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C47s go back to France to honor those who crossed the Channel

In June 1944, the thousands of young airmen who boarded their C-47s in the dark for the historic mission quickly discovered that the Germans were waiting. Russell Chandler was in the cockpit of a C-47 on D-Day, his transport filled with 27 paratroopers whom he was to release at one a.m. over Sainte-Mere-Église in German-occupied France. What weighed heavily on Chandler was knowing that his C-47 was unarmed and defenseless.

In an interview published in the July 2004 issue of Aviation History, Chandler vividly recalled his D-Day mission: “Once we crossed the coast [into France], the Germans started throwing everything they could at us. Flak was often heavy, and it was sickening to watch your wingman take a hit, nose over, and head down. There was no skill in avoiding being hit. You stayed in formation and prayed it wouldn’t be you. Of my group of 27, I think we lost seven that first day. Those of us who survived knew it was the hand of God that had delivered us home.

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