A SALUTE TO TOM RICE
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings at Normandy that was the beginning of the end to World War II in Europe. The 75th anniversary will be commemorated in France, as well as at war memorials and cemeteries in the United States, England, and Canada. This year may be the last major anniversary that D-Day veterans will be alive to see but that didn’t stop U.S. World War II D-Day veteran Tom Rice, from Coronado, California.
Despite being 97 years old, Rice hopped in the extremely noisy fuselage of a C-47 and, while flying over the Normandy fields where he first saw action in 1944, took a giant leap. That’s right, the veteran and hero, who is almost a centenarian, parachuted in a tandem jump into roughly the same area he landed in on D-Day. Today was different for many reasons, one of them was the fact that it was light out. You see, when he took a leap into the unknown back in 1944 it was dark so he wasn’t exactly sure where he landed.
U.S. World War II D-Day veteran Tom Rice, from Coronado, Calif., after parachuting in a tandem jump into a field in Carentan, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. RAFAEL YAGHOBZADEH/ASSOCIATED PRESS
According to Stripes, “Rice jumped with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on that momentous day 75 years ago, landing safely despite catching himself on the exit and a bullet striking his parachute. He called the 1944 jump ‘the worst jump [he] ever had.'” Upon hitting the ground on this most recent jump, however, the ex-paratrooper yelled “Woo-Hoo!” – a resoundingly different expression. Rice told Stripes that he “represents a whole generation”, and that could not be truer. We salute Tom Rice and all of those – Americans, British, and Canadians – who risked their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the good of our country and the free world. As Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Cover Photo: U.S. World War II D-Day veteran Tom Rice, from Coronado, California, parachutes in a tandem jump into a field in Carentan, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. Approximately 200 parachutists participated in the jump over Normandy on Wednesday, replicating a jump made by U.S. soldiers on June 6, 1944 as a prelude to the seaborne invasions on D-Day.