On June 6th, 1944, 13,100 paratroopers from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions dropped into Occupied France, departing their C-47 aircraft from roughly 700 feet above the French countryside.
To these men, Europe owes it's liberty today. The world owes them it's gratitude.
800 C-47 aircraft were required to lift them all over there and land them where they needed to be. 800 aircraft trying to fly in marginal weather, with no radios or radar, and often without even a trained navigator aboard. It's a miracle that so many of them made it. Not all did.
And just recently, researchers discovered the C-47 that led all the rest over the English Channel that morning. C-47 s/n#42-92847, with the message "That's all, Brother" painted on it's nose as a message for Hitler, was the lead plane that morning, carrying a belly full of 101st Airborne troops.
After the war, 42-928427 disappeared in the surplus sale market. No one knew what it had done or where it had been, and it passed through 16 civilian owners before it finally wound up in an airplane scrap yard in Wisconsin. There, a company was planning to strip the airframe and convert it to a turboprop cargo hauler for use overseas, and the aircraft was just weeks away from this fate when it was tracked down by researchers and it's conversion was halted. Now, the Commemorative Air Force is trying to buy this piece of history to restore it to it's original D-Day configuration and fly it around the country so that people today can experience a little bit of what it was like on that morning in 1944.
They've got a kickstarter campaign going now to raise the money needed to purchase this aircraft from the salvage yard. I'm throwing a few bucks their way. If you've got a dollar or two to spare, I'd be hard pressed to recommend a better use for it.
Save That's All, Brother.
And bless the men who flew her and the boys who flew on her enroute to saving Europe and defeating the Nazis.