101st Airborne


Division Association,


Michigan Chapter



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• The 101st Airborne Division: “A Rendezvous with Destiny!”


• The 101st Airborne Division Association and the Michigan Chapter


• An Overarching History of the 101st Airborne Division


• The History of the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault


• 101st Airborne Division Association Michigan Chapter
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101st Airborne Division Association
Michigan Chapter




President ………………………… Col. Edward H. Hirsch (Ret.) (  
Secretary/ Treasurer…………  John C. Sosa (
1st Vice President………………  Calvin L. Kirschner ( 
Sargent-at-Arms …...............  Henry Heatley (313) 885-5309  
Chaplain…………………………… David B. Kelly ( 
Executive Committeeman …. Patrick B. Kavanaugh, Ph.D. (
Administrative Assistant …… Jeanette Novak (


Chapter Photographer ………. David B. Kelly (



When WWII ended in Europe, the 101st Airborne Division’s National Association was formed and Major General Maxwell D. Taylor was elected as its first President. Its first Annual Reunion was held shortly thereafter in Indianapolis in 1946 and has been held annually ever since. A different venue is selected each year by the Association’s reunion committee with preference given to those locations that have an active chapter. In 2020, for example, the Michigan Chapter is proud to host the National Reunion at the Amway Hotel in Grand Rapids from August 13th - 16th. The Michigan chapter has been an active chapter in the National Association for over 33 years, celebrating its founding this past December. And it has a long and storied history.


The genealogy of the Michigan Chapter traces its roots back to a small group of WWII veterans of the 101st Airborne Division that first met in Detroit at the old Veteran’s Memorial building, located on the banks of the Detroit River overlooking Windsor, Ontario (Canada).  They met in the month of December in commemoration of the Battle of the Bulge. They wanted to honor the memory of the men of the 101st who fought with such valor at the small, pivotal village of Bastogne (Belgium): They had fought against unbelievable odds in horrific weather conditions. Some 30 German divisions relentlessly attacked the battle-fatigued American troops across 85 miles of the densely wooded Ardennes Forest in freezing rain, thick fog, deep snow drifts and record-breaking low temperatures. The battle lasted for six brutal weeks, from December 16th, 1944 to January 25th, 1945.


The small group of veterans that met at the old Veteran’s Memorial building in Detroit called themselves, “The Nuts Club.” And there was historical meaning and purpose -and rhythm and rhyme, to their name choice. On December 22nd, 1944 the Germans had sent a message to Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe, the acting division commander of the 101st Airborne Division troops defending Bastogne, demanding his surrender to avoid certain defeat and humiliation. And he gave his now famous one-word response: “Nuts!” The small group of veterans that met at the old Veteran’s Memorial building in Detroit called themselves, “The Nuts Club” in honor of the valor, commitment, and sacrifice -and patriotic defiance, of General McAuliffe and their 101st Airborne Division comrades. This is an integral part of the Michigan Chapter’s history and legacy.
The Michigan Chapter was the inception of George E. Koskimaki, the well noted 101st Airborne Division historian and author(1). The first meeting took place on June 6, 1983 at the Finnish American Club in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Three years later -on December 14, 1986, the Chapter’s national charter was rendered at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. Then President George Rosie accepted the charter from the National Association’s Executive Secretary, Debra Jellison, and the Michigan Chapter became a member of the National Association. Since that time both the National Association and the Michigan Chapter have continued to grow and evolve in terms of their membership, mission, and purpose.


Consistent with our 501(c) (3) status, the Michigan Chapter’s activities have been organized around supporting and providing education in two significant areas: first, supporting the Screaming Eagle Scholarship Foundation, financially and otherwise, the purpose of which is to provide financial assistance to the Association’s members and their families in pursuing their higher education and, second, providing educational programs on some aspect of military history for our Chapter members at our monthly meetings. More specifically: In 2018, $83,100 in scholarships were awarded to the spouses, children, and grandchildren of the Association’s members. And our recent monthly programs have featured movies like The Battle of Easter Sunday and The Eagles of Mercy, and have included dynamic presentations from speakers like “Rosie the Riveter” from the Yankee Air Museum, a Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum located at the Willow Run airport.
The Michigan Chapter meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month with the exception of July and August.
Camaraderie and an interest in military history characterize these monthly meetings and our annual reunions, the next of which will be held at the Soaring Eagle Hotel and Casino, September 4th - 6th, 2020 in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. But, the Chapter offers much more than simply the opportunity to gather for camaraderie or to learn more about some aspect of military history, as important and interesting as these opportunities at our gatherings might be.


