WWII GLIDER PILOTS
THE SILENT WARRIOR
Written by Michael G. Skidmore
July 2011 Draft
Michael G. Skidmore
WW II GLIDER PILOTS
1 EXT. Lawrence Kansas, City Airport - Day
It’s June 14, 1941 and a car turns onto a dusty road towards the airport.
OVER, we hear the voice of Chuck Skidmore talking with his college
Roommate Johnny Parker.
Well, today is the day I guess, I will
Take-off by myself and land
Or I take off and crash Land.
(They both Laugh….)
Are you scared?
Yes some times, but Capt Wilkes my
Flying instructor says I am a good
Pilot and will do fine.
(Capt Wilkes is a WW1 veteran and a retired US air mail pilot, who
Still wears his white WW1 flying scarf).
I know I would be scared for sure,
Why do you want to fly anyway?
Well, after we graduate from KU next week
I report July 15, to King City
California for Air Cadet Training School
And 4 months later I will have
A Silver wing on my chest,
A set of bars on my shoulders,
with a girl on each arm.
Yes, but you can get the girls here in Lawrence.
Besides I thought you wanted to be a writer- editor and
Work for a newspaper like your father. (CONTINUED)
I did, but the flying is more exciting,
And the pay is better.
(They both look at each other and smile)
1A CHUCK’S POV
Standing in front of the airport office is Capt Wilkes with his arms folded on his
Chest, He doesn’t look happy.
Capt Wilkes is mad at me.
His number one rule is “always be on time”
And I am 15 min late.
1B EXT. Aircraft sitting next to the office – Day
Capt Wilkes walks towards the aircraft, then stops turns around.
You going to solo today?
Yes Sir, I am ready
(Chuck walks towards him, takes his jacket off)
Then let’s do this, you take off climb to 300 feet
Make a slow turn to the right over the river,
Then head back west, when you’re ready
- turn back into the wind and land.
1C EXT. DAY The aircraft makes it to the grassy runway, powers up and
Slowly starts moving, gaining speed and then lifts into the air.
2 EXT. DAY Standing in front of the airport office,
2. CAPT WILKES AND JOHNNY 3.
End of the runway and touches down
Then taxies up to the hangar office,
We both can see a big smile on CHUCKS face.
3 EXT DAY Inside the Hangar Office,
CAPT WILKES signs CHUCKS
Airman’s Certificate License and CHUCK
Fills out his log book.
CHARLES Don’t you forget to write
Me and Let me know how
You’re doing in your Army Air cadet training.
I won’t and I want to thank you for all
You have done for me these past months.
(They shake hands and hug each other)
3A EXT DAY CAPT WILKES waves to CHUCK and JOHNNY
As they drive away down the
road and they wave back.
4 EXT. King City California Train Station - DAY
(After a 2 day train ride Chuck arrives to start his 10 weeks
Of primary Flying training – This will be 60 hours of flight
Time in a Ryan PT 21 primary trainer and completing
His ground school courses, which included, math and
Navigation with daily physical training)
4A CHUCK’S POV
Chuck gets off the train and sees the sign (AAC office),
He walks up to the window and a Staff Sergeant – looking impeccably
Dressed in his uniform looks up.
Need to see your orders
Sure is hot today
STAFF SERGEANT 4.
4A. (He doesn’t look up, stamps chucks orders, signs the copy)
Then he looks up and hands back the paper.
Walk to the end of the ramp and the bus will be
Leaving in 15 min to the Palo Alto Airport cadet flight school.
We see chuck look towards the end of the ramp.
Then we see the Staff Sergeant get’s up from his chair and lean out the window and with
his index finger point’s, down there.
LAST, we see chuck look down towards the end of the ramp, then he looks back at the
Staff sergeant and with his index finger he points, Got-cha and walks away.
9 weeks later
(Lights are out in the barracks and Chuck is under his bunk
Writing a letter home to his parents, with his flash light)
5. EXT. BARRACKS - NIGHT
Dear Mom and Dad, I graduated today from primary flight school and have
my orders to report September 29, at Moffett Field, California for my
advanced training courses where I will be flying a BT-13,
it’s a plane with a 450 horsepower
engine in it. I have some sad news to tell you,
my friend Shorty, the one from Texas was killed 2 days ago
while landing. There was a cross wind when he tried to land
and the wheels hit the ground hard and his plane
bounced and cart wheeled and ended upside down
on him, and he broke his neck. He was so funny all the time,
everyone including the training officers would tease
him all the time, asking how anyone that short
could get into the air corps. He always was the
first in line for anything. Everyman in the company,
including the camp commander signed a card to be
sent to his parents. Don’t worry about me,
I am being very safe and always listen to what
the instructor tells me. Your loving son Chuck.
5 weeks later Moffett field, California (CONTINUED)
Chuck is given a flight requirement “Check Ride” and fails 5.
6. EXT, WESTERN UNION OFFICE - TELEGRAM - DAY
Dad, washed out of flying cadet training,
Arrive Columbus Kansas by train
November 6, 7am, love Chuck
On December 7, 1941 Chuck was home in Columbus Kansas, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor-
On December 30, Chuck would enlist in the Army Air Corps for the second time at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, this time for bombardier training. He was ordered to the Air Crew Replacement Training Center at Ellington Field, Texas, for his initial training. His training continued there until February 24 1942, at which point he was transferred to Victorville Army Air Field, California, for advanced training. He began training there on February 28, 1942 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 April 25, 1942.
