Tunison Foundation, Inc.
Placid Lassie


World War II: D-DAY

Operation NEPTUNE

On 5 March 1944 the 74th TCS moved to Aldermaston, England. Intensive training for D-Day commenced including flying formation at night and night glider drops. They practiced flying at 120 mph at 1,000 feet towing gliders in formation.

The leading parachute drops in the Normandy invasion were code named ALBANY (101st Division) and BOSTON (82nd Division). 13 waves of C-47s in ALBANY dropped pathfinders and troops into three Landing Zones (LZ) from 00:20 to 01:43. 14 waves of C-47s in BOSTON dropped pathfinders and troops into another three LZs from 01:21 to 02:44. Meanwhile back in England, Placid Lassie and the 74th took off at about 02:00 towing CG-4A Waco gliders. They were part of the CHICAGO (Serial 27) mission carrying 155 men and equipment for the 101st. The gliders contain two Batteries of the 81st AA Battalion, engineers, elements 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (anti-tank platoon), HQ Company, Signal, 1 surgical unit, staff, 1 bulldozer, sixteen 57mm guns, and 25 vehicles).

The 74th took off from Aldermaston at 02:00, formed up at 1,000 feet and flew to their first checkpoint. They dropped down to 500 feet and crossed the Channel. Checkpoints Austin, Elko, Flatbush, Gallup, Hoboken, Reno and crossed the coast at Muleshoe at about 03:49. A and B flights spread the formation laterally. LZ E was near Hiesville, France with one side along the road between Ste. Marine-du-Mont and les Forges about a mile behind Utah beach. Immediately to the East of the LZ was Drop Zone C wher the 506th and 501st Parachute Regiments had jumped. One plane from CHICAGO (71st TCS) was shot down. The 74th came over the release zone at 450 feet six minutes early and released the gliders. About half of the gliders landed within two miles of the LZ. The gliders The first troops hit Utah Beach from boats 2.5 hours later at 06:30.

After dropping gliders, the 74th crossed the beaches, turned to the left, reformed and returned via Purdue, Spokane, Gallup, Flatbush, Elko and Austin to Aldermaston at about 05:30. The formation orbited the field, with four-ship elements peeling off from each orbit to land in 15 second intervals.

Placid Lassie returned to LZ E at 21:00 for the KEOKUK (Serial 29) mission bringing men and supplies. This mission included towing Eight Horsan gliders including 157 men of Signals, medical & staff personnel, 40 vehicles, six guns, nine tons of equipment and supplies. Ed Tunison remembered: “That same day, we came back and brought gasoline back to the mainland. Engineers had already laid out a corrugated runway for us . . . somewhere in Cherbourg. The afternoon when we went back, the air was filled with all kinds of aircraft—German aircraft, American aircraft, Canadian aircraft. I remember seeing the USS Texas shooting salvos in to the mainland.”

The next day as part of GALVESTON (Serial 35) the 74th was back over the target at 07:10 dowing twelve CG-4A gliders including HQ & HQ Company 325th Glider Infrantry Regiment, Company A 307th Airborne Engineering Battalion, 82nd Airborne Recon Platoon, 82nd Airborne Divisional Artillery, Command Vehicles 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. It is not currently known if Placid Lassie flew this mission.

After D-Day Placid Lassie and the 74th were used for air evacuation, re-supply and mail runs into France to support the invasion. Some say that a C-47 burned 2 gallons of fuel for every gallon delivered.

On 23 Aug 1944 all of the units of the 434th were given battle honors by Major General Vandenberg for “outstanding duty in action against the enemy” on 5-7 June 1944 including 132 powered and 132 glider sorties and “were flown at minimum altitudes and air speeds, under unfavorable weather conditions over water, and into the face of vigorous enemy opposition, with no possibility of employing evasive action…”.

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