This photo and small article from the Screaming Eagle Newsletter dated September-October 1950 was brought to my attention recently.

Naturally, I was thrilled, because the host of this gathering was my father, David Tharp of the 101st Airborne, 502nd PIR, Reg. Hq. It was held at our lake house the year before I was born in Miller, Indiana on Lake Michigan. However, Dad would continue these get togethers until we moved in 1955. This is a picture of Dad while in service. The group picture is of Dad, my sister, Cynthia, myself and my older sister, Michele. The article photo shows Dad standing as the tallest in the center, second row. My mother, Betty Tharp is sitting in front, also center.

I was 3 or 4 years old at yet another Airborne gathering at our home in 1953 or 1954 and remember the adults taking what I thought was a white sheet, folding it and swinging us kids inside of it. It was a brilliant sunny day. I remember laughing and loving the sun filtering through the “sheet.” I told my mom about it many, many years later and wasn’t sure if it was a dream or a memory. She couldn’t get over my remembering it and that it was not a sheet, but a silk parachute!

Judy Cahoon Egan, whose father Robert H. Cahoon also served with the 101st Airborne, 502nd PIR, C Company graciously sent me a message stating that she had some older Screaming Eagle Magazines and saw my father’s name mentioned quite often. She asked if he ever attended the reunions in Chicago. He did and we as a family attended several summer reunions in the late fifties and early sixties. I am sure that her father and mine met each other during those reunions.

I was in awe meeting the unit’s German interpreter at the reunions and how they told us that they would ask trick questions to filter through Germans parading as American soldiers! There was another memory recalled by one of Dad’s comrades after they had captured some German soldiers who kept staring at my dad. When he spouted, “What the hell are they staring at?” His friends started laughing and said, “David, they think that tattoo on your forearm is a swastika!” Dad had tattooed over an old girlfriend’s initial “L” and from a distance did look somewhat like the symbol used by the Nazis.

I never dreamed that I would one day publish Dad’s wartime letters saved by my mother in the book Comes A Soldier’s Whisper or be interviewing veterans and publishing their stories.

Life truly is a gift that keeps on giving
~ Jenny Tharp La Sala
Veteran Tribute Page COMES A Soldier’s Whisper
Military Bookshelf: www.JennyLasala.com

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