The museum’s commemorative event recognized the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden — the Liberation of Holland by unveiling its historic WWII C-47 Skytrain nose which is undergoing a full restoration and honoring the memory of 2nd LT. A. Dalessandro, from Woodbury, who was a pilot during that operation, and all those who served on that mission.
Operation Market Garden was the largest airborne operation up to that date during the war. Thirty-four thousand Allied paratroopers and glidermen — American, British and Polish — were delivered into Holland by air that day to secure a northern route over the Rhine River for ground forces, which could have ended the war by Christmas.
“It was a tough fight with mixed results,” said Bob Dalessandro, whose father will be commemorated on the MAAFM’s Skytrain nose. “On that day in history, ninety C-47s of the 436th Troop Carrier Group departed RAF Membury, England, for the 625-mile flight to their drop zone in Holland. My dad piloted one of those C-47s. It was his first combat mission of the war.”
Bob Dalessandro, from Woodbury, NJ, who served in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1980, and Col. Bob Leicht, retired Airborne Infantryman, from Middletown, DE, are project leaders for the restoration of the C-47 Skytrain nose. Leicht has a distinguished military career of 27 years with the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces. Tim Jacobsen, retired educator from Millville, NJ, is the on-site director of the project, overseeing technical work and painting.
Dalessandro and Leicht started restoration of the C-47 nose at the Millville Army Air Field Museum this summer, and with the help of a team of volunteers from the museum, the anticipated completion date is spring of 2020, in time for an unveiling at the scheduled 2020 Millville Wheels and Wings Airshow on Memorial Day weekend.
The C-47 Skytrain nose will undergo a full exterior and cockpit restoration and once complete will display the insignia and historically accurate paint scheme of the 80th Troop Carrier Transport, 436th Troop Carrier Group of the European Theater of Operations, WWII. The nose is on long-term loan to the MAAFM from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.