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Six US war veterans defy age to recreate legendary parachute jump
Agence France-Presse | 6/07/04

Posted on 06/07/2004 10:50:15 AM PDT by kattracks

Defying age and the advice of local authorities, six US World War II veterans parachuted into this northern French village with youthful vigour to remember the invasion of Normandy 60 years ago.

Four of the octogenarians had parachuted into Sainte-Mere-Eglise as part of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, making it one of the first villages to be captured by the invading Allied troops in a daring and famous assault behind the enemy lines of Nazi-occupied France.

Sixty years on, on a glorious summer afternoon, the six parachutes unfurled against the clear sky at around 4:00 pm local time (1400 GMT) and all the veterans landed safely to the rousing applause of the hundreds of spectators.

"I feel tremendous. Toujours (always) terrific," Tom Morrison, a veteran of the parachute raid, told the crowd after landing his chute just metres away from the centre of the target.

"It's a pleasure to jump for you and represent all the airborne forces and all the forces who did not get back," added the robust veteran, before yelling at journalists to stop treading on his parachute.

"Jumping today was a little different to back then -- now we have a modern parachute -- and they are just a whole lot easier to fly," he added, expressing regret he had just missed the target.

Morrison's colleagues, decked out in full military uniform, all landed well in nearby fields, managing to easily avoid the threat of a nearby river that had caused local officials some concern.

The drop into Sainte-Mere-Eglise by thousands of US paratroopers at the start of D-Day has become part of World War II folklore and made famous by the film 'The Longest Day'.

Some 40 veterans made a similar commemorative jump here 10 years ago for the 50th anniversary events. Then, their average age was 75.5 years and now it is 85.5 years, so the jump on Monday may be the last.

But obtaining permission for the event had proved a tricky task for the veterans association who organised it, with the local authorities unwilling to allow the former troops to test their skills and bodies over their region.

However last minute intervention from French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, in the form of a fax sent to the local authorities, allowed the jump to go ahead even though officials were somewhat nervous on the day.

"Whenever I was asked about this jump I always gave the same answer," said the mayor of the village, Marc Lefevre, before the event, looking a worried man.

Three doctors and an ambulance were on hand during the jump in case of any mishaps and all those involved had presented medical cerificates saying that they were in good health.

Richard Falvey, 83, a veteran of the D-Day invasion, was originally planning to make the jump but was forced to pull out after dislocating his shoulder in his qualification jump in California.

"This was something that I so passionately wanted to do and I'm so disappointed not to be taking part," he said in a packed English-run cafe while holding court with young admirers.

"But all is not lost. I've met all these wonderful people, French and from all nationalities. It has given me a renewed faith in the people of today," added Falvey.

The onlookers who stayed on here a day after the main D-Day commemorations had come to an end were adamant that the men were right to make the jump. "It sure beats being in a rest home," observed Deborah DeComo of the United States.

Troy, a young American helping in the veterans' landing group agreed. "I think it's just great: they obviously have a passion and it's great that they can continue it. I think they should be allowed to jump whenever and whereever they want."



TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: dday; greatestgeneration; mostawesomedudes; parachute; veterans

1 posted on 06/07/2004 10:50:16 AM PDT by kattracks
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To: kattracks

Hehe those guys were high.


2 posted on 06/07/2004 10:51:32 AM PDT by Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh
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To: kattracks

U.S. WWII Paratrooper veterans pose after their briefing just before making a parachute jump over Sainte Mere L'Eglise in Normandy, June 7, 2004. Six U.S. Paratrooper veterans jumped on Monday: Tom Morrison (80 years-old from Ambler, Pennsylvania), Bill Coleman (80 years old from Orlando, Florida), Carl Beck (78 years-old from Atlanta, Georgia), Richard Case (83 years-old from Las Vegas, Nevada), Bill Priest (80 years-old, from St Petersburg, Florida) and Howard Greenberg (79 years-old from Cleveland, Ohio). Pictured clockwise from top right: Coleman, Case, Beck, Richard Falvey (who did not jump), Morrison, Richard Mandich (who did not jump) and Priest. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

3 posted on 06/07/2004 11:07:31 AM PDT by martin_fierro ("Meine liebe Pluskat....")
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To: kattracks

Bill Coleman, an 80 year-old WWII paratrooper veteran from Orlando, Florida gathers his parachute after landing in a field after a jump over Sainte Mere Eglise in Normandy, June 7, 2004. Six U.S. paratrooper veterans jumped on Monday: Tom Morrison (80 years-old from Ambler, Pennsylvania), Bill Coleman, Carl Beck (78 years-old from Atlanta, Georgia), Richard Case (83 years-old from Las Vegas, Nevada), Bill Priest (80 years-old, from St Petersburg, Florida) and Howard Greenberg (79 years-old from Cleveland, Ohio). REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

4 posted on 06/07/2004 11:09:23 AM PDT by martin_fierro ("Meine liebe Pluskat....")
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U.S. WWII Paratrooper veterans Bill Coleman (R) (80 years old from Orlando, Florida) and Howard Greenberg (79-years-old from Cleveland, Ohio), give the thumbs-up after a jump over Sainte Mere Eglise in Normandy, June 7, 2004. Six U.S. paratrooper veterans jumped on Monday: Tom Morrison (80-years-old from Ambler, Pennsylvania), Coleman, Carl Beck (78 years-old from Atlanta, Georgia), Richard Case (83 years-old from Las Vegas, Nevada), Bill Priest (80 years-old, from St Petersburg, Florida) and Greenberg. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

5 posted on 06/07/2004 11:10:13 AM PDT by martin_fierro ("Meine liebe Pluskat....")
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To: kattracks
Some 40 veterans made a similar commemorative jump here 10 years ago for the 50th anniversary events. Then, their average age was 75.5 years and now it is 85.5 years, so the jump on Monday may be the last.

Why so pessimistic?? If they're around in 10 years, let 'em jump.

6 posted on 06/07/2004 11:10:15 AM PDT by tdadams (If there were no problems, politicians would have to invent them... wait, they already do.)
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U.S. WWII Paratrooper veterans Bill Coleman (R - 80 years old from Orlando, Florida) and Howard Greenberg (79 years-old from Cleveland, Ohio), wave after landing in a field after a jump over Sainte Mere Eglise in Normandy, June 7, 2004. Six U.S. paratrooper veterans jumped on Monday: Tom Morrison (80 years-old from Ambler, Pennsylvania), Coleman, Carl Beck (78 years-old from Atlanta, Georgia), Richard Case (83 years-old from Las Vegas, Nevada), Bill Priest (80 years-old, from St Petersburg, Florida) and Greenberg. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Tom Morrison, an 80 year-old U.S. WWII Paratrooper veteran from Ambler, Pennsylvania, jumps over Sainte Mere Eglise in Normandy, June 7, 2004. Six paratrooper veterans jumped on Monday: Tom Morrison, Bill Coleman (80 years-old from Orlando, Florida), Carl Beck (78 years-old from Atlanta, Georgia), Richard Case (83 years-old from Las Vegas, Nevada), Bill Priest (80 years-old, from St. Petersburg, Florida) and Howard Greenberg (79 years-old from Cleveland, Ohio). REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

7 posted on 06/07/2004 11:12:23 AM PDT by martin_fierro ("Meine liebe Pluskat....")
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To: martin_fierro
It's a pleasure to jump for you and represent all the airborne forces and all the forces who did not get back," added the robust veteran, before yelling at journalists to stop treading on his parachute.

Awesome.......God Bless em for what they did yesterday and today......

8 posted on 06/07/2004 11:14:26 AM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But, have a plan to kill everyone you meet.)
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To: kattracks

WOW! These guys are great! What an experience for them to jump again after all these years. I'm so glad that they were able to do it.


9 posted on 06/07/2004 11:15:35 AM PDT by .38sw
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To: kattracks

10 posted on 06/07/2004 11:18:06 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack ("We deal in hard calibers and hot lead." - Roland Deschaines)
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To: martin_fierro
You know...... those guys are absolutly wonderful.

How could we NOT win with men that have the balls to jump at 80 years of age? Could you imagine them 60 years ago full of piss and vinegar. As Patton said," I actually pity those poor German bastards..."

Man, what did their mommas use to feed these boys when they were babies... "Jack Daniels and oats"? I am a just in awe!!!! Do we have a great country or what? Thank you for protecting us and liberating the world. (shaking his head in amazement)

11 posted on 06/07/2004 11:20:34 AM PDT by Dick Vomer (liberals suck......... but it depends on what your definition of the word "suck" is.)
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To: kattracks

Way back in the 1950's I was fortunate enough to serve with some of the WWII Combat Veterans at Fort Campbell Kentucky I viewed them with Awe. They were my Hero's then.

They are still my Hero's today.
Geronimo.


12 posted on 06/07/2004 11:27:29 AM PDT by Pompah (The price of greatness is responsibility)
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To: Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh

The French immediately surrendered.


13 posted on 06/07/2004 11:30:38 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn't be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: Joe 6-pack
"It's a pleasure to jump for you and represent all the airborne forces and all the forces who did not get back," added the robust veteran, before yelling at journalists to stop treading on his parachute.

Visions of his PLT SGT telling him to drop and do 50 must have danced around in his head.

Surprised he didn't tell the reporters to drop and give him 50.

Now that would have been a scream to have on TV News!

14 posted on 06/07/2004 11:50:49 AM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
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To: kattracks

GREAT story! What a fantastic group of heroes.


15 posted on 06/07/2004 12:57:23 PM PDT by shezza
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To: martin_fierro; Euro-American Scum
Thanks for posting these pictures. I know Euro-American Scum will appreciate seeing them.

Although he's a Viet Nam Vet, he parachuted with these guys yesterday. I'm sure he's going to have wonderful stories to tell us. Hopefully he'll have some great pictures for us too.

16 posted on 06/07/2004 12:58:22 PM PDT by NRA2BFree (I am a nobody, and nobody is perfect; therefore, I am perfect.)
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To: Bronco_Buster_FweetHyagh

Give these Old Sk00l Ass Kickers some weapons and drop them in Iraq.


17 posted on 06/07/2004 1:00:48 PM PDT by Psycho_Bunny
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To: kattracks
About 1949 I had a college classmate who was an airborne vet, I forget which division. He impressed on me the aggressive attitude they had gotten from their training, and I believe he had made a couple of combat jumps. I realized he was "older", being just a kid myself, but I didn't know until I read his obit years later, that he had been 38 years old in 1944.

I highly recommend that all who have not done so, read "Band of Brothers" to gain a full appreciation of these men.

18 posted on 06/07/2004 4:02:30 PM PDT by 19th LA Inf
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To: F14 Pilot

Jump, Pong


19 posted on 06/07/2004 4:55:21 PM PDT by nuconvert ("America will never be intimidated by thugs and assassins." ( