LUBBOCK, Texas — It’s what Eisenhower called the aircraft that won the war, and over the weekend, it was right here in Lubbock, thanks to the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
Sunday marked 77 years since D-Day during World War II, and at the Silent Wings Museum to commemorate the anniversary, people in town were able to get an up-close look at the plane that led the invasion.
“Without this airplane, the country, the world, wouldn’t be what it is today,” Col. Vern Rooze with the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force said.
As the plane took off, you couldn’t miss the engine’s roar to life or the smell of exhaust. Still, this plane is no ordinary aircraft.
It’s a time capsule to June 6, 1944.
This C-47 led a group of hundreds of planes at Normandy, 77 years ago Sunday. Named “That’s All Brother,” it dropped paratroopers into occupied France, evacuated the wounded and delivered supplies.
“These are people, young men who put their lives on the line,” Sharon McCullar, curator at the Silent Wings Museum, said.
For some of these young men jumping from the plane, it may have been their first — or even their last mission.
“That’s All Brother” dropped the paratroopers — men as young as 18, 19 and 20 — from about 500 to 800 feet through fog, nearly pitch black conditions and enemy gunfire from German troops on the group.
“It makes me want to cry how frightened they must have been,” McCullar said.
Over the weekend, the C-47 flew over the Hub City and gave tours to the public at the museum. Inside the plane, it’s so loud you need ear plugs, and the turbulence could knock you over.
“It gives them a physical, tangible thing that they can reach out and touch and maybe take a ride in and really understand what that journey across the Channel meant and what that invasion meant to the people who actually flew the aircraft,” McCullar said.
After the war, “That’s All Brother” was sold and fell into disrepair. That was until the Commemorative Air Force poured millions into fixing it up so that the plane is flying again almost 80 years later.
It’s a piece of living history and a permanent testament to the courage and the sacrifice of the men it carried into combat.
“The World War II veterans, there aren’t that many left to share their story, and this aircraft can live on and actually tell that story,” Rooze said.
After D-Day, it went on to serve in the Battle of the Bulge, Operation Market Garden and other major campaigns. The name “That’s All Brother” was designed as a statement to Hitler.