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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More