Shortly thereafter back at home in Columbus Kansas, he was working for his father at the daily newspaper and read a Associated Press wire about the Army needing Volunteers for the newly formed Air Force Glider Program , Charles immediately wired Washington DC, volunteering for the program.
On July 13, 1942, for the third time in a year Chuck enlisted in the Army Air Force at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, this time as a private. Eleven days later, on July 24, 1942, he was ordered to Sherman Field at Fort Leavenworth. He remained there until August 24, 1942 when he received movement orders transferring him to the Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio for pre-glider training.
On September 7, 1942, chuck and his classmates were relocated to the glider pilot student pool at Randolph Field, Texas. Chuck remained at Randolph until October 6, 1942 when orders finally came through transferring him to the 21st AAF Glider Training detachment at Pittsburg Kansas, for pre-glider training, which was located a few miles from Chuck’s birthplace Columbus.
Chuck received 30 hours of pre-glider training at Pittsburg, completing his flying requirements on November 2, 1942. Chuck continued with another 40 hours of elementary flight training and 15 hours of dead stick day and night landings. Chucks class was held at Pittsburg until December 28, 1942 because there no openings in a basic training school. To pass the time the students were given close order drill, daily calisthenics and classroom instructions in military discipline and hygiene.
On January 3, 1942 chucks detachment received orders transferring them to Vinita Oklahoma, assigning them to the 27th AAF Glider Training Detachment. The following day they were assigned to Class 43-3. Because no military facilities were available the students were billeted in the courthouse annex in town, a single story brick building that had been converted into an open bay barracks to accommodate 200 students. The student’s mess hall was a converted café in town. On January 4, 1943 Chuck and his classmates were promoted to staff sergeant, which helped their morale considerably.
Day 1 Glider Training – Burke Flying Service – Vinita Oklahoma 6.
( Basic glider training at Vinita was conducted by Burke Flying
Service under contract to the Army Air Force. Ironically the airfield
Was located next to an insane asylum, a coincidence that elicited a
Chuckle from the students. Glider students at Vinita 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 February 3, 1943. Four days later
on February 7, he and his classmates were off to South Plains Army
Flying School at Lubbock, Texas, for advanced glider training.)
7 . EXT. Day training class arrive on the bus
NEXT, men line up outside the bus for formation.
Hi my names CHUCK, what’s yours?
I’m Joe ……Wonder where the gliders are?
That’s them over there.
(Laughing) that’s nice, but those don’t have engines in them….
What do you think a glider is?
We take off and fly to the battle,
then we turn off the engine
and glide in and land so
they don’t hear us..
Where are you from, you volunteered and you
didn’t know what you were going to be flying? (CONTINUED)
7. JOE 7.
I am from West Virginia, Valley of the
4 Rivers, Franklin County ……but how do we get off
They attach a nylon rope and another plane
Pulls us off the ground and in the air.
Smiling…..another plane …with a big engine….
Is going to pull the glider up.
Yes, won’t it be exciting.
Do we have guns on the plane,
to shoot at the enemy?
No, but maybe you can use your 45 sidearm
And shoot at them out the window.
The good news is, we do get a Parachute,
But I have heard that no
One has ever made it out of a glider and
Have the chute open before
You would hit the ground.
(Has a worried look on his face as they come to attention)
(While Chuck was at Vinita it was not uncommon for Gliders to be released
Prematurely because of broken tow lines. When this occurred the
Student pilot simply looked for an open field large enough
To accommodate the glider and landed there. On this day
While waiting his turn to fly, Chuck noticed one of his
Classmates being towed off on a sole flight. The flight was brief
Because hardly had the Glider become airborne than
The tow rope broke. Because of the low altitude the pilot
Could only continue straight ahead and land, which in this case
Was on the grounds of the insane asylum
3 weeks into glider training – 8.
EXT. 8 OPEN FIELD DAY student glider practice session
Who is flying?
SSgt STUDENT PILOT
I think its Joe’s turn
(The glider is yanked off the grassy field and into the air.
Then a load POP, the tow line has broken. The glider disappears beyond the trees. )
8A GLIDER – JOE and co-pilot
Oh no, the tow line has snapped,
look for a place to land… fast.
Watch the air speed.
I see a spot straight ahead.
Watch out for the tree tops…. There I see an open
Area straight ahead. Watch it, were going to
Hit the trees.
(The Glider skims the tree tops and heads for a empty grassy area on the grounds of a
large white building-The Oklahoma State Insane Asylum, coming to a stop just short of hitting a elderly man sitting on a bench, - The man is dressed in a white gown reading a newspaper and causally turns around to see the front of the glider 2 feet from his bench, he gets up and looks at the pilots through the cockpit window and smiles. As the pilot gets out of the gilder to check for damage the elderly man in the white gown is looking the glider over wing tip to wing tip.)
EXT. 8B - Asylum front yard – Day
Where is your engine?
The planes I fly don’t have engines.
