I just spent three days in Zephyrhills, Florida volunteering on the Normandy Bound Project. The project includes the restoration of a World War II C47 that will join squadrons of other C47s from the US and fly to Normandy, France in June of next year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Allied Invasion that began June 6, 1944, commonly known as D-Day. It changed the course of history and ultimately led to victory by the Allies in western Europe. My participation in the project was on behalf of my friend and photography mentor, Moose Peterson whose company, Peterson & Sons, is filming a documentary that begins with the restoration effort and will culminate in the celebration in France next year.
This C47 is called “Hit and Miss.” I met her on Wednesday morning. She is an impressive Lady and although she was not one of the aircraft that invaded on June 6, she did arrive in Normandy on D-Day + 9. She got her name because on another mission, she led a squadron of C47s and she was the only airplane in that mission to return home.
On that first morning, my friend Richard and I were assigned the task of degreasing her underbelly in preparation for painting. The weather was hot and muggy and the work was messy and dirty, but “Hit & Miss” shaded us from the most brutal of the sun’s rays. We spent hours scrubbing grease, grit, and grime away from the rivets. At the end of the day, we were greasy, gritty, and grimy ourselves and our clothes were saturated with whatever chemicals we used to scrub it clean. Every so often, intermittent summer rainstorms forced us to retreat to the hanger where we watched the lightning strikes and waited for the deluge to stop before returning to the task at hand.
It is an honor and a privilege to contribute to this effort and to actually touch a part of history. This group of dedicated people is making sure that future generations will be able to appreciate the importance of D-Day and the Allied Victory in WWII. Please click here for more information about the project.