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World War II Paratrooper Watches VE Day Flyover
by Jim Dresbach, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall - June 1, 2015

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JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Carl Anderson is a member of “the Greatest Generation,” and he may have the greatest sense of humor.

A member of the 101st Airborne Division, the famed “Screaming Eagles,” during World War II, the 91-year-old Anderson bypassed the hustle and bustle of May 8's National Mall Victory in Europe Day anniversary commemorations to leisurely watch the flyover from the Whipple Field hill on the Fort Myer portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Besides the 15 waves of planes that flew over the National Mall during the Arsenal of Democracy flyover, which commemorated the 70th anniversary of VE Day, some on Whipple Field were entertained by Anderson's sharp wit.

May 8, 2015 - World War II Army veteran Carl Anderson, 91, and his daughter Martha Perry watch the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall’s Whipple Field that is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery,  immediately across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Anderson, a paratrooper who jumped during D-Day, was part of a crowd of several hundred spectators to watch vintage military aircraft which commemorated the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photos by Jim Dresbach)
May 8, 2015 - World War II Army veteran Carl Anderson, 91, and his daughter Martha Perry watch the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Whipple Field that is adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery,  immediately across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Anderson, a paratrooper who jumped during D-Day, was part of a crowd of several hundred spectators to watch vintage military aircraft which commemorated the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photos by Jim Dresbach)

“I just want to see someone stick their hand out of the [Washington] Monument and shake their hands when they're flying by,” Anderson said when asked what he was looking forward to seeing the most.

Not only was he quick with the jokes, he was quick with the stories. As word passed that Anderson was a World War II veteran, the Arlington, Va., resident was greeted by civilian spectators.

“Carl, first of all, God bless him; he looks wonderful for his age,” said Dean Popps of McLean, Va. “He looks like he is ready to still get to the door of the airplane. He helped keep the world free and it was great to go to him and say thank you.”

Through the stories, Anderson recalled his whereabouts on the original VE Day in 1945. He was right in the middle of the biggest story of that day.

“We were stationed outside of Reims; they were signing the peace treaty that day,” he told those listening. “The crowd [in Reims] was worse than the New Year's crowd at Times Square [in New York City].”

Surrounded by his family members, Anderson continued to mesmerize JBM-HH guests with 70-year-old stories from his war-time campaigns during D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. In June 1944, enemy fire hit his aircraft while he descended on Normandy; he jumped from the burning plane.

“I hope I jumped, or I wouldn't be here today,” he said while some laughed at his matter-of-fact humor. “I know I jumped; I didn't go very far. It [the fire] really lit up the inside of the plane. It could have been flack or machine gun fire because we were so low.”

When asked about his crow's nest view from Whipple, he was impressed, but started the conversation with a light hearted crack.

“They look like mosquitoes from here,” said Anderson, who saw the interior of a few C-47s when he parachuted into Europe.

The formations that received the most attention from JBM-HH viewers were when the Boeing B-29 Superfortress flew past the Lincoln Memorial and the tight formation of the P-51 Mustangs which buzzed past the Washington Monument and below the World War II Memorial.

By Jim Dresbach, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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