ELDERLY MAN (CONTINUED)
8B. (Motions towards two hospital staff members) 9.
I have another one for you….Come on in Brother….
(On April 1, 1942 chuck 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. Gliders at
Lubbock were towed by twin-engine Lockheed C-60 Lodestars.
Chuck completed his flight and classroom training on April 27, 1943,
Having logged a total of almost 16 hours and 22 landings in the CG-4A,
almost half of it as first pilot. He was discharged as a Staff Sergeant on April 29
for the purpose of accepting an appointment as Flight Officer on April 30, 1943.
The Flight officer rank was new in the Army Air Corps, and was the equivalent to a junior
Grade warrant officer. The pay was the same as a second lieutenant, with an 20%
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 one’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 commander, 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 April 14, 1943, officially
Rated him a glider pilot, effective April 30, 1943, and Paragraph 60 of the same
Order required him to participate in regular and frequent flights upon entry into
active duty. From that date forward, when someone ask him what the “G” in his
wings stood for, he usually answered, “Guts.”
On April 30, 1943, special orders were issued transferring the newly promoted Flight
Officer to Louisville, Kentucky, with the 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.” Chuck would undergo additional flight training at
Bowman and would be introduced for the first time to ground combat training.
Because of the lack of CG-4A gliders for tactical training it was necessary for glider
Pilots to train in light aircraft. Chucks first flight at Bowman was on May 11, 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 object
Was to just clear the first barrier, land the glider, and stop it before reaching the second
Barrier. When glider pilots weren’t flying they were taking 20 mile hikes with full field
Packs, practicing hand-to-hand combat and learning ground fighting tactics.)
9. EXT. American Legion Hall Dance - Night JUNE 1, 1943 10.
( Chuck meets his soon to be wife Norma Lee)
10. INT. NIGHT - In line American Legion Hall – Chuck and friend Leon
Leon, after a month of nothing, its
Wonderful to see so many girls in
One place isn’t it?
Man, you got that right.
11. INT Dance line
Excuse me, you too girls by your selves?
Yes we are….My name is Norma and this is Betty
My name is Chuck, this is my friend Leon.
Would you like to sit with us?
Yes that would be nice, thank you
12. INT Front Door
How much, I am paying for the girls.
13. INT Table NORMA
Wow, the music is really good tonight.
Leon, when you catch the waiter, order
us a round beers…Ok.
Norma did you come here often?
I try to come every week end, but my (CONTINUED)
13. NORMA (CONTINUED) 11.
Parents will only let me come if my
Girl friend is with me.
Where do you live?
I live about 3 blocks away…..Tell me what do you
Do in the Army?
I am in the Army Air Corps, I am a glider pilot.
What’s a glider?
It’s a plane without a motor in it.
Laughing……That’s a line I haven’t
Ever heard…..that’s funny.
What do you really do?
I really fly a glider, we take men and supplies
In, sometime’s behind enemy lines.
And how do you do this without a motor in your plane?
Another airplane pulls us off the ground and takes
Us to where we need to be and then I disconnect the
Tow line and we glide in, so the enemy doesn’t hear
Us, or we hope the enemy doesn’t hear us….
See this silver wing on my chest, with the big “G” that
Stands for Glider or some say it stands for Guts.
Yes but isn’t that dangerous?
Yes it can be, that’s why it’s for volunteers only. (CONTINUED)
13. CHUCK (CONTINUED) 12.
Besides its only dangerous if the enemy shoots at
me, and I try to land before they can see me.
That’s why they call us the “Silent Warriors”.
You must be a brave person…..
Oh yes, very brave, handsome and strong……smiling…..
(The band is playing Glenn Miller music and the dance floor is over filling -
Over the next 8 weekends many spent at the Red Devil Tavern, just across from
Bowman Field or taking in a movie Chuck and Norma are always together and after a very
Short courtships are married on August 3, 1943. The couple set up housekeeping
at Norma’s Parents house in New Albany for the duration of Chucks training.)
14. EXT - DAY
15. INT. Cockpit
Chuck –Co Pilot and First Pilot Flight Officer McNally are on participating in a low level
Tactical training flight in a Aeronca L-3C aircraft. McNally who is flying the aircraft, strikes an auxiliary power line damaging the aircraft, the propeller, the landing gear and the engine, with the cockpit windscreen being broken. The accident review board determined that the
Accident was 100% pilot error, and was duly noted on McNally’s next performance report.
Chuck, check the map and see how much further we need
To go in this direction.
Looks like another 10 miles or so; it shows here, power lines
But I haven’t seen any, be sure and watch for them. What’s
Your altitude? The Capt said to stay about 500 feet.
Were at 200 feet
Pull up fast. (CONTINUED)
15. McNally 13.
OhOh is that a power line? Hold on…..he powers up the engine as the plane skims the power line.
And immediately starts down towards the ground.
Over there to the right, looks like a corn field.
(The aircraft engine sputters and the plane continues in
A steep dive, just leveling out as they land in the corn field,
Fortunately neither man was injured).
