The World War II Airborne Demonstration Team’s Fall Jump School
2017 culminated in Open Hangar Day Oct. 28.
Military displays and memorabilia were displayed by various vendors and historians. Members of the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team were dressed in WWII uniforms and attire. Even some visitors got into the spirit of World War II and dressed up.
David Brothers from the Air Wing Executive Office for the WWII Airborne Demonstration Team gave a brief history of the beginning of the 82nd Airborne Demonstration Team in a previous interview.
“The Airborne Demonstration Team was the idea of Richard Wolf,” Brothers said. “He’s a retired Master Sgt. in the Army. He started off in his back yard because he had no facility. Mostly it was local guys and they jumped out of little airplanes. This was in 1996. The team acquired Boogie Baby about 3 years after the team was started, probably about 2000, roughly.
“Our motto is ‘Remember, Honor, Serve,’ and what we want to emphasize is that we’re here to honor all of our veterans and their service, not just World War II Veterans. We portray the World War II Airborne Soldier because it exemplifies the innovation, the aggressiveness, the ingenuity of the modern American Soldier.”
Brothers also said the team is looking at expanding their operations.
“We have dreams and hopes for the future,” Brothers said. “We think we’ll enhance our mission. We’d like to build a replica World War II Army base with different buildings that exemplify the type of structures used in World War II. Long term, we’re actually hoping to build a replica European village. It depends on what we can work out with the city.
“It would not only enhance our mission, but it would bring more people to Frederick, bring in revenue and we hope it would create jobs. We’ve had talks with the chamber. There are no formal plans yet because it depends on revenue streams. We’d love to make downtown Frederick a typical World War II americana; clean up and expand empty store fronts, redecorate them, start getting people like vintage car clubs coming in, so that by their presence we get that World War II atmosphere.
“I am a firm believer in ‘If they build it, they will come.’ Please keep coming out, we love your support, even if it’s just to come out and cheer us on.”
Jump School is about as close as you can get to World War II paratroop training, according to the Team’s website, http://wwiiadt.org. The nine day course is the most professional and detailed course available in the world. From the moment you walk through the hangar doors at Frederick Army Air Field, or step out the door of the team’s C-47 on your fifth and qualifying jump, you will be immersed in an atmosphere of a bustling training facility straight out of the WWII era.
Troopers jump from the team’s C-47, Boogie Baby, or their C-49, Wild Kat, which made her debut at Fall Jump School 2017.
Norwood Thomas is a World War II veteran who attended Summer Open Hangar Day and came back for Fall Open Hangar Day.
“I took training here in the states, then I went to England, and then we jumped in Normandy, and after we cleared Normandy of the Germans we went back to England,. And then in September, we went and had an airborne invasion into Holland. I was in the 82nd Airborne Division before it was airborne. I was in the 101st Airborne Division the day it was activated.”
Thomas met a new friend whom he discovered was aboard the same ship heading to England at the same time he was heading over.
Dan McBride spent 44 days crossing the Atlantic, and all that time he was on board with Thomas and the two of them never met.
“We never met, but we enjoyed the same pleasures aboard that ship,” McBride said. “Should we tell her about the pleasures?” McBride asked Thomas.
“We enjoyed sea water showers, filthy food and mess kits, and we couldn’t get suds from the soap,” Thomas said.
McBride said he slept on a hammock and every time he rolled over he did a 180 and landed on the floor. Not only were McBride and Thomas on the same shop for 44 days, but they also jumped into Normandy on D-Day.
I landed at about 1:23 squarely on the drop zone, but Dan landed at about 1:15, 14 miles away from his drop zone,” Thomas said. “No one landed where they were supposed to.”
Thomas said he and McBride knew the same people, but had never met each other during the time they were in the same areas. Thomas and McBride each got to ride in the planes while troopers were jumping.
Thomas was in the news for an entirely different reason last year. In February of 2016, Thomas was reunited with his war-time love, Joyce Morris after more than 70 years apart. Thomas was 21 when he met 17-year-old Morris in London before the invasion of Normandy. Air New Zealand flew Thomas into Australia to reunite him with his long lost sweetheart and they spent two weeks together.
Lee Newins came all the way from Kingsbridge, England to attend Fall Jump School.
“I’m a former member of the 10th Battalion Parachute Regimen and I’ve always wanted to jump out of a C-47 and they used to bring those ships out for the big shows…we all used to get back squatted into the C-130s,” Newins said. “So about a year ago I looked this up and couldn’t believe I’d found it. Here we are. I had a real ball. I’ve done four jumps but as I’ve served previously, they only wanted me to do two. I’ve kept my head under the radar and managed another couple.
The jumpers were grounded because of high winds during the week, so they completed their jumps to earn their wings on Saturday which pushed the 11 a.m. Wing Pinning Ceremony back to 4 p.m. World War II veterans were on hand to pin the wings on the graduates.
Students who graduated from Fall Jump School 2017 are:
• Jimmy Anderson,
• Richard Bachour,
• Barry Blackmore,
• Steven Butler,
• Nancy Durinick,
• Dominik Garska,
• Chuck Herron,
• Nicholas Hopper,
• Max Ipinza,
• Stewart James,
• Ellis Jones,
• James King
• Robert Maurice,
• Mitch McKee,
• Gary McMillian,
• Friedrich Mietenkorte,
• Lou Miller,
• Blake Nelson,
• Lee Newins,
• Dan Reichman, and,
• Jeffrey Van Ness.
For more information on how to enroll for Summer Jump School 2018, become a member of the Airborne Demonstration Team or to make a donation to the Airborne Demonstration Team contact Laura Goodwin at 469-855-5685 or visit http://wwiiadt.org.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588.