Parachute jump from WWII planes kicks off 80th anniversary of D-Day commemorations

Paratroopers rushed from World War II planes into the now peaceful Norman skies where war once raged, kicking off a week of ceremonies to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

On Sunday, three C-47 transport planes, the workhorse of war, dropped three long chains of jumpers, their round chutes opening like mushrooms into the blue sky with puffy white clouds, to the cries of the The immense crown feasted by Glenn’s teeth. Miller and Edith Piaf in the meantime.

The planes made a loop and dropped three more jumping sticks. Some of the crowd’s loudest cheers erupted when a startled deer leapt from the undergrowth as the jumpers landed and sprinted across the landing zone.

After a final pass to drop the last two jumpers, the planes then roared overhead in close formation and disappeared over the horizon.

U.S. soldiers fly by parachute during celebrations in Carentan-les-Marais, northwest France, June 2, 2024, as part of the D-Day commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy .

LOU BENOIST/aFP/AFP via Getty Images

A week of ceremonies is planned for the vanishing generation of Allied troops who fought from the D-Day beaches 80 years ago until the fall of Adolf Hitler, freeing Europe from his tyranny.

All along the Normandy coast – where young soldiers from the United States, Britain, Canada and other allied countries landed under hail of gunfire on five beaches on June 6, 1944 – French officials, grateful Norman survivors and other admirers. say “thank you” but also goodbye.

The ever-increasing number of veterans over the age of 90 who are returning to remember their fallen friends and their history-changing exploits is the latest.

Dozen of World War II veterans converge on Francemany perhaps for the last time, to revisit old memories, create new ones and hammer home a message that survivors of D-Day and the subsequent Battle of Normandy, as well as other theaters of the Second War world, have said time and time again – this war is hell.

“Seven thousand of my fellow sailors were killed. Twenty thousand shot, wounded, put on ships, buried at sea,” said Don Graves, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served on Iwo Jima in the war theater. Peaceful.

“I want the young people, the younger generation here, to know what we did,” said Graves, who was part of a group of more than 60 World War II veterans who visited Paris on Saturday.

American D-Day veteran Anthony Pagano arrives at Charles de Gaulle airport, Saturday June 1, 2024 in Roissy, north of Paris. More than sixty American veterans arrive at the ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the landing.

Thomas Padilla / AP

The youngest veteran in the group is 96 and the oldest is 107, according to their Dallas airline, American Airlines.

“We did our job and we came home and that’s it. We never talked about it, I think. For 70 years, I didn’t talk about it,” said another veteran, Ralph Goldsticker, a U.S. Air Force captain who served in the 452nd Bombardment Group.

Of the D-Day landings, he recalled seeing from his plane “a very large part of the beach with thousands of ships” and spoke of bombing German strongholds and routes that German forces might otherwise have used to rush in reinforcements to push. the invasion towards the sea.

“I dropped my first bomb at 6:58 a.m. on a heavy artillery position,” he said. “We got home, landed at 9:30 a.m. We recharged.”

The fireworks, parachute jumps, solemn commemorations and ceremonies that world leaders will attend this week are intended in particular to pass the baton of remembrance to current generations who are once again seeing war in Europe, in Ukraine. US President Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the British royal family are among the VIPs France is expecting for the D-Day events.

80 years after D-Day, historians work to preserve the stories

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