16. EXT. DAY Bowman Field
September 10 1943, this morning a flight of 30 light aircraft take off in trail
On a round-robin flight to Lexington, Kentucky and return. It is listed on the
Training report as a simulated glider combat mission. Both legs of the flight
Will be flown at 700 feet. The Bowman to Lexington leg was uneventful, but
On the return flight tragedy strikes. During a left turn directly into the sun,
Two aircraft in the middle of the formation collide, doing major damage to
Both aircraft. The first aircraft went into a flat spin and crashed in the field
Below. The pilot died from blunt force trauma when the aircraft impacted the
Ground. The other pilot fared no better. He was able to exit the aircraft and
Pull his ripcord, but was too low to the ground for his main parachute to deploy.
He was killed instantly on impact with the ground. His aircraft crashed nearby
And burned. Chuck flying near the end of the formation sees the 2 planes
go down and immediately pulls back on the stick to gain altitude and instantly
sees a clear field he can land in just ahead.
As Chuck runs onto the adjacent field he sees another aircraft making a
Landing but suddenly it makes a violent pitch downward and crash into the
Ground, hitting a fence and then a ditch before coming to rest on its side. As
Chuck gets to the aircraft he sees two young men trying to get the pilot
Out. Also arriving are two other glider pilots that have landed to help. Chuck
Looks in the cockpit and realizes it’s his friend Spencer.
17. INT FIELD DAY - DAMAGED AIRCRAFT , The aircraft motor has been ripped from its mounting And has been pushed back through the instrument panel and
is resting on the pilot whose flight suit is soaked with leaking fuel.
17A. Aircraft Cockpit
Oh My God , Spencer can you hear me. (CONTINUED)
17.A SPENCER 14.
(Unconscious and moaning)
Speaking to the two young men, (get back immediately, and
Get rid of those cigarettes. There is leaking fuel all over here
And the ground, you will start a fire and kill us all. )
GLIDER PILOT 1
We have got to get this engine off of him, hits burning him
And it’s going to catch this fuel on fire.
GLIDER PILOT 2
(Takes off his flight jacket) cover his legs so they don’t get
Burned and let’s rip the back of the seat off and use it
To lift the engine up so we can get him out.
(For the second time chuck tells the two men to move back
And put out the cigarettes.)
Hey I just told you two to get back and put out the cigarettes, NOW
Looks like his leg and arm are broken, be careful when you lift
The instrument panel up.
(Chuck looks up and around to see the two men still
Looking into the aircraft, he stands up,
and draws his 45 cal sidearm out and points it at the two men.)
You two back up real slow and don’t drop those
Cigarettes on the ground or I will shoot you
(The two men backed up slowly and then run away)
17B. DAY INT OPEN FIELD
(After thirty minutes or so they are able to get the engine off of Spencer, freeing his legs and arms and removing him from the aircraft still unconscious. He
Was placed on a blanket that someone had provided. Shortly thereafter a
Military ambulance carrying a doctor arrived from Bowman Field. The
Doctor examined Spencer, started a IV to prevent shock, and we help put him into the
18. Ambulance for the trip back to the base hospital. Spencer’s 15.
Injuries included a brain concussion, and crushed right foot, lacerations
And puncture wounds all over his arms and legs, and abrasions galore. He
Remained semiconscious for two days, suffered partial amnesia and was
A patient for eleven months in three different military hospitals. He was placed
Back on flying status on August 5, 1944.
18. EXT DAY BARRACKS
Skidmore your to report to the
Base Commander’s Office Immediately.
The Sherriff is there, says you threaten to
Shoot 2 men yesterday.
18A. INT HQ OFFICE BASE COMMANDER
Sir reporting as ordered.
Flight Officer Skidmore these men say you
Threaten to shoot them yesterday, is
Yes Sir I did.
For what reasons?
During a flight training accident
yesterday, I landed my aircraft
and was helping get Flight Officer
Spencer out of his plane. These two men were
the first to arrive at the crash site, but when
I arrived they had cigarettes dangling
from their mouths. I immediately ask them
to put out the cigarettes
and to back up because of the fuel
leaking from the wings. A few
minutes later I ask them
a second time with no results.
My third request I drew my side
Arm and told them
to slowly move away or
I would shoot them. (CONTINUED)
18A. BASE COMMANDER 16.
Sherriff please get these two idiot’s out
of my office. It’s a good thing I
wasn’t there, because I would ask
them one time….then I would
of shot you both in the Ass.
Flight Officer Skidmore, you may
Return to your duties.
(Chuck completed his training at Bowman, now called the Glider Crew Training
Center, in Mid October 1943. On October21, the 1st Troop Carrier Command
Issued orders assigning Chuck and 227 other Bowman Field graduates to the
38th Troop Carrier Squadron at Camp Mackall in Hoffman, North Carolina.
