Monday, February 20, 2017

World War II Glider Pilot Charles E. Skidmore Jr. Bio

Charles Edward Skidmore, Jr.
A Concise Biography


By Major Leon B. Spencer, USAF (Retired)
Edited by Michael G. Skidmore


Charles Edward Skidmore, Jr., was born in Columbus, Kansas, on Saturday, 17 January 1920.  His birthplace, a small town in Cherokee County, was located in the southeast corner of the state.  Joplin. Missouri, lay just to the east.  That same month Babe Ruth was traded by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for the largest sum ever paid for a player at the time, and the United States Senate voted against joining the League of Nations.  Chuck, as young Skidmore would be called, was the first of two sons born to his parents, Charles Edward Skidmore, Sr., and Henrietta Geneva (Gallagher) Skidmore.  His father was born in Baxter Springs, and his mother in Columbus. The Skidmore’s were Catholic by faith.  William Dale Skidmore, Chuck’s younger brother, was not born until 25 May 1923, a little over three years later. 

Young Skidmore attended grammar school in Columbus, completing the eighth grade in 1933. In 1934 he entered Cherokee County Community High School in the same town, graduating from there in 1937.  Then it was off to college.  Chuck attended Coffeyville Junior College in Coffeyville, Kansas, from 1937 to 1939, and then transferred to the University of Kansas at Lawrence, where he earned his undergraduate degree in journalism in 1941.  

In late 1940, prior to World War II and graduation from college, Skidmore took and passed the written examination for flight training as an aviation cadet in the US Army Air Corps.  He would not receive his letter of acceptance from the Air Corps until 14 January 1941.  On that date, the War Department, Office of the Chief of the Air Crops, notified him to report to the Induction Station at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on 10 July for enlistment. He was instructed to bring enough civilian clothes for three months, as the Air Corps only supplied coveralls and flying equipment.   At the time of his induction in the service he was living with his parents in Columbus at 235 West Elm Street.  On 11 July 1941, 21 year old Charles E. Skidmore, Jr. was sworn in at Fort Leavenworth as an aviation cadet.  The proud new inductee stood 5 feet 8½ inches in height, weighed 164 pounds, and had brown eyes and hair.  His medical records noted that he had a ruddy complexion, a common classification.     
                                              
Chuck was transferred to King City, California, on 15 July 1941 for primary flight training at the Civilian Flying School at Palo Alto Airport, Inc. that was under contract to the Air Corps.  During his nearly ten weeks of primary training he accumulated 60 hours of flight time in a Ryan PT-21 primary trainer, passing all the flight requirements and successfully completing his ground school courses.  Aviation Cadet Skidmore departed King City for Moffett Field, California, for basic training on 29 September 1941, arriving there the following day.  Moffett Field was located 3 miles north of Mountain View in Santa Clara County.  There he flew the 450 horsepower Vultee BT-13, basic trainer.  Before completing his flight training he was “washed out” for failing to meet certain flight requirements and was given a check ride, which he failed.  He was promptly given an honorable discharge from the Air Corps on 3 November 1941 and returned to civilian life, but not for long.

On 30 December 1941, following the sneak attack on the US Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii  on the 7th of the month, he reenlisted in the Army Air Corps, this time for bombardier training.  He listed Topeka, Kansas, as his home address, even though his parents had moved from 1100 Taylor Street in Topeka to 604 West 8th Street.  This time he was placed on orders to the Air Crew Replacement Training Center at Ellington Field, Texas, for initial training.   His training continued there until 24 February 1942, at which point he was transferred to Victorville Army Air Field, California, on 28 February for advanced training as a member of an 80 man class.    He failed to satisfactorily complete the course and was eliminated as a trainee.  He was honorably discharged for the second time on 25 April 1942.  

Not long afterwards, Skidmore heard about the search for candidates for glider pilot training, a new program implemented under the leadership of Major General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, head of the Army Air Corps.   Not one to be discouraged by failure he applied for glider pilot training and was accepted as a Class “A” aviation student in late June 1942.  Class “A” students were those who had previous flying experience as a pilot and had earned a private pilot’s license or had 200 glider flights.  Skidmore had earned his private pilot’s license on 14 June 1941 through the aviation cadet program.  A Class “B” students, were those with no prior flying experience as a pilot.  On 13 July 1942, for the third time, Chuck enlisted in the Army Air Force at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, this time as a private.  Eleven days later, on 24 July, he was ordered to Sherman Field at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to await the opening of a pre-glider school.   He remained there until 24 August 1942 when he received movement orders transferring him to the Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio, 9.5 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio, for pre-glider training.             

When Chuck arrived at the glider school at Lockbourne he learned that the school could not accommodate additional students for training. Accordingly, on 7 September 1942, he and his classmates were transferred to the growing glider pilot student pool at Randolph Field, Texas.  There were simply not enough training facilities in place to train all the glider students in the pipeline.  As a result, they were frequently held at the glider pilot holding pool at Randolph Field until a new flying school opened.  Skidmore remained at Randolph until 6 October 1942 when orders finally came through transferring him to the 21st AAF Glider Training Detachment at Pittsburg, Kansas, for pre-glider training.   McFarland Flying Service, a civilian flying school under contract to the Army Air Corps provided the flight training and conducted the ground school for students.  The instructors were all civilians. Only the check pilots were military.  The school at Pittsburg was under the jurisdiction of the Commanding General, Gulf Coast Air Forces Training Center at Randolph Field, Texas, and was located just a few miles from Chuck’s birthplace.        

He received 30 hours of pre-glider flight training at Pittsburg, completing his flying requirements on 2 November 1942.  Most students referred to the pre-glider flight training as “dead stick” training.  The connotation resulted from the type of flying conducted.  A glider student would take off and climb to a designated altitude, switch off the engine, pull up the nose slightly to stop the prop from wind milling, and land the aircraft without power as though it were a glider.  The Class “B” students in his class received 40 hours of elementary flight training and 15 hours of “dead stick” landings.  Both “A” and “B” students were required to practice “dead stick” landings day and night to improve their judgment and spot landing proficiency.  Chuck’s class was held at Pittsburgh until 5 December 1942 because the contract basic glider schools were operating at capacity.  To pass the time the students were given close order drill, daily calisthenics and classroom instructions in military discipline and personal hygiene.   

Skidmore and his classmates departed Pittsburgh by train for Lubbock, Texas, where they were assigned to the 1st AAF Glider Training Detachment.  They had hardly settled in before being told that Lubbock was not equipped to provide basic glider training.  Once again everyone was left to cool their heels, and morale began to suffer.  After what seemed like an eternity a class opened at Vinita, Oklahoma, on 31 December 1942.  Chuck and a number of his classmates boarded a train for Vinita, arriving at the train station there on 3 January 1943.  The following day, 4 January, the morale of Chuck and his classmates got a hefty boost when orders were received promoting them to Staff Sergeant.   That same day they were assigned to Class 43-3.    

