World War II Glider Pilots to Reunite in Fayetteville, North Carolina

An easy and cost-effective way to move light infantry and their equipment, to include some that were too heavy for the parachutes of the day, glider-borne air landing units were in vogue during WWII. The Germans kicked off their combat use when eight gliders full of specially-trained sappers landed atop the supposedly impregnable Belgian fortress at Eben Emael in May 1940 and captured it by lunch.

The U.S. Army’s Glider Forces were established in 1942 and, after a lot of trial and error, a full two- and later three-battalion Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) or two was assigned to each American airborne division.

In all, 13 GIRs were formed with many seeing heavy combat. These included the 187th and 188th GIR (11th Abn Div), 325th (82nd Abn), 193rd and 194th (17th Abn), 327th and 401st (101st Abn).

Some 13,900 Waco CG-4, the standard U.S. glider, were produced during the war and were smaller than the British Horsa and Hamilcar gliders. Capable of carrying 13 troops and their equipment, they could also tote a jeep or 75mm pack howitzer in the nose. Today, only about 25 CG-4s still exist.

After seeing action in Europe and the Pacific, gliders were eliminated from the Army in 1953, as the military switched to helicopters for “air assault”

However, veterans of those Glidermen still survive.

(Presser from the FACVB):

Men who flew on silent wings to deliver troops, weapons, and supplies in key points on the World War II front are coming to the Fayetteville, North Carolina area in October to reunite and remember those harrowing moments in the battle against tyranny across the globe.

The 49th Annual National World War II Glider Pilot Reunion (WW2GPC) is coming to Fayetteville October 10 – 12th. The reunion will join Glider pilots and several veterans from the various Troop Carrier groups including power pilots, other C-47 crew members, mechanics, as well as family members and historians. Approximately 125 veterans, members, researchers and flight officers from the Air Force Academy will be attending. The event will take place at the Doubletree by Hilton in Fayetteville.

Events throughout the conference include tours of Fort Bragg and dinner and presentations on post two evenings. The conference concludes with a dinner banquet at the hotel Saturday evening, with Lt. Col. Stewart Lindsay, Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, as guest speaker.

Part of the evening’s presentations will include Katharine Manning, daughter of Glider Pilot John George Manning, accepting her father’s long overdue Bronze Star Medal (BSM.) BSM recipients were to have been awarded the medal in 1945 as requested by their commander Major Charles Gordon, of the 435th Troop Carrier Group.

Approximately 6,000 individuals were trained as glider pilots. The numbers of surviving glider pilots and troop carriers are declining as the age range is over 90 years old. The glider pilots are proud of their silver wings with the large letter “G” which they say, really stands for GUTS. It took guts to fly the glider beyond enemy lines on a one-way mission.

Veterans will be available to speak with the media and share stories from World War II. Please contact Mary Roemer, Reunion Chair 336-655-6607 about setting up media opportunities on Friday and Saturday. Contact Ms. Roemer or navigate to https://www.ww2gp.org/reunion.php for more information.

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