Everyone departed the following day by rail, bus and private conveyance,
Each granted five days leave before reporting to their duty station on
October 29, 1943. Their reassignment orders specified that’s friends or
Relatives were prohibited from either accompanying or joining them at their
New base. Everyone was certain that upon completion of tactical training they
Would be headed overseas. Chucks wife, Norma, would remain at her parents
home during his absence. Foe the next several weeks Chuck underwent
intensive combat training, usually hauling glider troopers, airborne weaponry, or
vehicles of the 101st Airborne Division from nearby Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
On November 26 1943, his combat training at Mackell completed, orders were
Issued transferring Chuck and a large contingent of glider pilots base there to the
439th Troop Carrier Group temporally based at nearby Pope Field, North
Carolina. When Chuck reported to the 439th he was assigned to the 91st Troop Group
Squadron, which promptly divided the glider pilots into 50-man flights for training
Purposes. Chuck was assigned to flight “C”. Many of the C-47 pilots 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 at Pope Field was conducted at nearby Laurinburg-Maxton Army base,
In early February, 1944 the air echelon of the 439th was ordered to Bear 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 and two of its squadrons, the 91st and 92nd, departed Bear Field in their
C47 transports on February 19, 1944. The remaining two squadrons, the 93rd and
The 94th , did not arrive at Balderton until March 6, 1944. The airdrome was located
2 miles south of Newark, England in the midlands. Chuck 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 February 28, 1944. After eleven days at sea
The ship arrived at Liverpool, England on March 10, 1944. From there they traveled
By rail to Balderton where they would remain until April 26, 1944. On that date
The group was relocated to the airdrome at Upottery, England.
After the Group arrived 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
D-Day invasion of Normandy, France the 439th was relocated to Taunton in
Southern England. On June 3, 1944 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 had arrived. You could feel the tension in the air. Chuck would not fly
The D-Day mission on June 6, 1944, but would fly in glider trooper
Reinforcements of the 101st Airborne Division the following day, D-Day + 1.
19. EXT JUNE 7, 4:00 AM Awakened by CQ (charge of quarters
Let’s go guys, Mark, JC, Ken get up,
Let’s get to the chow hall while
The line is short and the
Food is hot, wonder what they
Are serving us for our
I don’t care what it is as long
as I get Large portions.
20. EXT 4:30 AM Mess Hall Line
I can smell fried Eggs….we haven’t
Had Eggs since we left the USA.
Look….Chocolate Cake, well
I would not of thought of
That combination….but it
Smells good doesn’t it.
21. EXT 5:15 AM - Glider Pilots Briefing Room
Things got better last night, the Germans
Haven’t brought up their tanks yet and
And our units are holding their ground. (CONTINUED)
21. COMPANY COMMANDER (CON’T) 18.
There is still a lot of confusion though,
Many of the paratroopers were dropped
In the wrong zones, so were not
Sure where everybody is located at.
Your mission is the same as always,
get your gliders to the assigned
Landing zones and unload your
Men and materials as quickly
Sir; what do we do after we land
Where do we go?
(A Brief period of silence)
I don’t know, I guess we never
Really thought of that.
(All glider pilot volunteers were told
When they enlisted that on
Combat missions the
Casualty rates were expected to
(“RUN LIKE HELL”)
Laughter from the group…….
Make it back to the coast
As best you can.
Also…. all the C-47 crews have
been told: The Glider Pilots will
will release when the pilot of
C-47 Leading the formation
Starts a gradual turn to the
Left to return to the coast.
“If any C-47 pilots cuts his
Glider off during an
Invasion without sufficient (CONTINUED)
COMPANY COMMANDER (CON’T)
Reason, and there shouldn’t
Be any, he’d better keep on
Going because if he comes
Back here, I’ll be waiting for him”
God bless you all, it’s been a
Honor to be your commander.
22. EXT 5:45 AM Flight Line
(A Long line of Gliders on the sides with a C-47
Aircraft moving onto the
Center of the runway ready
To hook up to the front glider.)
23. INT - CHUCKS GLIDER – Paratroopers were already seated on both sides of the cabin
As Chuck and his Co-pilot – JC make it to their seats.
There’s no use of you too
Fastening on those
Parachutes because we’ll
Never let you use them.
Don’t worry Lieutenant we
Only bring them on board
To use them as seat cushions.
(Chuck drapes the shoulder
straps over the back of the seats)
23A. INT. Glider Cockpit Day-Morning - (Approaching the Normandy Peninsula)
(C-47 Pilot via Telephone from the Glider)
Anderson what’s making all
Those are P-51s dropping their
You’re a damn liar, (CONTINUED)
23A. CHUCK (CON’T) 20.
There aren’t that many tip
Tanks in the whole Army
Air Force…..They must be German
Shells falling into the water.
24. EXT Day - Glider landing zone, 1 1/2 Mile from St Mere Eglise
25. INT Glider Cockpit
What’s are altitude?
C0-Pilot - JC
Cut us loose.
(the tow line is released and the glider turns
Into the landing zone)
There’s the field…
(Into chucks ear a loud voice is heard….BUSTER)
Chucks turns his head and shoulder for split second, then back concentrating on
Landing the glider.
Machine gun fire hits the glider passing thru the cockpit
Floor and stitching the wing to the tip.
CO-PILOT - JC
The Germans have flooded the field.
Hold on were going to hit hard.
(The glider lands in 3 feet of water
And quickly comes to a stop, the paratrooper’s
Exit immediately out the side door)
CO-PILOT - JC
Chuck are you hurt?
No, how about your?
CO-PILOT - JC
Look behind your seat….
(Behind chucks seatback is a line of bullet
Holes, just where his head was?)
You sure you OK? (CONTINUED)
25. CHUCK 21
Did you yell at me as
we cut loose from the C-47….
