Demand high for Airpower Museum C-47 D-Day flight; veterans honored
The American Airpower Museum (AAM) reintroduced its popular C-47 D-Day Living History Flight Experience on June 12, completing four historic reenactment flights. Since then, demand for more flight experiences was so strong that AAM will hold another day-long program on Saturday, July 31 (rain date is Sunday, Aug. 1). The WWII Douglas C-47 Skytrain Troop Transporter—“The Gooney Bird”—along with the professional reenactors, provides a realistic recreation of what U.S. Airborne paratroopers felt on their historic D-Day mission. Three flights are set for Saturday, July 31 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with a fourth available to meet extra demand. Seats are allocated on a first-come first-served basis. To book a flight, call 516-531-3950, visit the museum’s gift shop or call 631-454-2039, Wednesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
AAM’s Flight Experience is a one-of-a-kind immersive educational program, where reenactors take visitors up in our original WWII C-47 to give a sense of what U.S. 101st and 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers experienced on their incredible 1,200-plane D-Day assault. Reenactors are led by Robert Scarabino, noted WWII Living Historian who has organized AAM’s C-47 D-Day Living History Flight Experiences since the program’s inception in 2003. This unique experience includes: a mission briefing in the ready room; a chance to wear authentic military field jackets, helmets and gear; the actual sights and sounds as the C-47’s engines fire up and you’re off into the blue. See, hear and feel the crew operating their C-47 and paratroopers getting ready for battle; plus you’ll actually line up and attach your hook to the overhead static line. Don’t worry—no jumping is allowed.
World War II Participants
Three World War II veterans will attend the July 31 events. They’ll join the Airborne living historians in the “corral” and immerse themselves within the sequence of events, interacting with guests/passengers during intake and orientation, in the briefing room as our “paratroopers” march out to the C-47. They will also be available for photo-ops throughout the day. Airborne equipment and gear will be set up inside the corral for the veterans to reflect on with our guests/passengers. July 31 is an interactive event, allowing veterans to reflect and share WWII memories and experiences with all participants. This is a wonderful way to educate all ages about our Greatest Generation heroes and help carry their legacy forward. Long Island members of the “Greatest Generation” are:
Gene Leavy—Born Nov. 26, 1925 (95 years old) in Brooklyn, raised in Queens and resides in East Northport. He enlisted in September of 1943 into the U.S. Army at age 18. Leavy was trained to be a specialist for the Infantry and the invasion of Europe. He served in Company I of the 100th Infantry Division of the 398th Regiment, which entered Europe in September of 1944 and defended the Village of Bitche in the Battle of the Bulge. Sergeant Leavy lost his best friend and another buddy was killed by mortar fire. After WWII ended, he served in the American Military Government of Germany, where he interviewed prisoners for intelligence purposes.
Joseph Salvatore Randazzo—Born June 6, 1926 (95 years old) in Brooklyn and resides in West Babylon. Randazzo served in Company G of the 75th Infantry Division of the 291st Regiment. He enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 75th Infantry Division on his 18th birthday, June 6, 1944, which was also D-Day. He received the Bronze Star for serving in three combat zones: Rhineland, Central Europe and The Battle of the Bulge (where 48 members of his 75th Infantry Division were killed in action). On April 7, 1945, Randazzo was shot through the leg for which he received the Purple Heart. His rank was PFC.
Dr. Richard Heinl—Born Oct. 24, 1924 (96 years old), Dr. Heinl was a pre-med college student when he was drafted in 1943. He served in the U.S. Army 94th Infantry Division of the 376th Regiment. His division endured 209 days in combat; 195 of those days were consecutive. The 94th was part of General George Patton’s Third Army. He received a Combat Infantry Badge and was awarded two Bronze Stars for valor in combat. After the war, he became an orthodontist, raised three children, has six grandchildren and resides in Syosset.
The cost of the C-47 flight is $350. This is a family-friendly experience for all ages. The program is about 1½ hours long and each flight takes 25 minutes. A flight experience entitles participants to bring an additional person who can visit the museum free of charge. Support our mission to honor veterans and U.S. aviation history by preserving the aircraft and their legacy for future generations. Residents may also wish to visit AAM on July 31 just to watch the flights and tour the museum. In that case, admission for adults is $15, seniors and veterans $10 and children 5-12 $8. No tickets or pre-registration is necessary for museum admission.
The museum is located on the landmarked former site of Republic Aviation at Republic Airport, Farmingdale. It maintains a collection of aviation artifacts and an array of aircraft spanning the many years of the aircraft factory’s history. It is located at Hangar 3, 1230 New Highway, Farmingdale. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.americanairpowermuseum.org or call 631-293-6398.
—Submitted by American Airpower Museum