Browse Categories

Articles and other information on these subjects:

Unarmed, Unarmored and Unescorted: A World War 2 C-47 Airborne Troop Carrier Pilot Remembers

<< Previous in • World War 2 Memoir Next in • World War 2 Memoir >>

Unarmed, Unarmored and Unescorted: A World War 2 C-47 Airborne Troop Carrier Pilot Remembers
  • by John R. Johnson Jr.
    • A Merriam Press World War II Memoir
      • Third Edition 2020
      • 296 6x9-inch pages
      • 35 photos and documents
  • Paperback
  • ISBN 978-1-6781-5880-4
Inducted in 1942, Johnson went through pilot training, followed by airborne operations flight training with the 27th Troop Carrier Squadron, 10th Troop Carrier Group. Assignment to the 49th Troop Carrier Squadron, 313th Troop Carrier Wing, for training in Sicily in late 1943 came next.
     Assigned to the 36th Troop Carrier Squadron, 316th Troop Carrier Group, in November 1943, for training for the Normandy D-Day invasion, followed by support for the invasion and Allied advance across Europe during the summer of 1944.
     Also during this period, he trained for Operation Market Garden, as part of the armada that dropped the 82nd Airborne Division. His C-47 was shot down during this mission and he became a POW. In addition to detailing his life as a POW, from capture and interrogation to life in Stalag Luft 1A, through liberation, Johnson includes details of what it was like back home for his family, particularly after he was listed as Missing in Action after being shot down, including his parents' efforts at trying to get more details from politicians, the Army and members of his unit in England.
     A detailed personal account by a C-47 pilot who flew Un-Armed, Un-Armored and Un-Escorted over the skies of Europe, delivering men and materiel where it was needed to defeat the enemy.

  • Introduction
  • Prelude: 18 September 1944
  • Chapter 1: The Beginning: It All Started Here
  • Chapter 2: Induction: U.S. Army, Fort Thomas, Kentucky
  • Chapter 3: Loneliness and Mournful Sounds
  • Chapter 4: Casey Jones School of Aeronautics
  • Chapter 5: A Prophecy Unfolds
  • Chapter 6: Aviation Cadet Days: Part 1, Classification/Pre-Flight/Primary
  • Chapter 7: Aviation Cadet Days: Part 2, Basic —Advanced
  • Chapter 8: Prepare for Combat: Bergstrom Field, Austin, Texas, June-July 1943
  • Chapter 9: Dunnellon, Florida
  • Chapter 10: This One is for the Birds: Dunnellon, Florida, September 1943
  • Chapter 11: Off to War
  • Chapter 12: Rain Clock: A Jungle Jaunt, 11 October 1943
  • Chapter 13: Sicily: Trapani/Milo and Castelvetrano, October 12, 1943-February 15, 1944
  • Chapter 14: Emerald Isle Interlude
  • Chapter 15: Settling In: Preparing for D-Day
  • Chapter 16: First with the Best: Operation OVERLORD: Airborne Mission, NEPTUNE: Boston-Freeport, June 5-6, 1944
  • Chapter 17: Between Major Combat Missions
  • Chapter 18: Operation MARKET GARDEN
  • Chapter 19: From Hot Pilot to POW
  • Chapter 20: Interrogation: A Psychological Experience 175
  • Chapter 21: Dulag Luft Transit Camp, October 1944
  • Chapter 22: Stalag Luft 1A, Part 1
  • Chapter 23: Meanwhile Back Home, Part 1
  • Chapter 24: Stalag Luft 1A, Part 2
  • Chapter 25: At Last, Homeward Bound
  • Chapter 26: Meanwhile Back Home, Part 2
  • The Author

Col. Johnson has allowed us a vivid understanding of the pains and personal struggles of a very young man who went to the aid of his country and people at a time when a world wide horror had just begun with no sign that it would be brought to a right and peaceful end for years to come. With only hope and carefully suppressed fears this 19 year-old volunteered for a military engagement of such proportions that he could not begin to imagine it. We are taken through all levels, mental and physical, of his next three years wherein he was sustained by loyalty and love for his mother, for his country, and for his Lord.
     Through it all he managed to keep notes and letters from and to his mother and others that, along with his fascinating accounts and anecdotes, draw us into the bellicose world of drama and suspense that few of us on our own can imagine. And now he gives all the details by way of a marvelously written book,
     Because of Colonel Johnson, we gain a renewed acquaintance with the grief and misery in that fiercest of all the wars in history. Yet it is obvious that he had a purpose in writing this book that is quite likely beyond just getting his life, his yearnings, his struggles (some common, some distinctive) laid out in a rather formal manner, so that he and others of us can learn what it means to be alive in a quickeningly moribund world. For I discern that he shares a passion with the wisest of our statesmen: And that is, first, that we learn - and never forget - what happens when the world and its nations become lapse in their love for the Lord of all creation; and, second, that our surviving these horrors is due precisely to those among us who are disciplined, dedicated and responsible servants of Truth.
     The book gets five stars, not only for it having accomplished the impressive telling of an exciting war story, but for the fact that its author is an unusually honest and authentic warrior for his nation and for the Lord.
     Our nation is gradually losing these men of great stature. Yet Colonel Johnson's book does contain a sublime message: There is important work ahead for all of us.
—David Conn

A great book that sheds light on some largely overlooked units of WWII. The men who flew C-47s and other transport aircraft were often forgotten due to the exploits of their fellow airman who flew bombers and fighters. But the danger was the same. I had always wondered about the selection process and training. This book reveals all of it. And what really makes for an interesting read is Mr. Johnson's description of his POW experiences, particularly those first few days in isolation. The reader can feel the fear. Highly recommended.
—Christoph Kelly

Absolutely the BEST book I've read in awhile. Amazing what our men and women have done or did to keep us safe. I would recommend this book to anyone who really enjoys true stories of history. Good read. Author is an amazing man.

It was a different kind of look at Market Gasrden, showing life inside the prison camp. A different perspective to Troop Carrier missions.
—Mark Cinque

Excellent book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Taking you through J R Johnson's enlistment, training, adventures, combat missions, capture and liberation. A very personal account of his service during WWII. Well done, thank you Sir for your service and sharing your memories.
—E. M. Owsiany

This book draws me in like being there. Just great! I think it's awesome how Colonel John Johnson Jr. let us all know his experience. Espescially he may have flown the C-47 that my late grandpa jumped out of at night. Part of 82nd Airborne 376th F.A.Bn.
—Brian Norman

This was a well written recollection of events from an Air Force pilots experience during World War II. The personal touches and memories made this a great read.

Excellent review & narrative. My father was a C-47 pilot in WWII and flew in EVERY mission described in the book.
—James C. Nevers

Product Reviews

(0 Ratings, 0 Reviews)