DC-4

Prague Veterans Air crew arrives 1946

A pride hard to verbalize shudders through me every time I see this film footage of my Dad’s crew members disembarking from the Veterans Air Line DC-4 in Prague. Saunie Gravely was 22 when he got the idea of an all-Veterans air service. And this amazing footage is proof of his dream-become-reality. Come watch. Sorry, no popcorn today.

Veterans Air Express Prague 1946

My Dad’s 1945 airline won a war-relief contract with the UNRRA. His crews flew five DC-4 trips, each loaded with 5 tons of hatching eggs to Prague and Warsaw. Seventy years later, to commemorate the Veterans Air Express Prague flight in May 1946, I am going to Prague.

Meet Veterans Air Express Flight Engineer Thomas Cowart. I did!

In 1942 & ’43 the Army Air Corps turned Thomas E. Cowart from a farm boy into an aircraft mechanic and later a flight engineer. He flew the world as part of an Air Transport group led by Captain Cooper Walker. And after the war, Walker encouraged Cowart to join him at Veterans Air Express and fly the world again. Thomas tells me his vivid-memory story. Come meet him.

Broughton, Martz, Cowart: Veterans Air Express Breaking News

Look who I found!! Two sons, Craig & Robert, of 1945 1st Officer Richard Broughton. And two original crew members, Edward Martz, navigator, living in NJ and Thomas Cowart, flight engineer, living in SC. They ALL flew multiple trips for the Veterans Air Express United Nations war relief contract to Prague, Warsaw and Athens. It’s intriguing! And I am psyched!

Veterans Air Express contract with UNRRA flown by Stettner, Jakeman, Noll, et al.

An “experimental” DC-4. A high-energy group of hardworking ex-servicemen. A Veterans Air Express UNRRA contract for cargo flights behind the iron curtain. And Newark/Miami winter passenger flights. By mid-1946, the all-veterans organization was becoming recognized and starting to thrive.