War Veteran Who Parachuted In D-Day Relives Courageous Jump
Tom Rice, 97, joined other jumpers in Nomandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the 6 June landings by 150,000 allied troops - a fateful day that Rice said featured 'the worst jump I ever had'.
Jumping in tandem with another parachuter, thankfully the experience today (Wednesday 5 June) was much happier for Rice, who served with the 101st Airbone.
"It went perfect, perfect jump," Rice said after the jump - which he's been preparing for for the past six months with the help of a trainer.
"I feel great. I'd go up and do it all again."
Recalling his original jump in the 1940s, Rice told The Associated Press: "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."
When asked what his D-Day comrades would have felt about him recreating their bravery, Rice said: "They would love it."
He added: "Some of them couldn't handle it. Many of them are deceased. We had 38% casualties."
With the number of D-Day survivors dwindling, Rice said he represented 'a whole generation', but admitted the painful memories of the war have always remained with him.
"All the GIs suffer from some blame and shame," Rice said.
"It bothers us all the time for what we did. We did a lot of destruction, damage. And we chased the Germans out, and coming back here is a matter of closure. You can close the issue now."
Other jumps involving British veterans also took place later in the day at Sannerville, where a series of events marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
Robert Schaefer, a retired lieutenant colonel with the US Army's Green Berets who served in Afghanistan, also took part in a jump.
He carried whisky, cigars and the dog tag and wallet that his grandfather, George J. Ehmet, had with him when he'd fought in France as an artilleryman.
"I feel like I got to jump with my grandpa," Schaefer said afterwards.
Many spectators were even in full WWII-style uniforms, while music from the 1940s played over loudspeakers to transport the crowds back in time.
Featured Image Credit: PA