 Because there was no military facilities in Vinita students were billeted in the Teen Town – Senior Citizen Center, a single story brick building that had been converted into an open bay barracks to accommodate 200 students.  The building had originally been used as an annex to the county court house. Some of the folding metal beds had to be double-decked to save space.  Several wash basins and six showers comprised the bathing facilities.   The student mess hall was a converted cafĂ© in town.

 Basic glider training at Vinita was conducted by Burke Flying Service under contract to the Army Air Force.  Glider students received 30 hours of flight training in the Frankfort TG-1A, a civilian glider known as the “Cinema II,and the three-place military TG-5, an Aeronca Defender that had been converted into a glider.  Flight training took place at the airport, 3 miles north of the town.  Chuck recorded 4 hours and 13 minutes in the TG-1A and 25 hours and 56 minutes in the TG-5 while at Vinita.  He successfully completed the flying and ground school training on 3 February 1943.  Four days later, on 7 February, he and his classmates were off to South Plains Army Flying School at Lubbock, Texas, for advanced glider training.

On 1 April 1943, Skidmore was assigned to Class 43-8 and the next day began advanced flight training in the big 15-place Waco CG-4A glider.  He logged 48 minutes on his first flight with an instructor.   The Lockheed C-60 Lodestar was used to tow the CG-4A at Lubbock.  Skidmore completed his flight and classroom training on 27 April 1943, having logged a total of almost 16 hours and 22 landings in the CG-4A, almost half of it as first pilot.  Having completed his training he was discharged as a Staff Sergeant on 29 April for the purpose of accepting an appointment as flight officer on 30 April 1943.  The flight officer rank was new in the Army Air Corps, and was equivalent to a junior grade warrant officer.  The pay was the same as a second lieutenant, with an additional 20% of base pay for overseas duty. The insignia of rank was an oval bar, the top surface of which was Bristol blue with a gold border around the edges and across the center of the bar.   Flight officers were addressed as “Mister” rather than by their rank.  Of course, glider pilots also received hazardous duty pay, i.e., flight pay, which amounted to 50% of an individual’s base pay.   

Chuck looked resplendent in his officer’s pinks and greens on graduation day.  He was in high spirits as he marched across the stage in the base theater, saluted the school commandant, and was presented with his sterling silver glider wings.  He was now officially a glider pilot, a member of a very unique group of fliers, and proud of it.  Paragraph 59 of Personnel Orders No. 7, dated 15 April 1943, officially rated him a glider pilot, effective 30 April 1943, and Paragraph 60 of the same order required him to participate in regular and frequent flights after being ordered to active duty.   From that date forward, when someone asked him what the “G” in his wings stood for, his usual response was, “Guts.”     

On 30 April 1943, special orders were issued transferring newly promoted Flight Officer Skidmore to Louisville, Kentucky, with assignment to the 27th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron at Bowman Field.  Officially, the base was known as the Glider Pilot Combat Training Unit (GPCTU), but unofficially it was called the “Home of the Winged Commandos.”  In the absence of CG-4A gliders Chuck would undergo simulated tactical training in light liaison aircraft.   He would also be introduced for the first time to ground combat training.  When glider pilots landed in combat they would fight alongside their glider infantrymen passengers until they could report to the command post.  Chuck’s first flight at Bowman was on 11 May 1943 in an Aeronca L-3C in which he logged three hours, half of it as first pilot.  Dead stick spot landings were practiced regularly, frequently over two sets of 50-foot barriers placed close together to teach glider pilots the technique of short field landings.  The objective was to clear the first barrier, land the glider, and stop it before reaching the second barrier.  When glider pilots weren’t flying they were participating in forced marches with full field packs, practicing hand-to-hand combat and learning other ground fighting tactics.  

For the next six months the daily flying routine was practice, practice and more practice.  After days of rigorous infantry training glider pilots were in the best physical condition of their life.  On the light side, during his tenure at Bowman, Chuck met and began dating Norma Lee Emery, who lived in New Albany, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville.  She lived at home with her parents, George Joseph Emery and Grace (Baxley) Emery.  After a short courtship, Chuck and Norma Lee were married in New Albany on 3 August 1943, just days before her seventeenth birthday on 29 August.  The young bride was radiant in her wedding outfit.  The newlyweds set up housekeeping at the home of Norma Lee’s parents at 708 East 11th Street in New Albany.  

A few days after arriving st Bowman, Chuck met me and we soon became close friends.   He called me Spence.   We spent a lot of time together drinking beer at the Red Devil Inn across the road from Bowman Field.   Since we were both members of Flight 3 for training we frequently flew together. Chuck, and his new bride, Norman Lee, and I shared many evenings together, sometimes at my apartment at 2208 Lowell Avenue in Louisville, at the Red Devil Inn or at the movies.   Norma Lee always addressed me as Spencer B.  Unfortunately, unpredictable events would result in the friendship being short lived.  After Bowman Field we went in different directions and would soon lose track of one another.   Many years would pass before Chuck and I made contact again. 

Between July and September, Chuck was involved in two flying incidents, one of them involve me.  The first incident occurred on 23 July 1943 when Chuck and Flight Officer James V. McNally, flying together, were participating in a low level tactical training flight in an Aeronca L-3C.  McNally, who was flying the aircraft, struck an auxiliary power line damaging the aircraft to the extent that he had to make a forced landing in a corn field.  Both wings of the aircraft, the propeller, the landing gear and the engine were damaged, and the cockpit windscreen was broken.  Fortunately, neither McNally nor Skidmore were injured.  The accident review board determined that the accident was 100% pilot error, and was duly noted on McNally’s next performance report.          

Two months later, on 10 September 1943, Skidmore was involved in a second aircraft incident.  This time I was involved.  He and I were part of a 30 light aircraft flight from Bowman Field to Lexington, Kentucky and return, a combined distance of 130 miles.   The e flight took off and proceeded in trail to its destination.   The mission was listed as a simulated combat mission in the training report.  Both legs of the flight were flown at 1,500 feet.  The flight to Lexington was uneventful, but on the return flight tragedy struck.  When the column of aircraft made a right turn Flight Officer Robert T. Sutherlin, 27, from Bloomington, Indiana, who was believed to be the fifth aircraft in the column, turned too sharply and struck the fourth aircraft in the column flown by Flight Officer Harold D. Roth, 22, causing major damage.  Roth’s aircraft cartwheeled according to witnesses and fell into a flat spin all the way to the ground.  He bailed out too low to the ground, and died from blunt force trauma.   Eyewitnesses who found him testified that he parachute was unopened. 

