Bulge and was folded into the 504th.
Robert Herriot: Robert is from Friendship, WI. Robert fought with 327th Glider Regiment of the 101st. Robert's glider pilot and co-pilot were killed by shrapnel in the landing at Normandy and Robert had to land the glider. He was able to bring it down and landed it tail up in a ditch. All his men got out unharmed.
Howard Huebner: Howard is also from Florida and fought with the 507th and the 505th of the 82nd. He jumped at Normandy but missed his drop zone by about 5 miles.
Alvern "Bud" Hultman: Bud is from Havasu Lake, CA and fought with the 507th of the 82nd. This was is first time back to Europe since the war and he brought his daughter, her husband, and his two grandchildren. He jumped at Normandy.
Tom Kennedy: Tom is from Columbus, GA and fought with the 506th of the 101st. He was with F Co and had a jump in Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He fought next to and knows many of the E Co. men from Band of Brothers fame.
Ernst "Ernie" Lamson: Ernie is from St. Paul, MN and was with the 508th of the 82nd. He missed Normandy due to being injured in a training jump. He has been involved in the 82nd Division Association for years.
Leonhard "Len" Keck: Len is from Lancaster, PA and was with the 504th of the 82nd. Len was a replacement and arrived with the 504th after the start of the Holland Campaign. He was captured near Hitdorf, Germany and was a POW for about a week until he convinced his captors to surrender to him and his men. Len originally hails from Germany and speaks fluent German which is probably why he was able to talk his captors into the surrender.
Jim Norene: Jim was with the G Co of the 502nd of the 101st. Jim was from Oregon and jumped at Normandy and fought with the 502 in the Battle of the Bulge. His regiment was positioned around Champs and Longchamps and his last picture was taken at the 502nd Monument
Arthur "Art" Petersen: Art is from Santa Barbara, CA and was the 101st Division, 506th PIR. Art jumped at Normandy and Holland and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. At his jump in Holland he was hit in the plane and was told by his Sgt to stay in the plane. After everyone jumped, the co pilot came back through and told Art to jump cause the plane was going down so he did. One of the first people he saw from his stick was his Sgt. Who asked him what the hell he jumped. He told his Sgt. the place went down. He was also wounded twice in the leg.
Don Rutter: Don hails from Bernville, PA and was with the 505th of the 82nd. Don has 3 combat jumps including Sicily, Salerno and Normandy. Don was doing recon after Normandy and spent quite a bit of time with General James Gavin. Some time after Normandy, Don was captured 3 times and escaped 3 times. He spent some time at a labor camp rebuilding enemy rail lines. On his last escape, he ran into a German Officer who ran a prison camp and he wanted to surrender his troops to Don. Don escorted the German Colonel back to American lines then took a truck back to the prison camp to pick up the Colonel's men, but they had left already
Eugene Sylvester: Eugene fought with the 507th of the 82nd and hails from Melbourne, FL. Eugene jumped in Normandy and was wounded shortly after.
Joe Viserta: Joe is a New Yorker through and through. He fought with both 551st and the 504th of the 82nd. Joe and Walt were together in the war and Joe was also folded into the 504th at Bastogne.
Ray Wilson: Ray is from Jackson, TN and fought with the 508th of the 82nd. Ray has both jumps in Normandy and Holland and received the Silver Star during the Battle of the Bulge.
Daryle Whitfield: Daryle is another good old boy from Prentis, MS. Daryle is our only 4 jump veteran. He was with the 505th of the 82nd and has jumps in Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland. Daryle was wounded in Italy and Holland by mortars both times. Daryle was the stick pusher on the same plane as John Steele (John was the man who was hung up on the church in Saint Mere Eglise at the Normandy jump). Daryle landed about a mile outside of St. Mere and a field. We walked some of the same ground that Daryle fought on in Holland when we were at the small park in Nijmegen just off the Waal River Bridge.
And last but not least, we were joined by Barbara Gavin-Fauntleroy. Barbara is General James Gavin's daughter. General Gavin was the CO of the 82nd Airborne during WWII. She has published a book of the letters that her father wrote her during the war. She autographed my copy for me.