I HAVE SPENT hours thumbing through several history books this summer, rewinding my personal life into the annals of American military flying. Part of my own military logbooks intersects the familiar C-47 troop carriers.
In the mid-80s, I served as an instructor aircraft commander with the 76th Military Airlift Squadron. Forty years before, the squadron used C-47s and C-53s in England, moving to Welford in October–November 1943. They training for participation in the airborne operation over Normandy and its crews were part of the Emmy award-winning Band of Brothers series, dropping paratroops of 101st Airborne Division near Cherbourg. When I flew over the Normandy coast myself, I wonder what it would have been like if I had towed Waco and Horsa gliders carrying reinforcements to that area on the afternoon of D-Day and on the following morning. The 76th received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its part in the Normandy invasion. 
As I flick through chapters of Rick Atkinson's The Day of Battle, I see reference to the importance of transport services in France and Italy. The cargo aircraft in the photo above hauled supplies such as serum, blood plasma, radar sets, clothing, rations, and ammunition, and evacuated wounded personnel to Allied hospitals. 
According to Wikipedia, the 76th went to Italy in July 1944 for the invasion of Southern France. They dropped paratroops over the assault area on 15 August 1944 and released gliders carrying troops and equipment such as jeeps, guns, and ammunition. The crews flew a resupply mission over France on 16 August 1944 and then transported supplies to bases in Italy before returning to England at the end of the month. That was 70 years ago.
As a cadet in the Air Force Academy, I studied the debacle associated with the squadron's role in the September 1944 air attack on the Netherlands. The paratroops dropped there had a dismal result.
By February 1945, the 76th moved to France and planned airborne assaults across the Rhine. Each aircraft (above) towed two gliders towards the east bank of the Rhine on 24 March 1945. This was tricky business. After the invasion commenced, the squadron flew resupply missions to Germany in support of ground forces.
When I was with the 76th Military Airlift Squadron, it was approaching one million accident-free flying hours. I wonder whether the squadron reached that significant milestone.
[Bernie Goldbach logged more than 1000 flying hours as an instructor aircraft commander with the 76th Military Airlift Squadron.]
1. Wikipedia -- "The 435th Operations Group"
2. Rick Atkinson -- "Day of Battle" ISBN 978-0-8050-6289-2