The aircraft flown by Flight Officer Robert Sutherlin, which was less damaged, made three wide sweeping spirals before crashing and burning.  Sutherlin died on impact with the ground when he bailed out at too low and altitude for the parachute to open.    Eye witnesses confirmed that his chute opened partially but not enough to break his fall. 

Skidmore was flying near the tail end of the formation and did not actually see the two aircraft collide but sensed something had happened when I suddenly left the formation and dove towards a field below.  Chuck followed me down and saw that two planes had crashed in the field ahead of him.  One of the aircraft was burning.  As he watched my plane buzz the field he saw it suddenly pitch down and crash.  He pulled back on the stick to gain altitude and instantly saw a clear field he could land in just ahead.  He said in a 1 September 1993 letter to me that he was so shook up when he landed that he couldn’t find the aircraft brakes.  Luckily his aircraft rolled to a stop before colliding with anything.  He jumped out and ran towards the adjacent field where he had seen my plane crash.   

As he ran he noticed that three other aircraft had landed in a nearby field.  When he reached my plane he observed two young men trying to extricate me.  He said later that I was unconscious and moaning.  The wing fuel tanks of my aircraft had ruptured and soaked me and the aircraft interior with aviation fuel, and there was the ever present danger of fire.  Chuck nudged his way in and to me and took over the rescue operation with the help of the three other glider pilots that had landed.  The aircraft engine was lying in my lap pinning me in the aircraft.  It was a painstaking task to free me without causing further injury.            

 As they worked to hoist the engine off my legs, one of them glanced up and noticed a man standing no more than five feet away smoking a cigar.  Chuck, he couldn’t remember which one, but one of the glider pilots , asked the man to extinguish the cigar and he refused, at which point the glider pilot drew the 45 he was wearing and said “If you don’t stop smoking I’ll stop you permanently,” or something to that effect.  The guy back away without a word.   After thirty minutes or so they succeeded in raising the engine enough to free my legs and removed me from the aircraft still unconscious. I was placed on a blanket that someone had provided.  Shortly thereafter a military ambulance carrying a doctor arrived from Bowman Field.  The doctor examined me, started an IV to prevent shock, and helped load him in the ambulance.  Skidmore accompanied me back to Bowman Field in the ambulance.         

My injuries included a brain concussion, a crushed right foot, lacerations and puncture wounds all over his arms and legs, plus contusions and abrasions galore.  I did not regain consciousness until after I was admitted to the hospital.   Because of the seriousness of my injuries, I would be confined to three different medical facilities for almost eleven months.  In August 1944, I met a medical evaluation board and returned to flying duties.    Thus ended the saga of the aircraft accidents. 

Skidmore completed his training at Bowman, now called the Glider Crew Training Center, in mid-October 1943.  On 21 October, 1st Troop Carrier Command issued orders assigning him and 227 other Bowman Field graduates to the 38th Troop Carrier Squadron at Camp Mackall in Hoffman, North Carolina.   The graduates departed the following day by rail, bus and private conveyance, each granted five days leave before reporting to their new duty station on 29 October.  Their reassignment orders specified that friends or relatives were prohibited from either accompanying or joining them at their new base.  Everyone felt certain that upon completion of tactical training they would be headed overseas.  Chuck’s wife, Norma Lee, returned to her parents’ home until she could join Chuck again, which turned out to be many months.   For the next several weeks Chuck underwent intensive combat training, usually hauling glider troopers, airborne weaponry, or vehicles of the 82nd Airborne Division from nearby Fort Bragg, North Carolina.       

On 26 November 1943, his combat training at Mackall completed, orders were issued transferring Skidmore and a large contingent of glider pilots based there to the 439th Troop Carrier Group temporarily based at nearby Pope Field, North Carolina.  When he reported to the 439th he was assigned to the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, which promptly divided the glider pilots into 50-man flights for training purposes.  Skidmore was assigned to Flight “C.”  Many of the C-47 pilots in the Group had little or no experience towing gliders so they practiced day and night doing just that until mid-January when the Group began to prepare for overseas movement.  Much of their training while at Pope Field was conducted at nearby Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base, North Carolina.      

In early February 1944 the air echelon of the 439th was ordered to Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Indiana, the aerial port of embarkation, arriving there on the 14th of the month.  The ground echelon would follow by ship to England.  The advance parties of the 439th from two of its squadrons, the 91st and 92nd, departed Baer Field in their C47 transports circa 19 February 1944.  Flying a circuitous route they arrived at Balderton Airdrome in England on 21 February 1944.  The remaining two squadrons, the 93rd and 94th, did not arrive at Balderton until 6 March.  The airdrome was located 2 miles south of Newark, England in the midlands.  Skidmore and the ground echelon of the 439th TC Group and its four squadrons left New York aboard the U. S. S. George Washington, an Army troop transport, on 28 February 1944.  After eleven days at sea the ship arrived at Liverpool, England on 10 March 1944.   From there they traveled by rail to Balderton where they would remain until 26 April 1944.  On that date the group was relocated to the airdrome at Upottery, England.

Following the Group’s arrival in the United Kingdom the training continued unabated in preparation for the invasion of the continent.  Several maneuvers were held to further hone the skills of the C-47 and glider pilots.  About a month before the invasion of Normandy, France the 439th was relocated to Taunton in southern England.  On 3 June everyone was herded into barracks and hangars that were surrounded by barbed wire.  Everyone knew that they would soon be facing the enemy.  Finally, the day that every Allied soldier looked forward to arrived.  Chuck said that you could feel the tension in the air. He would not fly the D-Day mission on 6 June 1944, but would fly in glider trooper reinforcements of the 101st Airborne Division the following day, D-Day +1.    

Everyone flying the mission on 7 June was awakened at 4:00 a.m. by the CQ (charge-of-quarters).  When they arrived at the mess hall for breakfast they were surprised to see that fresh eggs were being served.  No one had seen a fresh egg since they arrived in England, so they were duly surprised.   The next thing they were served was a huge piece of chocolate cake.  The combination was unusual but not unappetizing.  They took what they were given and joked about it.

When Chuck, who was flying copilot, and the pilot arrived at their glider they climbed aboard carrying their parachutes.  Glider troopers were already seated on both sides of the cabin.  They lay their parachutes on the cockpit seats, and prepared to sit down.   At that point a burly airborne infantry lieutenant stuck his head between the two pilots and announced, “There’s no use of you two fastening on those parachutes because we’ll never let you use them anyway.”  Chuck explained to the lieutenant that the parachutes were used only as a seat cushion and to prove his point, he didn’t even bother to drape the straps over his shoulder.  The CG-4A cockpit seats were purposely built low so they could accommodate the Air Force S-1 and S-5 seat pack parachute.

