The 17th Airborne Division did not just “fade away” at the end of World War II, but continued under the banner of the 17th Airborne Division Association. The Association existed until 2007.

 

Although the Division was officially deactivated at the end of World War II, the Association was formed at Camp Victoret, Marseilles, France – on September 6, 1945 – for the purpose of perpetuating the spirit and comradeship of all the men - approximately 20,000 - who had served as members of the 17th Airborne Division, and to provide for the continuance of a close relationship between them for the furtherance of their common interests.

 

The Association’s existence was “touch and go” during the years 1945 – 1953 due to discharge of most of the men from the military and their scattering to the four corners of the United States. Finally, however, a nucleus of some two dozen members met in Pittsburgh in 1953 and put the Association on firm footing. From that point forward the veterans held annual reunions in cities all over the United States.

Here are some highlights of the Association's activities:

 

  • Annual reunions held the second weekend in August each year from 1954 to 2007

  • Reunions held all over the USA – Atlanta, Binghamton, Boston, Buffalo, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Hartford, Hershey, Indianapolis, Memphis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Poconos, St. Charles, Tucson, Washington D.C., San Jose.

  • Six memorable pilgrimages made to Europe (1968, 1972, 1975, 1978, 1982, and 1984). Visits to Swindon, Tidworth, Barton Stacey, Chiseldon, Ogburn St. George, Chalons sur Marne, Flamierge, Flamizoulle, Monty, Houffalize, Wesel, Dortmund, Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, etc. including reunions with British, French, Polish, Russian, and German WWII Troopers.

  • Dedication of Plaque honoring the 17th Airborne Division in Houffalize, Belgium.

  • “Operation Varsity” parties in March of each year, in several locations across the United States, to commemorate the paratrooper and glidertrooper crossing of the Rhine.

  • Newsletters published three times a year and sent to all members.

  • An up to date roster maintained of names and addresses of 5,000 17th Airborne glidertroopers and paratroopers who served from 1943-45.

Three C Company/194th Glider Infantry Regiment men enjoying the Association reunion in French Lick, Indiana in 1987.  James Foster is on the left. Richard Wise is in the center and Frank O'Rourke is on the right.  Photo courtesy of Scion Kerri Whitaker.

Official website of the veterans and descendants of the 17th Airborne Division.  World War II US Army paratroopers