June 6, 1944. D-Day. A Douglas C-47 Skytrain named “That’s All, Brother” leads more than 800 other Skytrains to the beaches of Normandy to drop 13,000 paratroopers into the German-occupied region of Western Europe. This was the start to Operation Overlord, which lasted nearly three months.
On D-Day alone, 4,414 Allied troops were killed, with at least 5,000 more wounded or missing. It’s estimated that between 4,000 and 9,000 Germans went missing or were wounded or killed that day.
The operation ended in an Allied victory on Aug. 30, 1944.
Seventy-five years later, “That’s All, Brother” is still flying thanks to an incredible restoration effort by the Commemorative Air Force. The legendary aircraft made a stop in St. Louis this week, on its way to Washington, D.C., for the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
I had the chance to hop on the plane and take some photographs while it was refueling at Spirit of St. Louis Airport (SUS) Wednesday morning, and I can’t tell you what an incredible, emotionally charged experience it was. To think that this very aircraft I was standing inside played such a pivotal role on the most decisive day of World War II was something I just couldn’t comprehend. I was smiling and teary eyed, happy and sad – all at the same time.
When the C-47 left SUS, I watched it fly low and slow across the gray morning sky. I listened intently to the hum of its two Twin Wasp engines. I tried to imagine what it would have looked like, and what it would have sounded like, that day when it lead 150,000 soldiers to Normandy. It’s hard for me to imagine, as I’m sure is the case for most millennials.
I continued to follow the black dot in the sky until it eventually faded into nothing, and all I could think about was how brave those soldiers must have been, and how important it is that we keep their legacy alive. I’m so grateful to the crew of “That’s All, Brother,” for their genuine kindness and for the work that they and the others at the Commemorative Air Force do to maintain the world’s largest flying museum.
Be sure to watch “That’s All Brother” and other World War II aircraft Friday, Sept. 25 during the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover. Live coverage begins at 10 a.m. ET: https://ww2flyover.org/live/
Learn more about the Commemorative Air Force: https://commemorativeairforce.org/