Historic D-Day aircraft visits area

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, a vast armada, unlike the world had ever seen, descended on the area of Normandy.

A vital part of the plan was to send more than 13,000 paratroopers from the 101st and the 82nd U.S. Army Airborne to parachute behind German-held lines in order to secure vital crossroads and bridges that might otherwise hinder the Allied invasion.

Leading the aerial armada was a C-47 nicknamed That’s All Brother. The aircraft led 800 other C-47s from bases all over England to points inland from the Normandy coast.

By daybreak, That’s All Brother had completed her mission.

Fast forward more than 70 years.

Historians come across a derelict C-47 sitting in a Wisconsin “boneyard,” waiting her turn to be scrapped. The historians who were researching aircraft that might have historical significance discovered the identity and historical significance of the old airplane.

A fundraising effort was begun by the Commemorative Air Force, based in Texas, to save the historic airplane and restore her.

By 2018, following many thousands of hours in labor and several million dollars of investment later, That’s All Brother was transformed to her 1944 glory, right down to her D-Day Invasion Stripes.

In 2019, That’s All Brother was headed back to Normandy, this time to lead the way for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. She once again flew over the coast, this time during daylight, and dropped paratroopers into Normandy, this time to be greeted on the ground by well-wishers rather than enemy gunfire.

That’s All Brother is now on a promotional tour through Ohio this week.

Her first stop was last weekend at the Butler County Regional Airport. After a day stop at Grimes Airport in Urbana, the venerable C-47 is going to the National Museum of the United States Air Force where she will be on static display on April 20-22.

From there, That’s All Brother will move on to Xenia where she will take part in the celebration of Jim “Pee Wee” Martin’s 100th birthday celebration. Martin, an original member of the 101st Airborne and Band of Brothers, made the jump into Normandy on D-Day. The weekend of April 23-25 will be filled with the celebration of Martin’s 100th birthday, parachute jumps, and the opportunity for visitors to tour or ride in the historic aircraft.

For more information, see the C-47’s schedule at visit www.thatsallbrother.org.