Sergeant Mike Ingrisano
Market Garden - Arnhem, The Nethelands
37th Troop Carrier Squadron - 316th Troop Carrier Group
Staff Sergeant Michael N. Ingrisano,
Jr, ASN 12129759, born in Brooklyn, New York, March 28, 1921, enlisted
at Whitehall Street, New York City, September 3, 1942. After basic
training at Miami Beach, received training as a Radio Operator Mechanic
in Chicago, Illinois. First assigned to the 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron
at Alliance Air Base, Nebraska. Joined the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron,
316th Troop Carrier Group in El Kabrit, Egypt, on August 17, 1943.
Remained with the 37th for the rest of his military career. Was
honorably discharged on September 3, 1945.
During 21 months overseas, Ingrisano flew approximately 1500 combat
hours. He earned Air Medals for Normandy (Neptune), Holland (Market
Garden), and Germany (Varsity). He wore nine battle stars, and three
Presidential Unit Citations.
Market Garden, D-Day, Sunday, September 17,
My C-47 was serial number 43-15510. Marked with W7, Field Number
25, Tail Letter "F". For this mission, we were Chalk Number
24, to drop members of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd
Airborne, (The same that we had dropped in Sicily, Italy, and Normandy),
from Serial A-7 on Drop Zone (DZ) "N." Actually the lead
plane in our serial from the 44th Troop Carrier Squadron, led the
parade, dropping General James Gavin. Lift off time from Cottesmore
RAF Air Base was 10:35 hours.
My crew, as it had been on D-Day Normandy, were:
Lt. Bill Prindible (pilot),
Lt. John Harmonay (co-pilot),
Technical Sergeant Julius Ziankiewicz,
and myself as radio operator.
The weather was perfectly clear when we reached landfall on the
Holland coast at approximately 12:15 hours. We dropped 685 troopers
and 270 parapacks at DZ "N" near Nijmegen at approximately
As I recall, we encountered rather little flak but all I that I
recall was voiced in a letter written to my fiancee, Bette Hill,
that evening when we got back to Cottesmore. "As tired as I
am and as busy as I have been, I must write to you this evening.
It has been a few days since I've written but I am sure a sort of
reassurance will make you feel better. Right now all the past seems
so far beyond. (I might as well be honest, I'll be damned if I can
concentrate,) I want to keep on saying, 'I love you.' 'I love you.'
and keep repeating it over and over again without saying anything
D+1, Monday, September 18, 1944
The same aircraft, T/Sgt. Clete Carmean, my regular crew chief was
the only change in crew, and this time we were Chalk Number 7. This
was our first combat glider tow, and the 37th led the 316th Group.
We towed elements of the 82nd's 319th Glider Field Artillery to
Landing Zone (LZ) "T" near Groesbeek. As we neared the
coast of Holland, I saw flashes from the Schouwen Islands which
I later learned were the famous German 88 MM cannons. They fired
at a regular pace at no one particular target because the resultant
flak easily penetrated the aluminum skins of the C-47s, and the
canvas skins of the CG-4A gliders.
As we went down the Maas River, I recall seeing American fighter
planes attacking barges on the river. But when the fighters departed,
I remember the tops of the barges sliding back and there were German
gunners playing their tattoo on our crafts.
But for me, the worst was yet to come. Just prior to dropping our
glider, I was seated in my RO position, which was behind a storage
compartment where we kept our parachutes, and the co-pilot's position.
Suddenly there was a rapid burst of fire which seemed to penetrate
right over my head. I jumped up, went over to the vacant navigator's
position, and looked out and down from the small window at that
position at the Germans who were firing at us. I remember the one
who seems to be hitting our craft. He was blond, (had no helmet
on) had a big smile on his face, and every time that he squeezed
the trigger of his Schmeisser, the bullets pierced our cabin. (In
his book, "It Never Snows In September," Robert Kershaw
shows pictures on pages 158-159 of German gunners firing at C-47s.