The two hour and fifteen minute flight to Normandy was uneventful until they arrived near the landing zone at 600 feet.  Just as the pilot released the glider from the tow plane a burst of machine gun fire from the ground passed through the cockpit floor missing Chuck’s head by no more than a foot, and stitched the right wing from end to end.  Had the burst arrived a split second earlier he would have caught it right in the face.  To the consternation of both pilots they noticed that the Germans had flooded their landing zone.  The pilot had no choice but to land on the water.  Fortunately, it was only about three feet deep.  As the glider settled on the water, Skidmore removed his flak vest, tore a large piece of fabric off the side of the cockpit and rolled out into the water.   He and the pilot waded to dry land and headed for the nearest hedgerow for protection.       

Once on the ground, so to speak, the glider infantrymen quickly located the source of the ground fire.  It turned out to be a bunker containing about a dozen conscripted Polish soldiers with a German sergeant in charge.  After the glider troopers from several gliders, including Skidmore’s, directed a hail of rifle and bazooka fire at the bunker the resistance ceased.  Then a single shot was heard inside the bunker, followed by laughter.  Soon the Poles emerged with their hands held high in surrender.  They weren’t about to fight the Americans.  They simply shot the German sergeant. 

Chuck, the pilot, and the troopers took refuge in a thatched roof farm house.  They were surprised to find an American paratrooper with a broken leg on one of the beds.  He had jumped the night before and had fractured his leg when he fell though the thatched roof of the farm house.  A young French girl was caring for him, so he just lay there waiting for the war to come to him.  Chuck wondered afterwards if he made it back home okay.  

By nightfall, Skidmore said that he and the pilot began looking for a safe place to catch a few winks.  They came upon several other Americans busily digging holes in a small field, so they likewise began digging in the same area.  “Hey, you guys can’t dig there,” said one of the Americans.  “Why,” we asked.  “Because we’re starting a temporary American cemetery here,” was the reply.  They were burying several dead American paratroopers.  That did it. We went elsewhere, Chuck said.   For the next 24 hours they spent some time with a 105mm artillery crew, providing perimeter guard, and then joined a communications outfit.   

There was considerable confusion for the next two days since there were no distinct battle lines, and the war consisted of a number of small skirmishes between Americans and Germans.   They learned that the troops had moved off the beach and the Americans appeared to be winning their skirmishes.  Chuck and most of the surviving glider pilots began to assemble at the 101st command post.  On the third day they made the 3 mile trek to Utah Beach where the beach master assigned them the job of guarding German POWs (Prisoners-of-War).  Later that day, glider pilots and POWs were loaded aboard an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) and then onto an LST (Landing Ship Tank) for the trip back to England.        

A little excitement occurred while they were on the LST.  It was anchored next to an American oil tanker that subsequently attracted the attention of a German E-boat (similar to an American PT boat). The E-boat launched a torpedo that struck the oil tanker below the water line and it exploded.  There was only one survivor, a man and his dog.  Moments later a British ground attack aircraft fired on and sank the E-boat. Chuck said that it was much like watching a newsreel to watch the incident unfold before your eyes.  

Miraculously, the German commander of the E-boat was rescued by crewmen from Skidmore‘s LST.  He had a severe leg wound.  Chuck helped carry him to the operating table below deck where an American medic tended to the wound.  When the medic indicated that he wanted to cut apart the officer’s sealskin trousers, the latter exploded with anger.  The medic retorted, “If he wants them all that bad, let him keep them.”  So Chuck and the medic, with the help of the German removed his trousers.  It must have been dreadfully painful, but the German never uttered a word.  He sat stoically as the medic tended to his wound.

In another instance while on the LST a German POW caught his ring on a nail while descending the ship’s ladder.  The ring tore into the flesh so badly that the same medic had to take a surgical saw and remove the ring.  He did it without a painkiller, which for some reason the German refused.  Once again, the pain must have been terrible, but there was not a peep out of the prisoner.  The Germans were obviously well disciplined when it came to pain, thought Chuck.  When the LST landed in England the prisoners were turned over to the British military.  As he stepped off the ship Skidmore gave thanks that he had survived his first combat mission against the enemy.      
     
On 5 July 1944, in accordance with General Order No. 33, Chuck and the other glider pilots of the 439th TC Group who flew the Normandy mission were awarded the Air Medal for meritorious service and valor in the face of the enemy, and a bronze arrowhead to the European-African-Middle Eastern medal for a combat glider landing.  He was subsequently awarded the Croix de Guerre medal (a unit citation) by the French for the liberation of France.  The 439th Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation from the Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, for distinguished performance in Normandy.  Following World War II, Chuck received further WWII recognition from the French.  His name was permanently inscribed on the Wall of Liberty at Normandy by The Battle of Normandy Foundation.   

Training continued at Upottery until 8 September 1944 when the 439th was alerted to move to Juvincourt, France (ALG A-68) as the vanguard of the 50th Troop Carrier Wing.  The movement of equipment and personnel took several days, but the air echelon returned to England the following week to take part in the invasion of Holland scheduled to begin on 17 September 1944.  Chuck flew the D-Day mission in a CG-4A as pilot, departing from Balderton Airdrome.  He said later that the mission was strange from the very beginning and almost humorous.           

The day of the mission he was driven out to his glider in a jeep.  During his preflight check he noted that his load was a ¼ ton jeep trailer that was covered with a tarpaulin.  Skidmore asked the loadmaster what was in the trailer and he told him 800 pounds of land mines.  He was told not to worry because it would take the weight of a sizeable vehicle to detonate them.  Small consolation, Chuck mused.  Three gliders troopers of the 82nd Airborne Division were also included in his load.    

Chuck waited outside of his glider for some time for his copilot who never appeared.  When he queried the crew chief he smiled and said that the Colonel Young had decided against using two glider pilots on this mission.  Just prior to his glider being pulled into position for hookup a fourth soldier suddenly showed up at the glider.  He wore full combat dress and was carrying a Thompson submachine gun. He climbed over the jeep trailer and sat down in the copilot’s seat.  Chuck was surprised to see that it was Warrant Officer Walter F. Domanski, the assistant engineering officer of the 91st TC Squadron.  After a brief conversation Chuck learned that he was an unofficial passenger, in essence, a stowaway.              

