On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched a massive offensive to invade German-occupied Western Europe and deployed 24,000 paratroopers, who jumped into the warzone to join over 160,000 of their comrades on the ground. Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history.
The operation’s objective was to “secure a lodgement of the continent, from which further offensive operations can be developed.” And secure they did, in a grand display of military brilliance which remains unmatched until this day.
German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.
The invasion of Normandy when Allied forces took on the Germans in what would be one of the bloodiest, most brutal battles in history. A date where thousands of men died on France’s beaches and a date that American history will absolutely never forget. And also who will never forget, were those that were there.
Here in this clip, we find a 97-year-old WWII vet who was actually there. He requested to jump into a vivid memory, once again. And his request was granted. Can you imagine the feelings this hero had falling through the sky once again?
In honor of all those who fought and died in the war, a few hundred parachuters reenacted the same jump over Normandy on Wednesday. One of those who participated in the jump was 97-year-old D-Day veteran Tom Rice.
Tom Rice was with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division during that incredible day. Tom, along with thousands of others, parachuted into Normandy with heavy gunfire and others getting killed all around him. He recalls it was one of the worst jumps he’s ever had. Despite getting caught on the aircraft jumping out and a bullet striking his chute he landed safely. Today for Tom is more than just a jump, it honors all his comrades that sacrificed everything for our freedom.
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With many of his friends deceased or unable to handle the jump, Tom represents an entire generation. After training for 6 months Tom made the jump with an American flag waving proudly with thousands below cheering and applauding the aerial tribute.
Those on the ground watched the anxiety-inducing descent as strapped to another parachutist dangling beneath a stars and stripes canopy, the old man coasted through the sky, another gigantic American flag billowing out behind him.
Reaching the ground with only a slight stumble on impact, Rice proudly gave V for victory signs with his hands and, wearing a 101st Airborne baseball cap, said he felt “great” and was ready to “go back up and do it again.”
Rice, along with thousands of other, was in Normandy to mark the anniversary of the June 6 D-Day military operations that 75 years ago saw Allied forces turn the tide of World War II toward eventual defeat for Nazi Germany.
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Most participants were content with touring some of the broad landing beaches — with code names like Juno, Gold and Omaha — that saw legions of young men wade ashore into a barrage of German machine gun and artillery fire to push back German advances.