Calling me BUSTER.
CO-PILOT - JC
BUSTER was a nickname
My grandfather called me.
If I hadn’t turned my head that
machine gun spray would
of taken my head off.
Guess my grandfather was
Looking out for me…..
Let’s get the hell out of here, fast.
26. EXT Glider in the water -
NEXT Chuck and his Co-pilot quickly take off their flack
Jackets and rip a large hole in the fabric on the side of gilder and slide
Out into the water. About 12 feet away another glider is in the water
And the pilot is franticly looking for his co-pilot, seems he still
had his flak jacket when He went into the water and into a
deep hole. Only his hands were above the water, the pilot pulls
him up by the hair, as he spits out a mouth of dirty water. Bullets are flying
everywhere hitting the water and tearing up the side of the gilder.
Lets head for the edge row over there.
27. EXT DAY We see chuck and his Co-pilot hitting the dirt next to 20 paratroopers
That are taking machine gun fire from a hidden bunker. After a hail of
Return rifle fire and a bazooka hit, the resistance stopped, then a
Single shot rang out from the bunker followed by laughter. Soon 12
Polish conscripts appeared waving a white flag. It seems they didn’t
Want To fight the Americans soldiers, so they shot the German
Sergeant that was in charge.
28. EXT DAY - Farm House
In the house, anybody…come out
With your hands up.
Don’t shoot; I am a Paratrooper, injured
I have a woman with me… (CONTINUED)
28. INT. FARM HOUSE - DAY 22.
Hello Americans, this way…..
NEXT - BEDROOM AMERICAN SOLDIER
(Seems the paratrooper had jumped the night before
And had fractured his leg when he fell through the
Thatched roof of the farm house. The Young French
Was caring for him, so he just lay there waiting for
The war to come to him.)
29. EXT Nightfall Chuck and his Co-pilot have left the Paratrooper and
Are headed back to the beach, when they decide to
Stop for the night.
Come on I see some people digging over there.
The two of them join the group in digging a spot
For the night to sleep in.
Hey….. you two can’t dig in here.
Because we’re starting a temporary American
(That did it; they went elsewhere down the road
To a apple grove
At sunlight they hear people marching down the road
Ahead, Chuck takes off the safety on his Thompson Machine gun.
It’s some US Army Infantry moving up the line.
30. EXT Side of the road - ( A group of soldiers yelling …. They have 6 SS German Soldiers
Lined up and are searching them, they want to know if they are from
St Mere Eglise, because they had found body’s of American
Paratroopers that had been shot before they reached the ground, many still
Hanging from trees and buildings around the town. Then American
30. Cont’d 23.
Cigarettes and money are found on three of them. The American
Paratroopers immediately line them up and slit their throats
One by one. As the column of men marching by watched, no one stops
Or says a word, they just look ahead and move down the road.
Come on JC, let’s get going….
(Over the next 24 hours the two of them spend time
With a 105mm artillery crew, providing perimeter
Guard, and then with a communications outfit.)
31. EXT DAY - 101st Airborne Command post. – Captains Desk
Sir, were Glider Pilots with the 439th
Troop Group, were looking for
Pilots from our unit that
Might have passed here today.
Yes, some of them are here. I
Sent them next door to
Get a sandwich and something
To drink. Be sure to
Fill up your canteens, there is little
Fresh water in the area.
Your all being assigned to
Guard some German
Prisoners down at Omaha beach,
And then you will accompany them
On a (LST- Landing Ship Tank)
back to England. Report to the
Thank you Sir. – Salutes
32. EXT DAY - OMAHA BEACH - BEACH MASTER
Salutes – Sir, We were sent down from the
101st command post
32. CHUCK (Cont’d) 24.
To help guard some German prisoners
and accompany them back to England.
Ok, I need two of you to stay here
The rest of you spread out down
The barbed wire all the way
To the end. No one! is to
cross over or beyond that wire, if
they do, you shoot them, don’t kill
them just wing them, to let
the others know you mean
business, unless it’s one of
those SS Officer Bastards, then
you have my permission to
blow their Dam head off.
33. EXT DAY - LCI (LANDING CRAFT,INFANTRY)
Ok we will take the first 50
on board out to the LST.
Ok, move up the first group.
(A Army Major steps up with a group of prisoners)
Can you take this group?
Salutes - Yes Sir, we have more LCI’s
On the way.
I will be needing all of your rifles
As you board.
Sir we have to turn in our
Weapons to Supply when
We get back to the Air field.
It doesn’t make sense to
take them with you when we
need them here. I will also
need all the extra ammo your
(It made sense so we all surrendered our rifles,
And kept our 45 sidearms, However once we got
Back to our home base in England the Supply
Officer couldn’t see the wisdom of the
Whole thing and threatened to take
Action to make us pay for them, luckily
Our Commander vetoed that idea.)
34. DAY ON BOARD – (LST) – JUST OFF THE SHORELINE
Sitting near Chucks LST is a Oil Tanker that takes
A Torpedo hit from a German E-Boat, The
Ship breaks apart and sinks within a few
Minutes. There is only one survivor
a man and his dog. A few moments later
We see a British Ground
Attack aircraft fire on and sink
The E-Boat, the GI’s on board,
Start clapping and yelling.
