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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs