Updated: Nov 9
Stephen Pedone, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret.
My love for the DC-3/C-47 comes directly from my dad and mom’s WWII service. My
dad, Captain Vito Pedone, USAAF, was a combat experienced A-20 ground-attack pilot
flying in 1942 from the UK to attack Nazi targets on the mainland. He transferred to the
newly formed 9th Air Force C-47 Troop Carrier Pathfinder Unit stationed at North Witham
Airfield, England, to train and prepare the twenty Pathfinder C-47 pilots & crews, and
over three-hundred Pathfinder Paratroopers of the 101st 82nd Airborne Divisions, in
preparation for the Normandy D-Day Airborne Invasion. On the evening of 5 June
1944, my dad was the co-pilot of the lead Pathfinder C-47, tail number 293098, which
led the airborne invasion and dropped the first Pathfinders Paratroopers into Normandy.
My mother, Jerry Curtis-Pedone, a surgical nurse, graduated from the first class of Army
Air Force Flight Nurses, and flew in a C-47 into the Normandy beachhead on 10 June,
to air medical evacuate and keep alive fourteen severely wounded soldiers on
stretchers hung from straps of the C-47, back to awaiting hospitals in England. Then
climb aboard another C-47, do it again, and again!
I followed in my parent’s footsteps, serving as a U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer for
twenty-five years. My family has extensive active military service from 1915 to 1990,
since my grandfather fought in WWI front-line combat, in France, with the 28th Division.
My wife and I attended the 2019 75th D-Day Anniversary on a tour with family and
friends of the Miss Montana C-47 and the D-Day Squadron. I was fortunate to fly in the
Miss Montana C-47 over the Normandy beaches and drop zones, which was a very
moving moment for me personally, imagining what my parents must have experience in
June 1944, in combat and in harm’s way.
I am an active member of the AFA, CAF, the National Pathfinder Association, and I have
participated in D-Day Squadron/DC-3 Society activities since 2018. My 2019 article
about my dad and mom’s service, titled “The D-Day Pilot and Flight Nurse” has been on
the D-Day Squadron website. I am currently writing a book with the same title for
publication next year for the 80th D-Day Anniversary. The C-47 is at the core of their
story, and at the core of my heart. I look forward to the D-Day Squadron’s return to
Normandy in 2024 for the 80th Anniversary! I greatly appreciate the goals and
dedication of the DC-3 Society and the D-Day Squadron. “Keep them flying!” Stephen Peter Pedone, Lt. Col., USAF, Ret. (Steve)
P.O. Box 1306, Naples, FL 34106