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Old friends reunite at Hurlburt

Crew of the Hurlburt C-47, tail number 43-15510,on Sept. 17, 1944, before the first mission of Operation Market Garden: Lt. John Harmonay, Lt. Bill Prindible, Staff Sgt. Mike Ingrisano and Tech. Sgt. Jules Zinkiewicz. (Courtesy photo)

Crew of the Hurlburt C-47, tail number 43-15510,on Sept. 17, 1944, before the first mission of Operation Market Garden: Lt. John Harmonay, Lt. Bill Prindible, Staff Sgt. Mike Ingrisano and Tech. Sgt. Jules Zinkiewicz. (Courtesy photo)

Staff Sgt. Mike Ingrisano and Lt. Bill Prindible with an old friend,
a C-47, tail number 43-15510, located in the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park. (Courtesy photo)

Staff Sgt. Mike Ingrisano and Lt. Bill Prindible with an old friend, a C-47, tail number 43-15510, located in the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park. (Courtesy photo)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Some old friends were recently reunited in the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park. Mike Ingrisano and Bill Prindible first met as members of the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron during World War II; their unit airdropped 82nd Airborne Division soldiers during the parachute assaults of the Normandy invasion and Operation Market Garden. In early November 2007, their squadron held a reunion in Pensacola. Although Mr. Ingrisano and Mr. Prindible knew many of the faces at the reunion, another old friend awaited them in the Hurlburt Air Park. 

The road to the reunion began in March 2007. Mr Ingrisano contacted the 1st Special Operations Wing history office to inquire about the serial number of the AC-47 on display in the Air Park. Records indicated the Hurlburt C-47 serial number was 42-100510. Mr. Ingrisano felt there was a mix-up. His personal research led him to believe the C-47 bearing that serial number had been transferred to the Turkish air force and ended its service career as a VIP Transport. His research also indicated the Hurlburt C-47 was actually serial number 43-15510, the aircraft he served aboard during the operations mentioned above. 

Mr. Ingrisano provided locations of combat damage sustained during the WWII operations. With this information in hand, the wing historians quickly identified the damage as described by Mr. Ingrisano. Although there was no data plate in the aircraft, the historians located a radio identification call-sign plate that identified the aircraft as 43-15510 and confirmed his research. They also conducted additional independent research confirming the other C-47 was still in Turkey. Working with the Air Force Special Operations Command history office and the National Museum of the Air Force, the aircraft records were corrected, preserving the heritage and importance of the aircraft and the men who served with her. The aircraft will be repainted in the near future and will display its "new" serial number. 

Throughout the war, Mr. Ingrisano served as the radio operator on the aircraft; Mr. Prindible was the pilot. Neither man had seen the plane since 1945, so their reunion with the old friend was poignant. As they toured the Air Park with other friends and family members, they shared memories and several anecdotes with the wing historians who, in turn, discussed the heritage of 1st SOW and United States Air Force special operations.