34A. DAY -(LST) WATER RESCUE
Miraculously, the German commander of the E-Boat
Is recued by the LST: He has
A severe leg wound. Chuck helps carry him
to the operating table below deck where an
American medic tends to the wound.
When the medic wants to cut apart
The officer’s sealskin pants, he explodes
With anger, so Chuck and the medic
removed his pants which must of (CONTINUED)
34A (Continued) 26.
Been dreadfully painful, but the German
Never uttered a sound and sat stoically
as the medic tended his wound.
35. NIGHT - LST - MIDNIGHT MEAL
Handing out K-rations to the German prisoners
NO, NO, says something in German.
Anybody know what’s wrong with this Kraut…..
The Major says he wants better food
WOUNDED ARMY SARGEANT
Corporal would you please tell the Major
That if he doesn’t eat our rations…
Myself and a few other men here
Will stuff them down his throat, cans and all.
36. NIGHT - LST BELOW DECK
The LST was a mess; they had 1,200 German prisoners on
board and only 4 GI cans to serve as toilets. Among the 1,200
Were several officers who were pretty well subdued, except
For one Nazi storm trooper. This lieutenant insisted that
Every German prisoner passing by him give him the
Nazi salute. CHUCK finally got tired of seeing this
And told the Corporal to tell the Lieutenant
- without the preliminary Nazi Salute - that if
He, the Nazi, saluted one more time, he (Chuck)
Intended to emphasize his point with his Combat Knife……
And that was the end of the saluting.
37. EXT DAY - British Port – Unloading Prisoners
How was it over there? (CONTINUED)
37. CHUCK 27.
It was bad….I lost a lot
Of good friends this week.
Chuck takes a few steps and turns
around and looks towards
France……And Thanks God for
Surviving his first combat mission
Against the enemy.
(JULY 5 1944, IN ACCORDANCE WITH GENERAL ORDER 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 IN COMBAT AND A BRONZE
ARROWHEAD TO THE EUROPEAN-AFRICAN-MIDDLE EASTERN
MEDAL FOR A COMBAT LANDING. )
THE MAGNIFICENT SPIRIT AND ENTHUSIASM DISPLAYED BY THESE
INDIVIDUALS COMBINED WITH SKILL, COURAGE AND DEVOTION
TO DUTY IS REFLECTED IN THEIR BRILLIANT OPERATION OF
UNARMED AND UNARMORED TROOP CARRIER AIRCRAFT AT
MINIMUM ALTIDUDES AND AIR SPEEDS, IN UNFAVORABLE
WEATHER CONDITIONS, OVER WATER, AND INTO THE FACE
OF VIGOROUS ENEMY OPPOSITION, WITH NO POSSIBILITY
OF EMPLOYING EVASIVE ACTION, TO SPEARHEAD THE
ALLIED INVASION OF THE CONTINENT AND TO SUPPORT AIR
AND GROUND FORCES IN THE CRITICAL PERIOD WHICH
FOLLOWED. THEIR RESPECTIVE DUTY ASSIGNMENTS
WERE PERFORMED IN SUCH AN ADMIRABLE MANNER AS
TO PRODUCE EXCEPTIONAL RESULTS IN THE GREATEST AND
MOST SUCCESFUL AIRBORNE OPERATION IN THE HISTORY
OF WORLD AVIATION.
SIGNED: GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER – SUPREME
(Training continued at Upottery until 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 September 17, 1944. (CONTINUED)
38. EXT. DAY OPERATION MARKET GARDEN 28.
September 17, 1944 - D-Day, Chuck
is driven to his glider in a jeep…..he arrives and
starts his pre-flight check. He sees his glider
is carrying a ¼ ton jeep trailer covered with
a tarp. Chuck ask the loadmaster what was in
the trailer and is told 800 pounds of
land mines, but not to worry because it
would take the weight of a sizable vehicle
to detonate them, small consolation he
Thought. Three glider Troopers of the 82nd
Airborne Division were also included
in his load.
39. EXT. OUTSIDE OF THE GLIDER
(Flags down the crew chief),
Where’s my co-pilot?
Smiles…. The Colonel decided against using two pilots on
40. INT COCKPIT CHUCK
(Chuck is next in line for hookup, when someone
Appears climbing over the jeep and into
The co-pilots seat. In full combat dress
And carrying a Thompson Machine gun
is Warrant Officer Walter F. Domanski,
The assistant engineering officer of the
91st TC squadron. )
What the hell you doing here?
Hi, got room for one more don’t you…..
Yes , but you’re not supposed to be here.
I am tired of missing all the action…… Big smile (CONTINUED)
What happens when the Colonel finds out
Your AWOL and on the way to Holland?
Well, guess he will send someone to
come and get me. But they have to
find me first.
(The four hour flight to Holland was
Very long and exhausting for Chuck
Being at the controls the entire trip,
his flight suit was wet from
perspiration, beads of water are
showing inside his watch crystal)
41. EXT THE HOLLAND COAST – COCKPIT
Look…. the Germans are shooting at
The column…….Just then the C-47 Tow plane
In front of Chucks glider takes a
direct hit in the right engine
and goes into a steep dive pulling
the glider with him.
