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










 Louis J Venditti

 Born:                             May 1922                   

Enlistment date:            November 1942         

Deployments:                Europe

Units:                             HQ Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Rank:                            Captain

Specialisations:             Paratrooper, Pathfinder

Qualifications:              Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Wings

Decorations:                  Silver Star, Bronze Star, EAME Theater Medal with 2 Bronze Arrowheads and 4 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster,  French Legion of Honor, Belgian Croix de Guerre, French Fourragère, Belgian Fourragère, Netherlands Orange Lanyard

Discharge Date:            28 October 1945

Other Information:        Louis Venditti was born in Chicago and grew up in the Hungry Hill neighborhood of Chicago Heights. He attended Bloom Township High School and was working in a factory that manufactured landing mats for airfields in the South Pacific when he was drafted into the Army in November 1942.

Venditti completed basic training at Camp Beale, Calif., and was attached to the 13th Armored Division. He learned how to drive everything from a motorcycle to a tank.

When two new airborne divisions were being formed, and when officers came around asking for interested men, Venditti volunteered, saying, "Sure, I want to jump out of an airplane!"  So Lou was shipped on to Fort Benning, Ga., where he learned the ins and outs of parachuting.

In the winter of 1943, Venditti boarded a crowded troop ship, crossed the rough North Atlantic Ocean and landed in Liverpool, England with the 101st Airborne and began  preparing for an invasion of Fortress Europe.  His training continued until the end of May, when Venditti learned that the Normandy invasion was his objective and, as a paratrooper, he would be among the first men in, jumping behind enemy lines.

The night of June 5, 1944, the paratroopers geared up and boarded their planes. General Dwight Eisenhower came around to each plane and talked to the men as long as he could before takeoff.

It took almost two hours for the 500 planes from the 101st and the 500 planes from the 82nd Airborne Divisions to get into formation. Instead of flying across the English Channel, the planes headed over the Atlantic Ocean to sneak in and attack the Germans from behind.

They ran into a fog bank as they reached the French coast, and when they came out, the low-flying planes were detected by the enemy. They were hit with all types of artillery: anti-aircraft guns, machinegun fire and small-arms fire.

Just off to his right, Venditti saw a plane get hit and spiral downward. The jumpmaster told the men to stand up, hook up and prepare to jump in case their plane was hit. Nearing his jump zone, Venditti parachuted right after midnight under gunfire all the way down.  He landed in a field surrounded by hedgerows. "That kind of protected me a little bit," he recalls. He peered through the darkness and discovered that nothing looked like the maps and photos he studied in England.

Venditti spotted movement, thought it was the enemy and was relieved when he saw cows instead of German soldiers.  Moving cautiously along the hedgerows, he met up with two other paratroopers. They knocked on the door of a farmhouse and two frightened farmers, relieved to see the American flag on the soldier's sleeves, helped the paratroopers determine that their rendezvous spot was about two miles away.

They met up with more paratroopers along the way, using clickers almost continuously to find one another in the darkness. In the jump zone, Venditti saw paratroopers hanging from the trees, shot and killed in their parachutes.

Less than half of the 600 paratroopers reached the spot, and General Taylor led them to their objective, the capture of Pouppeville and Causeway 1, the road leading inland down to Utah Beach, so the 4th Infantry Division could land.

Venditti's battalion captured the town and waited for the invasion to begin. The Air Force bombed at 6 a.m. and the Navy started shelling at 6:30 a.m. Venditti moved in closer to the beach and saw all the ships.

Venditti fought in Normandy for a month and his next mission was Operation Market-Garden. He jumped 20 miles behind the line in Holland where his objective was to capture bridges so the British-Canadian infantry could advance.

The fighting was non-stop and shrapnel was flying through the air. Crouching in a ditch, Venditti watched as the Germans approached, "walking artillery" toward them, setting it down every 75 yards, and firing. Suddenly, a shell landed behind him and a piece of shrapnel struck him in the foot.
He recuperated, rejoined his unit near Paris, and headed to the Battle of the Bulge.

The fighting in the Ardennes forest was as fierce as the weather. Venditti remembers burning charcoal in his foxhole to keep warm, and rubbing his feet to prevent frostbite.

Venditti was discharged in November 1945 and returned to Chicago Heights, where he still resides. Widowed, Venditti has two children and two grandchildren. He is a retired Chicago Heights Fire Department Captain.