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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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