Oh my god, cut loose, cut loose…….
(He watches the two planes as they
Plummet towards the ground)
Do you see any parachutes?
Is anybody getting out?
No, Nobody got out…… I didn’t see any chutes.
I always knew you wouldn’t have enough
Time to get out of these gliders.
I guess that’s why we use these
Parachutes for cushions…..
Besides, I wouldn’t leave the men in the back anyhow.
(Near the end of the 90 mile overland portion
of the flight the glider began to take machine gun
ground fire from a windmill, as the tracer
bullets came up it look like a fiery whip coming
towards him. Fortunately no one was hit
or the glider damage.)
Chuck receives a Green light
from the tow plane and releases the Glider.
Turning to the left he quickly spots his
Landing zone. As he circles towards
The field below more ground fire is
Coming his way. As he makes his
approach he sees another C-47
tow plane do down trailing
In an effort to evade the enemy fire coming
Up at him Chuck put’s the glider into a steep dive,
Quickly picking up speed.
Chuck feels someone rapping on his helmet, its
One of his passengers, a burly airborne sergeant
Hey….Slow this S.O.B. Down!
What the hell………..
Not sure what to do, chuck continues flying
The glider towards the landing zone.
The sergeant starts pounding Chuck in the back……
Causing the glider to begin dropping even faster.
41. COCKPIT 31.
Resting his Thompson Machine gun on the
The sergeants shoulders …….
If you don’t get back in the back I’ll
Slow you down permanently.
Since the sergeant 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 the back of the CG-4A.
Thanks, Walter…I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
42. EXT LANDING ZONE HOLLAND 1:30PM
Chuck lands the glider with no injury’s to him or
The passengers, but the field he has landed in
Is overgrown with giant Beets, which have
Torn up the bottom of the glider.
Chuck helps unload the trailer and
A few minutes a jeep arrives to tow the
Walter, good luck guy, you keep your
head down and your ass further down…..
they both laugh, then shake hands.
So long Chuck, thanks for the free ride…….
Chuck starts his trek back to the
coast and then to his base in England.
Walking most of the way and
Catching a ride when he can.
The end of the third day chucks finds
A burned out farm house and
43. EXT FARM HOUSE (CONTINUED) 32.
A collapsed potato shed with some
Empty potato sacks, which he uses to cover
himself with for the night.
Daylight arrives and just as chuck is ready to leave,
Germans are arriving in a truck. His
Heart is beating so fast and the sweat is starting
To run down his face into his eyes.
He doesn’t move, there is a German officer
Giving orders, then he hears more trucks. Within
A few minutes later they move out back
on the road, going in the direction chuck has
just come from.
44. EXT EMPTY ROAD
Sounds of a vehicle coming towards him
Very fast…..he get down in the ditch…..
Its a jeep with an American Infantryman
Driving, Chuck jumps up waving….
The jeep comes to comes to a screeching halt
Raising a small cloud of dust and dirt.
What the world you doing out here alone,
I was ready to shoot at you …jumping
Up like that. You alone?
Yes I am .
45. EXT JEEP - DAY JEEP DRIVER
You know the Germans are right
Down the road! Get in here…
Man you are lucky, if you had missed me
You would have been dead or in a prison camp.
Yes, I had a close call with some
German trucks Early this morning.
(The jeep raises dirt and gravel as the
driver takes off down the road as fast
as he can go towards the coastal area
and the American and British lines.)
46. EXT DAY - AIR CORPS AIRFIELD
The driver drops Chuck off at a temporary
Air evacuation Air Field.
Corporal, Thanks for stopping for me…….
Salutes…..Good Luck Sir…..
47. EXT DAY - AIRFIELD OPERATIONS SHACK
Salutes….Sir I am with the 439th glider
Group, can I catch a ride back to England?
Are you C-47 Rated?
Yes Sir, co-pilot.
Right outside, they are loading
some wounded, you tell Captain
Fleck, I sent you to fly Co-pilot this trip. (CONTINUED)
48. EXT DAY – C-47 COCKPIT 34.
Captain Fleck. I am flying Co-Pilot this trip.
Welcome aboard…..I heard it was bad for you
Glider pilots…..was it
Well…. I saw one glider go down, still
Attached to the C-47, and had another C-47
Fly just over my landing zone on fire….I could see
The Tail Number, I knew the Pilot, there were no survivors.
It should be an easy trip back….
Will you do the pre flight check,
And we will get out of here and have a beer
At the officers club in England
In a few hours.
49. EXT DAY - C-47 TAKING OFF
FADE IN COCKPIT Pilots powers up engines
TAKE OFF FADE OUT
Of the 6,500 Men who volunteered for the Army Air Corps Glider Program, at the war’s end only 3,400 would be going home to their families.
The Life Expectancy of Pilots in Combat was:
BOMBER PILOTS – 1 HR, 46 MIN
FIGHTER PILOTS – 19 MIN
GLIDER PILOTS – 17 SECONDS
As of July 2009, there are less than 150 World War II Combat Glider Pilots still alive.
Michael G. Skidmore
4204 South Chestnut Ct
Broken Arrow Oklahoma 74011