CENTENNIAL – A Colorado pilot is on a mission and he needs help. Brendon Jewett owns a vintage DC-3 (which was previously a C-47) that actually flew in the D-Day invasion during World War II. Now, he wants to track down the crew members who flew that day.
“It flew on the famous D-Day invasion. It was based at an airfield in England, Barkston-Heath Airfield, and it was loaded up with 14 brave paratroopers and a crew of 4. They flew at two in the morning to France, across the English channel and dropped paratroopers as part of the D-Day invasion.”
The aircraft has been preserved for 75 years, and has basically flown the entire time. It was completely restored in 1995.
Brandon recently bought it. He keeps it at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum at Centennial Airport for now.
He said, “It’s an endless job. People ask me what it’s like to maintain it. It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, when you get to the other end, you gotta go back to the beginning and start over.”
He says all the systems still work, and they’ve added some modern technology, “It has a lot of modern touches as well. That is going to make out trip safer. I mean we have 3 GPS’s so we won’t get lost.”
But he says flying it takes an old-fashioned skill set. “This thing is like driving a school bus from 1980. It’s just big and lumbers and is very mechanical.”
Brandon is an airline pilot, with a deep appreciation for history and aviation. “It’s just what I do and it’s what I want to do. I realize the sacrifice a lot of people way before me made gives me the life I have today. I feel actually guilty doing it almost since it’s so much fun.”
But he doesn’t do this just for himself. His mission now is to find the crew members or their family members who flew the original mission on D-Day.
“I have the manifest of the original crew, we’ve reached out to some of their family members and [we’re] developing a relationship.”
He wants to take them to the 75th anniversary of D-Day next June, where the plane will fly in a re-enactment of the invasion. He said, “We’d like to allow those family members to participate so they know what their family members did and how important that mission was 75 years ago for our country. At least their families can know the sacrifices their families made for our country and the world.”
Here are the original crew members:
- Aubrey G. Lyon, Pilot
- Joseph E. Vrabel, Co-Pilot
- William C. Bodden, Crew Chief
- Edwin G. Muszynski, Radio Operator
- Earl C. Haynes
- Oscar E. Brundage
- Loren Aller
- Chester J. Parker
- Paul Stanley
- Robert Hughley
- George T. Miller
- Alexander S. Kleme
- Cleve N. McGregor
- George E. Boots
- Clifford L. Madson
- Santo P. Traca
- George H. Adams
- Edmund C. Moore
- Claude Sweetland
- Herman V. Collins
Contact the Legend Air Foundation if you know any of them or their family members.