The four hour flight to Holland was boring and tiring, Chuck admitted later that it was a pretty hairy flight after passing over the Dutch coast.  A tow plane just ahead of him went down in flames after being hit by ground fire.  He watched for parachutes but saw none as the plane plummeted to earth.  He felt his heart racing, he said, and he began sweating so profusely that beads of water were showing inside his watch crystal.  Near the end of the 90 mile overland portion of the flight his glider began to take ground fire from a windmill but fortunately no one was hit.  Moments later he received the green light from his tow plane and released his glider.  Turning to the left he quickly spotted his landing zone.  As he circled towards the field below more ground fire was directed at his glider.  As he made his approach he saw another tow plane go down trailing fire.  In an effort to evade the enemy fire coming up at him he dove towards the ground, quickly picking up speed.  One of the glider troopers aboard sensed that he was exceeding the usual rate of descent and decided to take action.  He climbed over the trailer, rapped on Chuck’s steel helmet and shouted, “Slow this S.O.B. down!”  

Not knowing quite how to fly the glider and defend himself at the same time, Chuck did the best he could under the circumstance… he flew the glider.  The trooper suddenly shoved him in the back which caused the glider to begin descending even faster.  Fortunately, W/O Domanski came to his rescue.  He shoved his Tommy gun into the soldier‘s shoulder and said, “Get back in your seat or I’ll   sit you down permanently.” 

Since the trooper had left his weapon in the back of the glider, and probably because he sensed that discretion was the better part of valor, he beat a hasty retreat to his seat in the back of the CG-4A.  Chuck landed the glider on the proper landing zone, but it didn’t fair too well.  The giant beets growing on the landing zone pretty much destroyed the bottom of the glider.  Chuck helped unload his glider and moments later a jeep arrived to tow the trailer.  Within several days he was back in France.  In October, November and December 1944, Chuck flew resupply missions to Holland as copilot aboard the squadron’s C-47s.  On 4 December 1944, he was awarded an oak leaf cluster to the Air Medal and the Distinguished Unit Badge for his participation in Operation “Market.”  He was also awarded the orange lanyard by the Dutch, and belatedly was also awarded the Willemsorde, the Netherlands highest award. 
The Holland mission was the last combat mission Chuck flew, but the stress and strain of the two combat missions took a toll on his nervous system.  He began to have flashbacks of his close calls in France and Holland.  On one occasion German soldiers passed within a few feet of him as he lay in an apple orchard on a pile of canvas bags used to drop supplies from the air by B-17s.  On another occasion he watched the reflection of war from a glassed-in porch of a Dutch home and become so entranced that he didn’t notice the Germans had spotted him and were firing at him.  Luckily he was not hit, but he had bad dreams about the incident later.   His depression and anxiety became worse.      

Since October 1942 he had logged 377 hours and 45 minutes of pilot time in powered aircraft and gliders, 6 hours and 15 minutes of it in combat.  In May 1945, shortly after cessation war in Europe, he was physically disqualified by the flight surgeon from further overseas flying duty.  He languished in France until 26 September 1945 when he was assigned unattached to the AAF/ET Reinforcement Depot there.  From France he was transferred to the port of debarkation at Antwerp, Belgium.  Prior to departing the ETO he was awarded seven battle stars to his EAME medal.  The Army troop transport he returned home on lifted anchor on 3 October 1945 and headed for the U.S.A.  Ten days later, on 13 October, the ship docked in New York and he was transported to the Reception Center at Camp Shanks, New York.  Orders were issued transferring Skidmore to the Separation Center at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.  He departed New York that afternoon by rail.   

Four days later, on Wednesday, 17 October 1945, Special Order No. 251 was issued at Camp Atterbury authorizing Skidmore 2 months and 20 days of unused leave, and releasing him from active duty effective 9 January 1946.  He was also officially placed in the inactive reserve.  He departed Camp Atterbury and headed for Topeka, Kansas, to see Norma Lee and his parents. It had been 19½ long months since he had seen them and he was eager to get home.  His homecoming was all that he hoped it would be.  He was able to hold Norma Lee in his arms again, sleep late in the mornings and taste home cooked meals again.  Life was good but he was still plagued by a persistent depression and nervous anxiety.     

After visiting with his parents, Norma Lee and Chuck went to live, at least temporarily, with her parents in New Albany, Indiana.  He landed a job with a local newspaper there for $32.00 a week, a far cry from his military base pay, allowances, and flight pay.  On 7 January 1946, while still on terminal leave from the Air Force Chuck became ill and was admitted to Nichols General Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, just across the river, the same hospital where I had been a patient   Doctors there diagnosed his problem as psychoneurosis (emotional maladaptation due to unresolved unconscious conflicts).  The unexpired portion of his terminal leave was suspended.  A week later, on 14 January, he was transferred to Newton D. Baker General Hospital in Martinsburg, West Virginia, for treatment.  Doctors there declared him mentally fit on 6 March 1946 and issued orders transferring him back to the reception center at Camp Atterbury for reassignment.  Orders were issued transferring him to the 800th AAF Base Unit at Greenville, South Carolina, effective 17 March 1946.  He remained at Greenville for further evaluation until 3 July 1946 when he was officially released from active duty.

Chuck and Norma Lee returned to Topeka, Kansas, where he enlisted as a Master Sergeant in the Army Air Force for three years at Forbes Army Air Base there on 22 July 1946.  His date of rank was listed as 31 April 1943.  He listed his permanent home address as 604 West 8th Street, Topeka, Kansas, his parents’ home address.  He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 314th Troop Carrier Wing at Sewart Army Air Base, Smyrna, Tennessee, for duty as a historical technician (MOS 274)1.  His first assignment was to bring the unit’s history up to date from the end of World War II.  For his diligence and perseverance he was given a superior performance rating.  On 27 November 1946, Chuck was temporarily assigned to the 1100th AAF Base Unit at Fort Totten, New York, for the purpose of bringing the history of the Atlantic Division of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) up to date.  He completed the history in three months, often working 16 hour days.  This was a challenge since the Atlantic Division stretched from Iceland to the Panama Canal.  He was lauded by the command for his stellar performance.     

In April 1947, as part of his historical duties, he was tasked with writing the history for an Air Force Reserve Unit in Louisville, Kentucky, and in January 1948, he compiled the history of another reserve unit in Indianapolis, Indiana.  In 1947, on 26 July, the Army Air Force became the United. States Air Force and was placed on an equal footing with the Army and Navy.  Shortly thereafter the olive drab uniform changed to Air Force blue.  In between writing the histories of the two reserve units, Norma gave birth to their first child, Joseph Dale Skidmore, who was born in the post hospital at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on 7 December 1947, “Pearl Harbor Day, six years later.”  Parents and grandparents were elated with their new son and grandson respectively, and doted over the infant. Chuck remained with the 314th until his three-year enlistment expired on 31 May 1949.  He promptly reenlisted for three additional years the following day, remaining with the 314th until 15 August 1950, when he became a recruiting supervisor (AFSC 73370) with the Recruiting Service Group in Topeka, Kansas.  In January 1950 he was promoted to first lieutenant in the USAF Inactive Reserve.  His next post as a recruiter was in Lawrence, Kansas.  Subsequently, he and his family moved to Hutchinson, Kansas, where Norma Lee gave birth to their second son, Michael George Skidmore, on 8 December 1950.  Chuck continued his recruiting duties until 2 June 1952 when his enlistment ended.    
 