I could swear that one of them was the guy that was giving was a
good pasting.) Except for the holes in our plane's skin, all of
us were untouched, physically.
In my September 20 letter to Bette, I wrote, "It has been days
since I wrote to you. I don't know exactly how long because my mind
has been slightly befuddled..Wish I could tell half of the things
I am doing so that I can make some thing of my letters. I have been
so 'geared up' lately that I can't even think straight. I should
have a million and one things to say but I am so fidgety I can't
sit long enough to write."
D+6, Saturday, September 23, 1944
This was our last combat glider tow. Again we towed elements of
the 82nd's 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. I have no record of our
Chalk Number, but the crew remained the same. My 43-15510 was repaired
and flyable. Our target was LZ "O" in about the same area
as the first tow.
All I recall is that as we neared the LZ, we were hit by small arms
fire. I jumped up and moved toward the cockpit. A shell came through
on the right side of the plane. It sparked so that I instinctively
moved my head to shield my face with my right hand, just as the
missile passed by my hand and exited through the top of the fuselage.
Immediately upon releasing the glider, Lt. Bill Prindible nosed
down at full power to head home on the deck. Just ahead of us was
a German machine gun nest facing away from our line of flight. Bill
told me to release our tow line (which was 300 feet of nylon, with
two large shackles, one on each end fastened to the plane and to
the glider. When the glider cut loose, the rope remained for us
to let loose.) on his command so that we could "get ourselves
a few Germans." Our towline was right on target, but we will
never know if we got our Germans!
On the next day, Ziankiewicz came to my barrack and asked me to
join him on the flight line where our plane was being repaired.
He showed me a hole in the left wing gas tank where a 20mm shell
had penetrated the tank but had not exploded!
On Sunday, September 24, I wrote Bette that it was "A beautifully
miserable Sunday afternoon, nothing to do and for the first time
my mind feels perfectly relaxed. Relaxed enough to be able to write
a decent letter..While I was in church this morning, I was aware
of the fact that this last week was the longest in my life. For
the first time, I was able to look back over the week and it seemed
like an eternity since I went to Mass last Sunday, Now I feel so
relaxed everything seems like a bad dream."
D+9, Tuesday, September 26, 1944
We flew into Keent, near Grave, with troop replacements and supplies.
I have no records but I am sure we flew the same crew. This mission
was basically flown by the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing, of which the
316th was a part. Wing aircraft were in the air from midday until
2000 hours. The landing strip, a large flat piece of grassy ground,
was formerly a German emergency airstrip.
The conditions were so precarious that ground forces were organized
to land, unload, and reload to get serials of 36 planes airborne
before the next serial moved in.
For over fifty years, I told the story that my plane was the last
in line. If we had not gotten off the ground when we did, we would
have been taken prisoners because the Germans soon recaptured the
area. I was convinced of the truth of my recollection, until Jan
Bos, a native of Nijmegen, came to the States to do research with
me some time in 1996. He stayed with us and he presented me with
a gift, a picture of my aircraft.
There she was, W7, No. 25, on the ground at Keent, and one can count
about eleven or twelve planes behind her. So much for memory!
And so on September 26, I wrote to Bette: "Good Evening.Although
I should crawl, if I can make it into the sack, I must write to
you before I retire.There are a million and one things which I thought
today-A million of them cannot be explained because of that 3rd
person, the censor."
Mike Ingrisano standing in front of his plane with the 37th TCS.
Before the paradrop of operation Market Garden 17th september 1944.
Along with my crew:
Lt. Bill Prindible (pilot),
Lt. John Harmonay (co-pilot),
Mike Ingrisano (radio operator),
Julius Ziankiewicz (Technical Sergeant)
The 37th TCS at Grave (Keent) before
taking off to return to Cottesmore, England, our home base.
Mike also wrote
- Valour Without
- And Nothing Is Said
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