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Suns & Shields Christian Inspirational Writings by Rachelle Hamlin

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The Roberts Trap is Sprung

By:  Bill Dunne
One of the most overlooked aspects of the year just ended is the vindication of Chief Justice John Roberts -- a vindication that showed up as the national catastrophe known as ObamaCare got rolling.  Roberts may have also doomed Hillary Clinton's chance to live in the White House again... click here to read whole editorial


World War II C-47 Aircraft and Crew Welcomed at Northern Maine Regional Airport


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, May 28, 2014


   On Thursday, May 15 the historical C-47 Army aircraft, known by its call sign, Whiskey 7, landed at Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle as part of a trip back to Normandy, France to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy during World War II.  Northern Maine Regional Airport sits on the site of the former Presque Isle Army Airfield which was the hub of U.S. to Europe flight patterns during that war.

   Whiskey 7 served on D-Day to deploy paratroopers over Northwest France and was frequently used to transport injured troops from the European theatre to the busy Presque Isle Army Airfield, where a large hospital sat on what is now the North end of the Northern Maine Community College campus. Whiskey 7 is the last airworthy C47 from the original 37th Troop Carrier squadron - the predecessor to today's 37th Airlift Command, now headquartered in Germany. 

   Nathan Grass, President of Presque Isle Air museum said the plane and its crew left New York earlier that afternoon.  “We appreciate the National Warplane Museum including us in this historic flight of Whiskey 7 back to Normandy on the coast of France to participate in the 70th anniversary commemoration of D-Day.”

   During World War II, the United States produced over 270,000 airplanes to support the war effort in Europe and in the Pacific.  Because of it being the closest United States land mass to Europe, nearly all of the combat planes that went to Europe passed through Presque Isle Army Airfield.  “People who lived in this area at that time can attest there were literally thousands of aircraft cycling through this air base,” said Grass.  “Whiskey 7 could have been one of those planes.  The planes were mostly new and right off the assembly line.  They would come in during the day and mechanics would check them over for any maintenance problems, load them with higher octane fuel where they would then leave for Europe the next day.”

   “It was told to me by a Presque Isle inhabitant, who has now passed on, that some days there would be so many planes in the air that it would darken the skies.  As with any war there were many battlefield casualties.  Wounded soldiers would be airlifted from the battlefield and returned stateside as soon as possible.  That resulted in many planes, such as Whiskey 7, full of injured soldiers returning back through Presque Isle Army Airfield.  During the Battle of the Bulge and D-Day planes were arriving at a steady rate loaded with soldiers.  This base was equipped with a large hospital complex which was one of the largest East of the Mississippi.  That hospital was located where Northern Maine Community College is now located.  There were over 40 field ambulances used to take the wounded from the planes to the hospital.  We were told by one of the ambulance drivers that one day over 100 planes came into this airfield loaded with wounded soldiers and after they were transported to the hospital every room was filled and the hallways were overflowing.”

   Presque Isle Army Airfield operated from 1941 to the end of the war in 1945.  Later, during the Cold War, the base became the Presque Isle Air Force base with jet fighters.  In the early 1960's, because of its geographical location, it became the only intercontinental missile base in the country.  “This air base has a proud legacy of service to the United States of America. “

   “This event hits close to home for me, as my Grandfather Smith was in the 82nd Airborne paratroopers that was deployed into Normandy on D-Day,” said Emily Smith, Chair of the Presque Isle City Council.  During the welcoming ceremony for Whiskey 7 Smith read a resolution from the city council commending the warplane and its crew for their efforts on behalf of the U.S. during World War II and their continued efforts to keep history alive for all to appreciate the heroic sacrifices made by an extraordinary group of people.

   June 6, 2014 will be the 70th anniversary of the WWII  D-Day invasion in and around Normandy, France. The crew and plane are participating in a three week, eight city flight plan on their way to the June 6 anniversary event in Normandy, France.

