News / Europe

Paratroopers of D-Day Honored in Skies Over Normandy

Paratroopers of D-Day Honored in Skies Over Normandyi
X
June 07, 2014 4:12 PM
The paratroopers who were dropped behind enemy lines in France on D-Day were vital in disrupting a German counterattack on the landing beaches. Exactly 70 years on, teams of parachutists have re-created those jumps in the skies over Normandy. Henry Ridgwell went along in a special plane and reports for VOA.
VIDEO: Teams of parachutists re-create jumps behind enemy lines in skies over Normandy. Henry Ridgwell went along in a special plane and reports for VOA.
Henry Ridgwell
The paratroopers who were dropped behind enemy lines in France on D-Day were vital in disrupting a German counterattack on the landing beaches. Seventy years later, teams of parachutists are re-creating those jumps in the skies over Normandy. 

Members of the Round Canopy Parachuting Team boarded a historic plane Thursday at Cherbourg airport, ready to re-create a legendary mission.

 
The The "Drag 'Em Oot," a WWII-era Douglas DC-3 Dakota, which flew 2 sorties over Normandy on June 6, 1944, at the end of a day's flying, Normandy, June 5, 2014 (H. Ridgwell/VOA).
x
The
The "Drag 'Em Oot," a WWII-era Douglas DC-3 Dakota, which flew 2 sorties over Normandy on June 6, 1944, at the end of a day's flying, Normandy, June 5, 2014 (H. Ridgwell/VOA).
Riding a Douglas DC-3 Dakota, nicknamed "Drag ‘Em Oot" — a piece of D-Day history that flew two sorties on June 6, 1944 — the parachutists wear traditional round canopies that fall more rapidly than modern square designs.

According to Sergeant Ben van Buren, the flight's jump master who is making his 100th jump, the chutes are ideal for a war zone but require more skill to use. He says it is difficult to imagine the bravery of the men who set out 70 years ago to fall right into the middle of a firefight.

“It was just absolutely flak-ridden in the area, a completely hostile environment," he said. "And they volunteered every day.”

French parachutist Jerome Auvret calls it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience — not that that makes the jump any easier. Auvret says he is a little apprehensive.

“But that’s normal. It’s okay to be apprehensive before a jump,” he said, explaining that he's jumping to honor those who fought on D-Day.

“To honor and say thank you to the Americans who came here to defend Europe,” he said. “And who liberated us from Nazi Germany.”

Around 13,000 U.S. paratroopers dropped into the chaos of Normandy in the early hours of D-Day. Scattered across the drop zones, they ultimately proved vital to protecting the landing beaches from a concerted German counterattack.

For the parachutists re-enacting the massive drop, it was an exhilarating experience — a small taste of what it might have been like for the parachuting heroes of 70 years ago.

With most of the human cargo delivered safely to the ground, the Dakotas — once more flying in formation as they did by the hundreds that day — returned to Cherbourg airport.

Co-pilot Mark Edwards calls the DC-3 a legend.

“Where do you begin? It’s the classic airplane," he said. "It’s done everything. It’s been everywhere. It’s still doing it.”

Now 71 years old, "Drag ‘Em Oot" still bears the bullet holes from the enemy fire she took on missions following D-Day.

A D-Day veteran and a survivor of the skies.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs