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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Operation Torch: WW2’s first Paratrooper Missions Were On One-Way Flights With Drops Into Total Darkness

00:00 34:38
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The December 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the
United States into World War II. Just six months later in May 1942,
flying new C-47 transport aircraft, the 60th Troop Carrier Group led
the way as the first U.S. TCG to deploy to England and the European
Theater of Operations in World War II. Leading the way to victory,
the 60th TCG’s first mission—dropping U. S. paratroopers outside of
Oran, North Africa—was not only the first combat airborne mission
in U.S. Army history, but also the longest airborne mission of the
entire war. This drop spearheaded Operation TORCH, also known as
the Invasion of North Africa, by taking key Axis airfields just inland
from the amphibious landing zones. The 60th TCG went on to fly some of the first combat aeromedical evacuation missions and the first combat mission towing CG-4A “Waco” gliders during Operation HUSKY—the Invasion of Sicily. As the new airborne, air land,
aeromedical evacuation, and glider missions matured in World War
II, the 60th TCG continued to play a major role, paying in blood for
valuable lessons learned in the school of hard knocks. The group later
flew dramatic missions into Yugoslavia, supporting Partisans as part
of the secret war in the Balkans, an episode of World War II history
still all but unknown today and dropped British paratroops in the
airborne invasion of Greece. The Group was inactivated at the end of
the war. Today’s guest is Col. Mark C. Vlahos, author of “Leading the Way to Victory: A History of the 60th Troop Carrier Group 1940-1945.” We look at the group’s battles, adversity, hardships, and triumphs from inception through the Allied victory in Europe.
March 02, 2023
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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