He reenlisted on 3 June 1952 for the third time since the end of WWII and continued his tenure as a recruiter at Forbes Air Force Base, Topeka, Kansas.  The Skidmore’s third child, and first daughter, Kathryn Lee Skidmore, was born there on 1 October 1952.  At the time the family was living at 909 Michigan Avenue.  On 28 December 1952, he was transferred to the 3500th Personnel Processing Center at Waco, Texas, as a recruitment supervisor.  After serving three years as a recruiter, he was transferred to Headquarters, 3530th Pilot Training Wing at Bryan AFB, Texas, on 1 September 1953 as a historical technician.  The Air Base was located 6 miles west of Bryan.  Two days later he also became an information supervisor (AFSC 72170) in the same unit.  For the next two years he wrote the history of Bryan AFB, activated in 1943 during World War II.  He was frequently the recipient of awards for the best quarterly history.  His histories were always rated either “excellent” or “superior”.  On 2 June 1955, while at Bryan AFB, Chuck’s three year enlistment expired, and he reenlisted the following day, this time for six years.    

Just a few days after his reenlistment, on 17 June 1955, he was transferred to the 784th AC&W Squadron at Fort Knox, Kentucky, as an information technician.  The family packed their belongings, loaded them in the family vehicle, and headed east.  They rented a house near the base at 1909 Taffeta Drive in Valley Station, Kentucky.  Four months later, on 8 October 1955, Norma Lee gave birth to their fourth and last child, Linda Sue Skidmore, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Chuck was promoted to Captain in the USAF Inactive Reserve on 1 January 1956.  The family packed up and moved again on 9 July 1957.  This time, Chuck was assigned to Headquarters, 815th Air Base Group at Forbes Air Force Base as an information technician.  They found a place to live at 319 Woodruff Avenue in Topeka.  Nine months later, on 16 April 1958, orders were issued transferring him to Fort Mason, California, but he would be there for only two weeks.  

Overseas shipping orders were issued on 1 May 1958, assigning Skidmore to the 2710th Air Base Wing at Tachikawa, Japan.  Their household belongings were stored and the family accompanied him to the Far East aboard MSTS ship, the USS Frederick Dunston.  The voyage took two weeks.  The family took a taxi to Tachikawa and was scared out of their wits by a reckless Japanese driver.  After signing in Chuck was told that base housing was not available so they were temporarily quartered at the guest house on base.  Two weeks later they moved to a house Chuck rented in Kunitachi.  In a 6 July 2007 e-mail from Chuck’s son, Mike, he said that when rain and wind storms came through Japan his dad would use cargo straps to tie the roof down.  During monsoon season the island was hammered with strong winds and rain.       

Sergeant Skidmore was assigned to the 2710th Air Base Wing (subsequently changed to the 6100th Air Base Wing) as NCOIC of Information Services.  In addition to his principal job of supervising the preparation of the base history, he also edited the base newspaper, The Marauder.  It was judged third best in the Air Force and was one of the top three newspapers published overseas.  He worked closely with Dr. Lulu Garrett, the base historian.  In his spare time he edited four other English language news publications in the Tokyo area and worked frequently as master of ceremonies at American Clubs. On 2 June 1961, while at Tachikawa, Chuck’s enlistment expired.  He reenlisted for the last time on 3 June for three years.  

In April 1962, orders were issued returning him to the states.  His new assignment, effective 18 May 1962, was to Headquarters, North Atlantic Communications Region, Air Force Communications Service, at Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts.  The family returned to the states from Yokota Air Base aboard a Boeing 707.  Skidmore’s duty assignment at Westover was NCOIC of Information Services.  The family moved into quarters on base at 14A Webb Street.  During his tour of duty at Westover, Chuck worked part-time on weekends for a local newspaper, the Springfield Evening News.   He wrote feature stories for the newspaper, gaining valuable writing experience for a civilian newspaper.  His job involved interviewing a number of state officials, including Ted Kennedy, President John Kennedy’s brother.        
  
Fifteen months later, on 23 July 1963, Chuck was transferred to Forbes Air Force Base for the fourth time.  This time he was assigned to the 815th Combat Support Group, Strategic Air Command. His new job was NCOIC of Information Services.  He and his family moved into a house at 5133 West 32nd Street in Topeka.  During the 1961-63 period Skidmore’s primary duty was writing and editing the base newspaper.  His superiors rated him an exceptional airman of great value to the service.  In September 1963, two months after arriving at Forbes he submitted his request for retirement.  The request was approved by the Pentagon and on 31 March 1964 he was relieved from active duty and retired as a Warrant Officer W-1, effective 1 April 1964.  It was not possible to retire him as a Flight Officer, the highest wartime grade he had held, because it was a temporary wartime rank that had been abolished after the war.  Warrant Officer W-1 was an equivalent grade.  Skidmore had served his country faithfully and honorably for 22 years, 3 months and 7 days.  He listed his mailing address as 946 Chester Avenue, Topeka, Kansas.

Chuck never let grass grow under his feet.  Prior to retiring he had applied for the job as managing editor of a metals trade journal, Midwest Industries Magazine, located at the Gage Center in Topeka.  The magazine was one of the leading publications of its type in the Midwest, serving Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Nebraska.  Skidmore was hired after competing with 34 other applicants, and reported to work on 30 April 1964.  The job required extensive travel to conduct interviews with leading industrialists in Kansas City, Wichita, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Denver.  During his tenure there, Chuck performed every facet of the trade magazine business including interviewing, writing, editing, and doing his own photography work.  While the family was in Topeka, their oldest son, Joe, graduated from high school there in June 1965.   Late the following year, 1966, Skidmore submitted his application for a GS-11 US Civil Service position as historian of the 6100th Support Wing at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. He gave his home address as 5133 West 32nd Street, Topeka, Kansas 66614. His application was approved on 16 March 1967.  Accordingly, he submitted his resignation as managing editor of the magazine effective 1 April 1967.        