   Christopher Polhemus is the captain of the crew of Whiskey 7.  “We are absolutely humbled by the turnout here in Presque Isle.  It could not be a nicer welcome for us on the kickoff of our mission,” said Polhemus at the welcoming ceremony in Presque Isle.  “We left Genesee this afternoon.  They had a bit of a farewell party for us in the hanger.  Quite a few folks came out and it was awfully nice.  We got off the ground at about 2:30 it took us 3 hours 20 minutes flying time to get up here.

   Whiskey 7 rolled off the assembly line in Santa Monica, California in 1943, then went directly to Wichita, Kansas where it was outfitted for the mission it was about to proceed on.  The airplane then flew down through Miami, Puerto Rico, Trinidad down to the East coast of South America to Brazil, across the south Atlantic to Ascension Island on the West Coast of Africa, through Africa and up the Nile River to Cairo where it was outfitted to fly its missions in North Africa.  “This was the campaign that the U.S. had along with the British to push the Germans out of North Africa during World War II.  What our airplane did when it was in North Africa was take supplies to the front line - ammunition, arms, food, a lot of water out to the front line troops and evacuate the wounded.  We pushed the Germans out of North Africa.”  Whiskey 7 was also involved in the Italian campaign dropping paratroopers first over Sicily and mainland Italy from there to Gibraltar up to the United Kingdom where in 1944 the crews began training for the missions for D-Day. 

   On June 5, 1944 Whiskey 7 left an RAF base in the East Midlands at 11:15 at night with 17 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne.  Three hours later, at 2:10 in the morning, at 700 feet above the ground those young men, 17, 18, 19 years old - the oldest on the jump team was 20 years old - jumped into the night sky over St. Mary's Place the first town to be liberated by the Allies in occupied France.  “These kids had no idea what they were jumping into.  They were jumping into the dark, the Germans were shooting at them and the only protection that they had was to sit on their helmets in the back of the airplane so they wouldn't be shot from below.  The crew of Whiskey 7 was issued flack jackets which they sat on as they approached the drop zone.”

   “That's just one example of what the Greatest Generation did for the entire world, not just for the United States, but for the entire world,” said Polhemus.  “They freed Europe from the tyranny of the NAZI oppression.  They maintained our security in the United States.   What we're doing with this airplane right now is probably the greatest honor that we can do for that generation.  We're returning that same airplane to the original drop zones with a demonstration jump team that dresses in World War II 82nd Airborne uniforms.  We're going to be dropping them two to three times a day for the first ten days of June right over the original drop zones.” 

   Whiskey 7 left Presque Isle Friday morning, May 16 and headed up to Goose Bay, Labrador, flying the original Blue Spruce routes with about 750 nautical miles between stops.  From there they flew to Greenland, Iceland, then down to Scotland where they planed to attend the 70th anniversary air show in Ducksberg, England, on the weekend of May 24 - 25.   From England the crew plans to visit the home of the 37th Airlift Command which provides much of the transportation for the U.S. military through Europe and the Middle East.    “We're going to fly with their hi-tech C137 J models south of Frankfurt and from there on down to Normandy for ten days of flying.  Then we're going to turn around and fly the original route right back and should be back in Presque Isle for our tech stop and pick up some fuel somewhere around the 13th of June.”

   With the exception of one person, who is a retired U.S. Air pilot, everyone on the Whiskey 7 flight crew has full time jobs.  “These guys have worked so hard all winter to get this airplane ready for this trip.  It's been about two years in planning for us to put this together.”

   The welcoming ceremony at Northern Maine Regional Airport was sponsored by Northern Maine Regional Airport, The Aroostook Medical Center and the Presque Isle Air Museum.  It was organized by Nathan Grass from the museum, Scott Wardwell, from the Airport and Jason Parent from TAMC.


Whiskey 7, the last airworthy U.S. Army C-47 aircraft of the 37th Air Squadron was on display at Northern Maine Regional Airport on the evening of May 15 through the morning of May 16.                                      photo/David Deschesne







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