© Copyright CJ Magro, Paratroopers of the 50's
Says: " thanks to  SSgt. Bill Holt, flight engineer,
Paratroopers of the 50's is privileged, honored and LUCKY to be able to provide its viewers
with a first hand account of how a C119 crew member felt and viewed the loading , flying and
dropping a Load of ... " Crazy Paratroopers of the 50's "

Editor's Note: Don't
you just love this patch

"Flying Boxcars"
Bill, served  with  the 12th Troop Carrier Squadron  
Rhein Main Air Force Base from 1950 to 54. They had C-82s and then got the C-119s. 

On the right  is a picture of Bill seated at the control's of  a C-119


William Holt AF15426911
60th Troop Carrier Group
12th Group Carrier Squadron
Rhein Main Air Force Base

I believe it was in 1953 that we had a huge multi national exercise dropping paratroopers and equipment in Southern France.

The 60th Troop Carrier Group stationed at Rhein Main AFB, Frankfurt, Germany consisted of the 10th, 11th, and 12th Troop Carrier Squadrons.
  We flew C-119s. box 
(Editor's Note: After Viewing Holt's Site, I believe they took them home at night and shined them as much as we did our  Jump Boots ! )
The entire group flew to Brise Norton airfield in England where they were loaded with supplies, and American , English, and French paratroopers. I believe they were called Rangers at the time but I'm not quite sure of that.
We had the privilege of having theU.S. Rangers come aboard our airplanes. They arrived in  trucks and as they unloaded and came towards my airplane (I was standing in the front loading door) I looked at them and my heart really went out to them, I felt so sorry for them. With all the equipment these fellows were loaded down with, it was hard to believe they could walk. loaded
loadc119 They had to carry everything with them for survival and some of these guys had stuff strapped to their legs, their backs and their behinds and even stuff taped to their helmets. When they got to the door of my plane (it was a three step up) to board none of them could make it so, I set myself in the doorway and helped them. I would grab a hold of their harness on their front parachute pack and  pull them up as hard I could to help. It was an honor to do it ; but I sure felt sorry for them.
parainc119 When we got them all on aboard, I went upstairs and cranked up the engines. The whole group taxied out to our pre-flight warm up spot. Out of the three squadrons there was approximately 60 airplanes.
As we did our pre-flight , I could imagine what it was like downstairs with the troopers sitting there with the two back doors open and these huge engines running beside making all the noise that a piston engine can make. The airplane would rattle and shake and rock-n-roll like it was trying to lunge off the ground. It must have been kinda terrifying to some of them if they were new paratroopers. brp1ane
After the pre-flight we all pulled out to the runway in a staggered formation waiting for our takeoff orders. When the lead aircraft took off each one followed in 10 second intervals. As it got down to the one in front of us we all watched the clock on the instrument panel very closely and then in 10 seconds I would firewall everything on the instrument panel (just push the throttles forward) and the pilot would fly the airplane off. We climbed out on a certain heading and then made a turn and the group came together with all 60 airplanes. We then headed south across the channel to France.

The most thrilling part of the entire trip was flying at treetop level to avoid any radar contact. Overhead we had the English Vampires, Meteors, and American F-86's as air cover for us. As we crossed over into France, the French took over with a lot of their fighters. paraaircov
As we got closer  to the southern part of France, believe it or not but the Italians came up with old WWII  F-51s and the P-47 thunderbolts. I guess we gave them to Italians after the war.  It was enjoyable to see them; old WWII Mustangs and Thunderbolts flying along with us . They did rolls around use and generally just played with us .

(Editor's note: you can always count on the Italians for entertaining combat ! )
I would go downstairs and check on the fellows but there was nothing that I could possibly do for them. They were 100% self sufficient. They took care of themselves. 

(Editor's Note: View of C119 as you step down from Pilot's compartment)

As we neared the DZ, (drop zone) we climbed  to 1,500 feet or so.  My job then was to go downstairs to the back between the two clamshell doors and assist the Jumpmaster.  I had learned from previous experience what I should and  shouldn't do and what I shouldn't' do was stand very close to any of the Rangers that were getting ready to jump.
paraonplane The reason  was, because they would like to try and grab you as they exited the plane.  Just to have a little fun with you.  I guess they were pretending, 
( I sure hope they were ) 
Well just in case, what I would do was take one of our tie down ropes and  tie it around me and then tie myself to the center post between the two clamshell doors.
There wasn't much chatter or talking going on you could see they were really focused on what they had to do. I was extremely impressed by how they worked together as one unit; each one relying on each other to make sure everything was done right.
hookup About 15 minutes before we got to the drop zone, they stood up, hooked up their static lines  and started checking each others equipment. They would  check the one in front of them, checking their lashings on the parachutes and all their equipment. If any of them had any fear of this jump, they sure didn't show it ; looked like they were enjoying it. 
When we got about 10 minutes from the DZ they got into a tight single file on each side of the plane, in what Paratroopers called "Sticks". They stayed that way until we got  to the 5 minute warning.
Then they started chanting, I don't know what they were saying, and started marking time in place with their boots, stomping hard on the floor. What a sound. It made my hair stand up on end and goose pimples all over me to see these young guys getting ready to do what they were trained for. paradoor2
I had put many hours as a flight engineer in the C-119 and I was terrified to think of ever having to bail out, and here these guys were looking and acting like they were enjoying it.

Then as we came up to the DZ the green light came on and I have never seen a bunch of guys go out of an airplane as fast in all my life. These fellows ran out that door. They just absolutely disappeared. It was really beautiful. The jump master was the last to go. After he jumped,  it was up to me and my assistant to  get the static lines back inside the airplane. With all the static lines hanging out the back doors in one big bunch and at the speed we were flying it was hard to do.
We finally got them in and as we gained altitude and I looked out the door the sky was absolutely full of parachutes.  

 I felt so proud, that I had taken part in this exercise. I was so proud of our guys and the guys we had dropped ; thinking what they were now going through and the rough training they had went through.

To this day, I have never forgot those fellows and still have the deepest respect for all of them. chutechute

Being a flight engineer we didn't have to go through the extreme physical training or the mental training that Paratroopers had to go through. So when you see one of those retired paratroopers,  give him the respect he's due and by all means they are due that respect, for what they went through.
I love them all and God Bless America!

Editor's note: Bill is most gracious to all of us Paratroopers in his closing paragraphs and we would not only be un-gracious to not express our appreciation for the Great Job he and all the Guys in the Air Force did , we would be "TOTALLY WRONG". So Bill,  here's a big:heart"WE    LOVE     YOU     MAN " heart
 Bill, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your outstanding contribution to Paratroopers of the 50's site and the use of your pictures and graphics .

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