97-year-old D-Day Vet Parachutes Over Normandy 75 years Later


  • Tom Rice first jumped out of a plane over the Normandy coast as a U.S. World War II paratrooper.
  • After 75 years, the 97-year-old joined about 200 parachutists marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which began on June 6, 1944.
  • Tom, a San Diego native jumped from “the same type of C-47 military transport plane used in WWII into the very same landing zone he jumped into on that fateful day 75 years ago,” according to ABC affiliate WJXX.

Tom Rice, a World War II veteran parachuted into Normandy on Wednesday, jumping from “the same type of C-47 military transport plane” he jumped from 75 years ago during the D-Day invasion.

The 97-year-old jumped with about 200 other parachutists in honor of the airborne soldiers in the June 6, 1944, allied invasion.

“It went perfect, perfect jump,” he said. “I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again.”

A native of San Diego, Rice jumped into the very same landing zone he jumped into on that fateful day 75 years ago, according to ABC affiliate WJXX.

The D-day vet jumped in tandem with a trainer.  An American flag attached to them waved during their descent, prompting applause from the crowd below. The parachute matched the red, white, and blue flag.

Rice is a former paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, known as the “Screaming Eagles.” The group trained six months for the chance to make the jump over Normandy one last time. He requested to pull the handle that released the giant American flag himself, WJXX reported.

The Normandy landings are considered a pivotal turning point for the Allies’ victory in WWII. Over 13,000 U.S. paratroopers left England and descended upon the beaches of Normandy on D-Day to free Germany-occupied France.

Rice recalled to the Associated Press that a bullet struck his parachute that day and it was “the worst jump I ever had.”

“I got my left armpit caught in the lower left-hand corner of the door so I swung out, came back, and hit the side of the aircraft, swung out again and came back, and I just tried to straighten my arm out and I got free,” Rice said.

Photo Credit: IAN LANGSDON/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Rice released a book in 2004, titled Trial by Combat — a personal account of his experience as a paratrooper during the battle for Normandy.

“Woo-hoo!” Rice said triumphantly after landing. “I represent a whole generation.”

When asked again how old was he, he responded with gusto: “I’m 97 and 8/12.”

 

Source: People

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