97-Year-Old Vet Tom Rice / BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
Today marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most import days in the history of the world. World War II included the vast majority of the world’s countries and lasted from 1939-1945. Over 100 million people from around the world were at war with each other and divided into two alliances, the Allies and the Axis. World War II was by far the deadliest conflict in the history of mankind with 50-85 million casualties.
On June 6, 1944 began the largest amphibious landing in history on 5 stretches of Normandy coastline. Just after midnight of June 6th roughly 24,000 paratroopers parachuted onto the beaches of Normandy, all the while taking on gunfire and avoiding obstacles, land mines, and artillery. By 7am that morning roughly an additional 130,000 Allied forces stormed the beaches via an amphibious assault going head on into heavy automatic gunfire and artillery. Over 4,000 Allied troops were lost that day. We thank them for their bravery and laying the foundation to win World War II.
In honor of all those who fought and died in the war, a few hundred parachuters reenacted the same jump over Normandy on Wednesday. One of those who participated in the jump was 97-year-old D-Day veteran Tom Rice.
Tom Rice was with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division during that incredible day. Tom, along with thousands of others, parachuted into Normandy with heavy gunfire and others getting killed all around him. He recalls it was one of the worst jumps he’s ever had. Despite getting caught on the aircraft jumping out and a bullet striking his chute he landed safely. Today for Tom is more than just a jump, it honors all his comrades that sacrificed everything for our freedom.
With many of his friends deceased or unable to handle the jump, Tom represents an entire generation. After training for 6 months Tom made the jump with an American flag waving proudly with thousands below cheering and applauding the aerial tribute.
Like many others who have gone to war, Tom has suffered a lifetime of memories blaming and shaming himself.
“It bothers us all the time for what we did. We did a lot of destruction, damage. And we chased the Germans out, and coming back here is a matter of closure. You can close the issue now,” Tom said.
Job well done! Thank you Tom, we appreciate your service and sacrifices. Thank you to all the men and women in uniform past, present, and future. We thank you as well and are thankful for our freedoms you sacrifice to protect.