The Skidmore family stored their household goods, packed their suitcases and said their goodbyes to their parents and friends.  This would be their second trip to the Orient.   The family traveled aboard a Boeing 707, deplaning at Yokota Air Base, Japan, on Saturday, 7 May 1967.  They were transported to Tachikawa Air Base by government vehicle where they spent the next two nights in the guest house.  Monday morning Chuck reported to his new boss, Lt. Colonel Henry Liljedahl, Information Officer of the 6100th Support Wing.  The colonel explained his duties as wing historian.  His principle job was to supervise the history inputs from the units assigned to the wing.  A secondary function was to provide guidance and advice where needed to those persons writing the histories.  The family was assigned quarters in an off-base American village that was actually part of the base.  The housing area was surrounded by a high fence.  Two years later, in June 1969, the Skidmore’s second son, Mike, graduated from Yamato High School located at Yamato Air Station a few miles from Tachikawa Air Base.
    
The family remained at Tachikawa until 15 July 1969 when Chuck’s position was taken over by a historian with more seniority from the disbanded 315th Air Division.  The Air Force transferred Skidmore to Misawa Air Base, Japan, located on the northern tip of Honshu Island.  He was assigned to the 475th Tactical Fighter Wing as a writer-editor (printed media) with the History Division.  The involuntary move resulted in a reduction in grade from GS-11 to GS-9, but with no loss of pay. The Skidmore’s oldest daughter, Kathy, returned to the states in 1969 to live with her grandmother, Henrietta Skidmore.  She graduated from Hayden Catholic High School there in June 1970.  The rest of the family remained at Misawa Air Base until 31 March 1971 when Skidmore accepted a position as historian at Taipei Air Station, Taiwan as a GS-11. 

At Taiwan he was assigned to the Historical Office of 327th Air Division.  The following year, on 1 April 1972, a reorganization of the 327th resulted in Chuck being reassigned to the 6213th Air Base Squadron as historian.  Soon thereafter he received a letter of appreciation from Major General Donald H. Ross, commander of the 327th Air Division for getting the 374th Tactical Air Wing back on track.  More accolades came Skidmore’s way on 23 January 1973 when he received yet another letter, this one from Major William B. Sandmann, Deputy Command Historian, rating his two-volume history of the 327th Air Division as excellent for the period 1 January to 30 June 1972.   In 1972 Skidmore turned down a GS-12 position at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in favor of remaining in Taiwan for an additional year.  Linda, the Skidmore’s youngest daughter, graduated from high school in Taipei.  After almost six years in the Orient, the Skidmore family returned to the states in May 1973.   Chuck was assigned to the Research Division at Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska, as a GS-11historian, effective 5 June 1973.   The family moved into a house at 337 Spruce Street in Omaha.

While based in Omaha he researched and wrote multi-volume histories of SAC units.  In the process he organized material and monographs and presented a synthesis in narrative form accompanied by supporting documents.  Not long after arriving back in the United States, 47-year-old Norma Lee became disoriented and began showing signs of senile dementia.  She was examined by a doctor who diagnosed her problem as early Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.   She was treated by a local psychiatrist but continued to regress.  In August 1974, Chuck was reassigned to the 2803rd Air Base Group, Aerospace Guidance and Metrology Center, at Newark Air Force Station, Ohio, as a historian and writer/editor.  The air station was located 35 miles east of Columbus.  Knowing that he would be unable to properly care for Norma Lee, Chuck talked over the situation with his children.  With great reluctance they agreed that their mother would be better off in an adult care facility where she could get the proper treatment.  They selected a Lutheran senior’s home in Omaha where the government would pick up the cost, lessening the financial burden on the family.  

During Skidmore’s tenure at Newark he met a Korean lady, MiKyong (Jeannie) and they fell in love and wished to marry.  Not knowing how his children would react if he divorced their mother, Chuck sought for their approval.   After much agonizing they agreed.  Their mother’s doctor told them that her mental state would only get worse.     When Norma Lee was told about the divorce she seemed to take it in stride, especially since she probably didn’t remember her marriage to Chuck.   He and Jeannie were married circa 1984 according to his son, Mike.  They set up housekeeping at 199 Lees Drive, Southeast, in Hebron, Ohio 43025.  On 10 January 1977, at age 57, Chuck completed the requirements for an MA degree at Central Michigan University at Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and was awarded a diploma.  

In 1980, he was assigned to the Directorate of Metrology at Newark with the responsibility of developing a wide variety of periodicals designed to keep Air Force components up-to-date on the latest developments in the Air Force Metrology and Calibration (AFMETCAL) Program.  He also assisted in the preparation of briefings for Air Force major commands and base level units.  For his outstanding performance he was recognized with the presentation of the AFLC (Air Force Logistics Command) Significant Achievement Award.

Chuck was rarely bothered with health issues, but in July 1984 a cyst developed on the right side of his throat and was surgically removed.  The biopsy was negative, but two months later the cyst returned and was removed again at nearby Licking Memorial Hospital.  This time the cyst was found to be cancerous.  Skidmore had never been a smoker and considered himself a health nut, but the unexpected had happened.  Squamous cell carcinoma was no laughing matter.  His odds were not good.  He and his wife, MiKyong (or Jeannie), traveled to the Air Force Cancer Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent nine hours of surgery in which both tonsils were removed.  They were found to be cancerous, a very rare condition.   He spent three long months in the hospital.  During follow-on treatments, he endured 6,500 rads of radiation in an effort to ersdicate the cancer cells which was near the limit for human endurance. 

When he and Jeannie returned to Newark in January 1985, he weighed 136 pounds, down from 165.  He was required to return to San Antonio monthly for checkups and treatments.  That same year he decided he could no longer pay full time and attention to his job so he decided to retire, this time for good.  He submitted his retirement request on 18 April 1985.  He was allowed to repay $2,000 to the federal government so that he could retire as a GS-11 with 40 years total service.  His retirement request was approved and at age 65 he officially retired on 30 April 1985.  Without most of his salivary glands, Skidmore has a constant dry mouth, and almost no sense of taste.  For two years he traveled to the Institute of Health in Washington, DC, to participate in a test program to determine the possible benefits of pilocarpine, a species of tropical shrub, in the treatment of persons with the dry mouth problem.   The results were marginal.  Further tests at the Air Force Cancer Center showed that his cancer was in remission.   

Retirement and sedentary living wasn’t in Chuck’s genes.  Even with his medical problems he merely changed from a paying job to doing volunteer work for the next 15 years.  At various times he served as president of the St. Leonard’s Catholic Church Council in Heath, Ohio; published a monthly  12-page church newsletter; tended the church garden almost daily during the summer; was a member of the Red Cross board; publish a quarterly Red Cross newsletter; was past commander of the local VFW post and later adjutant; was commander of the Military Order of the Cootie – a VFW honor organization several times; volunteered at New Beginnings, the battered women’s shelter; and was secretary of the Air Force Association in Newark.  There were many other less time consuming jobs too numerous to mention.   He said in a 4 March 1989 article that appeared in The Advocate, a Newark, Ohio, newspaper that volunteerism ran in the family.  He said that he remembered his grandmother gathering clothing and food for the needy before government welfare programs were available.

In January 1992, Skidmore developed prostate cancer and underwent surgery to remove the prostate.  He was definitely a survivor, living for nine more years of a rather active life.  Sadly, on Tuesday, 1 May 2001, at age 81, he passed away at the Selma Markowitz Center operated by Hospice of Central Ohio.  The VFW held services at 9:45 a.m. followed by a Memorial Mass of Christian Burial held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, 5 May, at St. Leonard Catholic Church with the Reverend Michael Reis officiating.  Interment was in Riverside National Cemetery, 22495 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside, California 92518.  There is a marker on his grave.   He was survived by his wife, MiKyong, his former wife, Norma Lee, four children, and five grandchildren.     

Norma Lee Skidmore would be a resident in the Lutheran Senior’s Home in Omaha, Nebraska, 39 years, an inordinate amount of one’s life.  Late in the afternoon of Friday, 5 April 2013 she spoke to her children and family, then closed her eyes and went to sleep.  Her nurse said she passed away peacefully at 12:06 a.m. Saturday morning.   She was buried at the Kraft Graceland Memorial Park in New Albany, Indiana, under the direction of the Kraft Funeral Home.  It is odd that Chuck wasn’t buried beside her, or vice versa.   She was a proud woman, who took great care of her family and her appearance.  It was habit of hers to carry a puzzle-word-number book in her purse and enjoyed working on them in her leisure time. 

   In October 2015, the Skidmore children are scattered across the country.  The oldest son,  Joey Dale Skidmore, age 68, married for the second time to his Tachikawa A.B. Jr High Girlfriend Susan Justice in 2009, they reconnected through the Yamato High School reunions in in 2005.  His marriages produced no offspring.  He was employed as a nurse supervisor in a hospital ER in Los Angeles, California, until his retirement in 2013.  During the Vietnam War he served in the US Army with an armored division as a medic, 13 months of it in Vietnam in 1969-70.        

Michael George Skidmore, age 65, the second son, related that he moved ten times while he was growing up and attended eight different schools before graduating from Yamato High School in Tokyo, Japan in 1969.  He was hired by the Shell Oil Company Credit Card Department in 1973 and worked there for 27½ years, before losing his job in 2000 when the company outsourced his work.  In 2007, he was in training as a TSA agent at Tulsa International Airport, Oklahoma,   He never completed his training. On 9 December during an ice storm he slipped and fell and fractured the femur in his left leg in two places.   One break was in the upper part of the femur and the other in the lower part.  

Surgeons installed two pins in the lower break to hold the bone together and three pins in the upper.  While he was in the operating room it was discovered that he had been bitten by a recluse spider and his leg had become infected.  Anti-venom and antibiotics shots were administered immediately.   He was confined to a hospital for 3½ weeks.  To make matters worse, during that hospital confinement he contracted a staph infection and developed pneumonia.  When he was released from the hospital he was restricted from squatting, bending or twisting of his body.  He was also restricted from lifting more than a few pounds.   Since he was unable to work he applied for disability, which was granted in 2008.      .

 Mike lives alone in a single family dwelling at 4204 South Chestnut Court in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  He has one son, Nicholas, 38, who lives in Englewood, Colorado.   In 2011 Mike joined the National World War II Glider Pilots Association and attended the annual held in Oklahoma City from 29 September to 1 October 2011.  He took a lot of excellent photographs of the reunion and the following year at the San Antonio, Texas, reunion agreed to be the official photographer of the association.   Each year he has taken hundreds of photographs of reunion activities.   He has also produced first class videos each year with 1940s big band music playing in the background.       

Kathy Lee (Skidmore) Dukes, age 63, lives in Omaha, Nebraska in 2015 and has three children; Christopher, 43, who lives in Simi-Valley, California; Jennifer, 36, who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, and Chelsea, 27, who lives in Simi-Valley, California.  Kathy works fulltime.  Her husband owns a small garage there.  When her mother was alive she talked to her most every day and visited her at least once a week. 

Linda Sue (Skidmore) Byerly, age 61, has one son; Jesse, 31. She and her husband live in Reading, Pennsylvania.            

I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few words about my close friend and fellow glider pilot.  Chuck was eminently qualified for every military assignment he held during and after World War II.  He had a master’s degree in journalism, and was a brilliant historian and journalist.  His military record is filled with superior efficiency reports, letters of commendation, awards and two Air Medals for meritorious service in combat.  Chuck was one of those persons that did everything well, but never received the recognition and promotions he deserved.  I am proud to have called him my friend.  

Data Sources:

(1)  Charles Edward Skidmore, Jr.’s military documents, provided by his son, Mike.
(2)  Letter from Chuck Skidmore, Jr. to me, dated 1 September 1993
(3)   Leon B. Spencer, Harold D. Roth and Robert T. Sutherlin, Jr. 1943 Aircraft Accident Reports  

Note 1:  The Military Occupational Specialty 274 was changed to Air Force Specialty Code 72171

Note 2:   This biography was compiled by the author with considerable information provided by Chuck Skidmore’s son, Mike, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  The original document was published on 8 July 2007.  This is the first revision, published on 25 October 2015, based on new information.  
  






World War II Glider Pilots Life Expectancy in Combat

Life Expectancy of US Army Air Corps Pilots in Combat
During World War II
Bomber Pilots…..
1 Hour, 46 minutes
Fighter Pilots…..
19 Minutes
GLIDER PILOTS…..

17 Seconds

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A story about my dad: A WWII Glider Pilot

A story about my dad: in 1960 my father was a Air Force master sergeant stationed at Tachikawa air base japan , his job was editor of the base newspaper and sometimes he would take me with him when he went out for a story or to take photos.
I was 9 years old and on this day a big general was arriving on base and I went with him to the base terminal to watch his plane land and my dad get his story. When we arrived he took me outside by the fence to stand and wait for him. The plane landed and the general came out and talked on a speaker to the people greeting him. After a while they walked away and got into cars and left.
My father was standing near the plane writing into his notepad and one of the planes pilots got out and walked by him....after a few steps the Captain stopped and backed up talking to my father. They talked for about 10-15 min, then they shook hands and the pilot took a step back and gave a hard salute to my father who returned his salute and then the Captain walked away.
My father walked over and got me and we got into our car. I ask my father: Daddy that man was an officer and your not a officer , why did he salute you? my dad smiled and said.... see the wings I have on my uniform...I said yes, then he said well my wings have a "G" in the middle and that means I was a "Glider Pilot" during World War II and he knew that was "special" and he wanted to thank me for my service. That was the first time my dad ever told me he had been a glider pilot during the war.