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Flight Officer David Eugene "Gene" Filer

Information supplied by his Grandson Blake Thomas

Born 16th February 1917 - 315th Troop Carrier Group - 34th Troop Carrier Squadron, United States Army Air Force

David Filer was born in the rural Indiana town of Hebron on February 16, 1917. His father, Lawrence Filer, was a farmer and a veteran of World War One. David had been interested in flying from an early age, growing up around the famed "barnstormers" that zipped through the air in their biplanes.

After a brief stint in college and working in the Gary, Indiana steel mills he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942. Like so many glider pilots, he was washed out of basic due to his eyesight. Not wanting to be grounded, he volunteered for the fledgling glider program. The job of a glider pilot was to land the glider, unload it, secure the LZ (landing Zone), then make their way back from behind enemy lines to a safe base and get back for more missions. The gliders were little more than wood and fabric, with no weapons and were nicknamed "flak bait" for their low-flying and very little defence.

He spent '42 through '44 at several air bases, taking basic glider at Fort Sumner, New Mexico, Sheppard Field, Texas, and finally advanced and ground school at Lubbock Army Air Base in Texas. He graduated Glider school as a Flight Officer in April 1944 and got his wings.

He arrived in Europe on D+5, just missing the initial invasion of Normandy. He was assigned to the 52nd Wing, 315th Troop Carrier Group, 34th Troop Carrier Squadron in Stamford, England. From there his first combat mission was Operation Dragoon in southern France, where he flew Glider Infantry troops. 




In September, he participated in Operation Market Garden, the largest Airborne assault in history. Upon landing, he and the other glider pilots linked up to make it back from behind enemy lines. They came upon a deserted house in Belgium and decided to stay the night. There they found a wine cellar and spent the night getting drunk and shooting at wine bottles. The next day they found a Ford Model T and piled onto it, driving back to a friendly base.


After Market Garden, the winter of '44-'45 saw many of them grounded due to bad weather. In his spare time he censored mail for enlisted men, took trips to London, and flew as a co-pilot on C-47's and C-53's  for supply drops and transporting German POWs.


His last combat mission was when the Allies crossed the Rhine into Germany. the subsequent months saw little action for the glider pilots of the 34th Troop Carrier Squadron, now stationed in Amiens, France. He was sent home in May of 1945 where he completed school and became an optometrist. He was married in 1949 and had three children. He passed away in 2005 at the age of 88.

His awards and commendations include a Presidential Unit Citation, Air Medal, a Purple Heart, the Croix de Guerre, the EAME ribbon with 3 battle stars, the orange Market Garden lanyard, and the WWII Victory Medal. 


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