Lt. Col. Edward H. Holterman, CO of the 1303rd, greets another veteran airman,
Air Marshal Breadner, commander in chief of the Canadian Air Force when the
latter recently stopped at Agra.
The amiable air-minded CO manages to meet almost every passenger ship.
Published by India China Division,
Air Transport Command
Jan. 25, 1945
|Edward Holterman-Flying Pioneer and
Veteran of Two World Wars
By Harold Eaton Special To The Standard
As Veteran's Day approaches, it is proper to pause to remember the many citizens of Woodstock who have served our country in the military. Honor rolls for two of our nation's wars memorialize the names of the men and women from this town who served in the World Wars. Those who served in World War I are listed on the honor roll located on the front of the Town Hall. Those who served in World War II are listed on the honor roll located in front of the Windsor County Court House.
The United States involvement in World War II began some twenty three years after World War I ended. As a result, the names of many sons and daughters of the World War I veterans are to be found on the World War II honor roll. Perhaps several men and women from this area served in some capacity in both world wars, but there are only two names that are found on both honor rolls: Edward Holterman and Paul Ransom. This is the story of one of them.
Edward Henry Holterman was born in Napoleon, Ohio in January of 1886. From an early age, he was keenly interested in flying. He was five weeks short of his 18th birthday when the Wright brothers made their famous flight at Kitty Hawk in December 1903. His interest piqued, Holterman became actively involved in flying shortly thereafter. While the exact date of his first solo flight is unknown, by the 1910s Holterman had hundreds of hours of flying time. His early flying experience made him one of only 598 members of the Early Birds of Aviation, those with confirmed solo flights before December 1916.
Holterman moved to Woodstock shortly before the outbreak of World War I and volunteered for flying service in the Army even before the United States officially entered the war in April 1917. Already 31 years old, Holterman was one of the most experienced pilots in the country at that time. Being several years older and far more experienced than most pilots, it was not surprising that Holterman served as a Command Pilot and flying instructor during World War I as a member of the Army Air Corps.
Upon returning to Woodstock after the war, "Holtie," as he was known to his friends, started Holterman's Warehouse, a farm machinery and equipment business located on the east end of the village in the building most recently occupied by Poma, which still stands today. Private aviation was still in its infancy and navigation was done by map or naked eye. As a navigational aid to flyers at the time, Holterman painted a large "N" with an arrow pointing north on the top of his warehouse building in the 1920s.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Holterman continued to fly. He often flew in and around Woodstock, frequently using the landing strip of Frederick Lee located behind Billings Farm. It was common for Holterman to fly low over the village "buzzing" his good friend Ed Welchman at H.S. Dana Insurance. Both Lee and Welchman would go on to serve as officers in World War II.
In 1932, Holterman was an alternate delegate from Vermont to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. The Republicans would re-nominate President Herbert Hoover at that convention.
In addition to his interest in flying, Holterman was an avid fisherman and served as president of the Lakota Club. When wood was scarce during the depression, he and Welchman obtained the lumber for the interior paneling of the Lakota Club building from crates which had been used to ship airplanes.
When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, Holterman was just a few weeks short of his 56th birthday. He again answered his nation's call, returning to active duty in 1942. Despite his age, he was given a flying assignment and was stationed in the China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre. During World War II he flew "the Hump" the treacherous route over the Himalayan Mountains used to supply Chinese forces. As a Lieutenant Colonel, Holterman assumed command of the 1306 base unit in India on February 10, 1944. He remained in command of the unit until July 19, 1945. During that time the airfields at Agra and Karachi were under his command. In 1945, he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service as commanding officer. He was subsequently promoted to Colonel and returned to the U.S. in 1946. He was honorably discharged from the Army Air Corps and returned to Woodstock in 1946 at the age of 60.
Once back in Woodstock, Col. Holterman continued with his farm machinery business at its same location. A lifelong bachelor, Holterman tried his hand at marriage at age 61, marrying Ellie Miller Wustlich in 1947. After marriage, he lived in Woodstock with his wife and young step-daughter, Gretchen. He remained active in Holterman's Warehouse and the Woodstock business community until he was stricken with cancer. He died at his home on River Street on March 28, 1954 at age 68. During his funeral, the shades on businesses in the village were drawn out of respect for his nearly 40 years as a Woodstock merchant.
Following his death, Holterman's Warehouse was sold to George Nelson, who operated the business for many years. Holterman's wife, Ellie, for whom Hoagie Carmichael penned the hit song "Stardust," died in 1965 at age 57. She is buried beside Col. Holterman in the River Street cemetery. "Holtie's" footlocker, looking just as it did upon his return from India in 1946, remains in the possession of his step-daughter Gretchen Russell, who continues to reside in Woodstock to this day.
Many older residents may remember "Holtie," but fewer know of the vital roll he played in the early days of American aviation. An Early Bird of Aviation and a veteran of two world wars, Col. Holterman truly was Woodstock's flying pioneer. This Veteran's Day we salute him and all who have served our country.
Editor's Note: This article was contributd by Harold Eaton
through the courtesy of Phillip Camp, Publisher
and with the help of Kat Fulcher, Webmaster
of The Vermont Standard
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster of Members
January 1, 1993
If you have any information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper