A Object of memory, a memory object...
During our museum exibition in august 2012, in Les Arcs, southern France a old friend farmer came across a life preserver he found when he was cleaning his barn.
He visited our museum exibition , happy to see that southern France "D" day was so well perpetuate for the new generation he presented this life preserver buoy for museum exibit.
Albert was a little 12 years old kid on the 15th of august 1944. On his way back from school , he loved playing in the American Waco gliders landed on his vigneyards some weeks ago . One day, he found this life preserver in a glider on landing Zone "A", between Les Arcs and La Motte and decided to keep it as a good buoy when he was fishing or swimming in the "Argens" river in the summertime.
Then, Albert grew up, and the life preserver stayed on his barn, as a souvenir of that day of freedom .
Happy to know that some new generation were perpetuing and honnoring these heros, he decided that his buoy will be in good hands in the museum exibit.
After cleaning the 70 years dust on it, a name and a number appear on it :
LT. E.A. WATERFILL
0-8 1 1 8 1 5
At that time we do not realise it could be the owner of that life preserver, and only take care of it as a relic of that day and put it under glass.
When J. M. Soldi became member of the U.S Airforce National glider pilots research team in charge of the Southern France "D" day investigation he was able to have archives access to the operation
repports and finaly find who was LT. E.A. WATERFILL.
We first expected he was a glider pilot, but he was not on the files, so we tought he was a paratrooper, but he was not, or may be a glider rider, but he was not.
then the investigation came to the US Air force troop carriers, and on the 76th squadron, he finaly located these informations :
..." The drop was scheduled for the morning of "D" plus one, august 16. Target was Drop Zone "A". The approach was from East to West with the bundles and parapacks falling on the DZ, or slightly beyond.
This serial was led by LT. Colonel John H. NEALE, group executive officer. The 76th squadron furnished 16 ships (airplanes) crewed as follows : Plane Number one of the group formation, belonging to the 76th was pîloted by Lt. colonel John H. NEALE, co-pilot was 1st Lt. George T. MADELLENA, navigator 1st Lieutnant. Eugene A. WATERFILL, crew chief T/Sgt Errol O. FOSSEN and radio operator S/Sgt Joseph E. KOT. " ...
We got him !!!! fantastic... we were able to identified the life preserver owner... but a big mistery is is on top of that life preserver... Why Eugene WATERFILL buoy arrived on the landing Zone "A" by glider a day before he dropped the airborne supply on this zone..
The only possibility is that Lieutnant Eugene WATERFILL gave his own life preserver to a young infantry man terrified to ride a glider with the possibility to land into the sea. ..
We hope one day we will be able to locate Eugene WATERFILL or his family and know what happen on this heroïc action.
With courtezy of the WWII national glider pilots association archives. Leon B. Spencer research team.