During the month of November, the 3rd Lights for Peace flag to fly at the Fort Taber - Fort Rodman Military Museum honors the memory of Captain Edward Vincent MacLean, of Fairhaven.

Mr. MacLean served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1957, earning the rank of Captain over fifteen years of service. MacLean’s greatest military achievement was surviving a landing in a 200ft. hedgerow field near Normandy, France, aboard a CG-4A Waco Troop/Cargo Glider during the D-Day Invasion, at the age of 24.

The Waco CG-4A was the most widely used American troop/cargo military glider of World War II. According to www.ddaymuseum.co.uk, there were a total of 867 gliders, between the U.S. Army and the Royal Air Force, that took part in the D-Day operations. The gliders carried 13 troops, along with the pilot and co-pilot, and their equipment including Jeeps, weapons, ammunition and personnel. 

The Standard-Times published an article entitled “Under the Cover of Darkness,” written by Curt Brown, on June 6, 2004 - the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. MacLean was interviewed at the age of 91 and explained that their job was to defend Allied troops against German tanks, if the beach assaults at Omaha, Utah, Juno, Gold and Sword were successful.

During MacLean’s interview with the Standard-Times, he recalled while flying over the English Channel under the cover of darkness “Everyone felt this was the beginning of the end,” he said. “Maybe we could finish this job and go home.” MacLean said hours before the departure, as they packed the glider at Ramsubury, the First Lieutenant (1LT) told him they were switching places. He never knew the reason for the switch, but he believes the 1LT wanted his Jeep. Fortunately for MacLean, that decision would ultimately save his life.

MacLean said it was quiet aboard the glider as he and the other soldiers were left to their private thoughts – wondering what they would encounter, what awaited them. “We were just thinking of what was ahead of us. We could see the explosions off the coast of France through the cockpit as we got closer. It was quiet, people were thinking, Am I going to make it?”

He said although there were no lights and no power on the gliders, the enemy knew their position because of the roar of the carrier’s two single engines mounted on each wing. Anti-aircraft fire pounded the carrier and the glider once they were in German’s sights. MacLean said the gunfire was intense near the beach and sporadic until about when they landed.

According to the Standard-Times article, at some point, MacLean fired at two Nazi soldiers and later a German sniper shot at him and the bullet passed through the small space between his arm and body. “It was a close call,” he said.

Later, when MacLean got to his Jeep, which he recognized from the lettering on the rear bumper, what he saw shook him to his core. The 1LT who had switched places with him when they were packing the gliders, was in the passenger seat, dead from bullet wounds to the back.

MacLean said that it wasn’t until days after the invasion that he had learned the invasion had been a success. He recalled the joy he felt when he saw a division of US. Troops marching down the paved road.

MacLean had studied Law and Accounting at Bryant College before entering into the military. He was employed by the New England Telephone Company for 35 years before retiring.

He also volunteered at the New Bedford branch of the Telecomm Pioneers to repair playback machines from the Perkins Brialle & Talking Book Library, the New Bedford Glass Museum and the Fort Taber- Fort Rodman Military Museum.

Edward MacLean passed away on November 23, 2015, at the age of 95. He was the son of the late Henry George MacLean and Mary Ann (Lawless) MacLean. He is survived by his beloved wife, Betty Ann (Breault) MacLean; stepdaughters Tara Violette and Angela Chester; and seven step grandchildren. He was married to the late Hilda Susan Delano for 60 years.

Linda Ferreira, of Empire Ford of New Bedford, researches the life histories of area residents. American flags are provided by Empire Ford of New Bedford. Flags are raised by the staff at Fort Taber - Fort Rodman Military Museum. Those who would like to honor a local veteran in the future, can contact Ferreira at lferreira@buyempireautogroup.com.


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