At the 2019 reunion in Fenton, the Chapter’s mission statement was revisited and revised, endorsed by the executive committee, and ratified by the membership. With its adoption, the Michigan Chapter’s educational mission and purpose has expanded and now extends into the community. Henceforth, our educational mission is:


To continue the legacy of the 101st Airborne Division Association

through community-based outreach and educational programs.


In effect, we have extended our educational vision, purpose, and activity into local communities throughout Michigan. Practically speaking, our members are encouraged to become more actively involved by organizing educational programs that emphasize the values of commitment, sacrifice, integrity, and patriotism and presenting these programs to their local community leaders, members, and students. In so doing, they honor the history, core values, and cherished traditions of the 101st Airborne Division Association as they weave them into the social fabric of our local communities. And in some small way, we continue the legacy of “The Nuts Club.” This educational vision and focus have been incorporated into our recently adopted mission statement and guides our activities in the community.(2)

The recent expansion of our educational vision and mission is deeply rooted in the history of the 101st Airborne Division and its ongoing defense of freedom. Known as “the tip of the spear,” the 101st was activated in August 1942 in response to Nazi Germany’s global ambitions and its existential threat to the Westernized world. Its first commander, Major General William C. Lee, noted that the 101st had no history, but had “a Rendezvous with Destiny.” The Michigan Chapter is dedicated to the spirit, values, and traditions of freedom and liberty. Our recently expanded educational emphasis, effort, and focus carries on our own “Rendezvous with Destiny” as we actively transmit our history, values, and sense of purpose to the next generation. And in so doing, we continue to live our lives with a moral purpose as we support our nation, our communities, and especially each other.(3)


As we speak with our local community leaders, members, and students, we honor, remember, and memorialize those who have gone before us. Indeed, all gave some and some gave all in the defense of freedom and liberty. Our freedoms are precious, but they are certainly not free. They never have been. Once again, we find ourselves at “the tip of the spear.” And every chapter member can contribute in some significant and meaningful way, if they so choose. The expansion of our educational mission into the community calls upon every member to consider stepping up and, once again, answering the call to service by actively communicating their personal stories, cherished values, and lived experiences to their children and grandchildren, relatives and neighbors, and -for those interested, to their local community leaders, groups, and students in middle and high school and college.

In effect, every chapter member is seen as an historian who has lived the history, beliefs, and values of which -and from which, they speak: They have walked the walk in their lived experiences. It is important to now talk about how, when, and where they walked. And, most importantly, why it has been so important for them to have done so. That is, to protect and defend the freedom and liberty of all people, irrespective of their religion, skin color, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or sexual preference. 

Consider joining -or in some other way supporting, the Michigan Chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association. Continue the legacy…

(1). A former paratrooper who jumped into Normandy, Koskimaki served as General Maxwell Taylor’s radioman. He later went on to become a preeminent historian of the 101st Airborne Division. His books include: The Battered Bastards of Bastogne; The 101st Airborne and the Battle of the Bulge, December 19, 1944-January 17, 1945; D-Day with the Screaming Eagles; and, Hell’s Highway: A Chronicle of the 101st Airborne Division in the Holland Campaign, September-November 1944.

(2). The Chapter’s educational vision is similar in purpose and spirit to the Medal of Honor character development program that contributes to the character formation and development of middle and high school students by incorporating the ideals of courage and selfless service into their educational curriculum (

(3). John Sosa, Association President’s Message, The Screaming Eagle, 2nd QTR 2019.