C-47 "Ride-Along"


"Airborne Experience"

We are now able to offer a new "ride-along" Airborne experience. Individuals will be allowed to go "Airborne" along with jump team members on a C47 flight.  Hear and feel what it's like to ride in a WWII vintage aircraft and watch the troops dressed in WWII uniforms and equipment "Stand Up & hook Up".

To learn more about this opportunity contact us at: operations_@_wwiiadt.org










 Vane M Lawson

 Born:                            16 Jan 1920

Enlistment date:            November 1942

Deployments:                Europe

Units:                             36th Troop Carrier squadron, 316th Troop Carrier Group, Troop Carrier Wing, 9th Air Force

Rank:                            Sergeant

Specialisations:             Crew Chief

Qualifications:              Aircraft Mechanics/Engineer

Decorations:                  EAME Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation

Discharge Date:            September 1945

Other Information:        Vane enlisted in November 1942 and embarked on a brief basic training program in California for three weeks. Following basic, he moved to Nebraska to begin a five month airplane mechanic school followed by further training at the Douglas Long Beach plant in California where he trained specifically on the Douglas C-47.


After this training  Vane was on the move again, this time to Fort Benning, Georgia to undergo further training, this time with the inclusion of airborne troops. From here, he transferred to Mississippi to undergo more training with the crew he would travel overseas with, before moving to Fort Wayne, Indiana where his unit received a brand new C-47 and prepared for overseas duty. Vane’s crew were destined to head for Europe and they began the long flight by air by heading to Florida and the South America. This southern route was used by most of the C-47 crews and the journey would take them via Brazil to Africa and then north to England and it typically took 18 to 20 days to make this journey.   

When he got to England, which was in March of 1944, his group of squadrons, he was based on an airfield about 90 miles north of London, Cottesmore. This group had been in an African desert with a British army for about a year and a half so they were well seasoned and he joined his squadron as a replacement as they were building up the squadron’s strength for the upcoming invasion of mainland Europe. Originally, they had 13 planes and were building it up to 22 planes in each squadron. He trained hauling paratrooper and glider, and at the time of the Normandy invasion on D-day, he hauled paratroopers into Normandy the night before the sea-landings on D-Day. His squadron had no casualties and lost no planes; others were not so lucky.


After D-Day he hauled freight for 2 or 3 months. His plane carried about 5,000 lbs of freight. When the army divisions were crossing France he hauled supplies to them about every day. He hauled everything imaginable; supplies included food, clothing, ammunition and gasoline. They hauled gasoline in 5 gallon cans.


In September 1944 he took part in the allied airborne invasion of The Netherlands. Again, Vane hauled paratroopers and gliders into Holland. When he pulled gliders into The Netherlands his unit caught a lot more anti-aircraft fire. The Germans, evidently, were lying in wait for them around the drop zone than they saw in Normandy. They lost five airplanes close to the drop zone on the mission one of which was the plane that was flying next to Vane. They also shot down the glider his plane was pulling.


After Operation Market Garden, Vane and his crew went back to hauling freight and extracting wounded and prisoners. Then came the Battle of The Bulge, where he once again, Vane hauled anti-tank guns, ammunition and other materiel up to the front lines.  At Christmas time he hauled freight, was gone for 4 or 5 days, missing his 3 day pass.  He continued hauling freight all winter. One thing about it, the air crews got to see a lot of different places across northern Europe. He flew into Paris, Brussels and a lot of cities across northern Europe. He would fly down to southern England where they kept most of the depots, load up and fly to their specified destination. They'd stay all night there at the depot and the next day they would fly over to the continent to France, Belgium, or The Netherlands. They continued to do this until almost the end of the War.


Toward the end of the war, 4 or 5 weeks before the end of the war, they moved over to France to a new base at Amiens, which is about 50 miles northeast of Paris but some weeks later the war came to an end. The aircrews hoped that they would fly home to the USA, but when their time came, they put the whole group on a boat and moved sailed to Trinidad. Vane remained behind to help change engines on some of the C-47s and so about a week after the rest of the squadron, he was flown to Trinidad, arriving a few days before the ship. They remained in Trinidad for 4 or 5 months. The idea to start with was to haul the troops back from Europe by plane and ship them to the Pacific. But they could only haul about 25 or 30 at a time, so after 2 or 3 weeks they gave that up and brought the troops back by boat. The remainder of their time was really spent waiting to be discharged. There was little productive to do and each day they just went down to the hangar and played pinochle all day-just something to pass the time away.


By the end of September they flew part of the group back to the states and started discharging the men. Vane wound up in Leavenworth, Kansas. That's where he had been inducted into the army and he got his discharge the last day of September 1945.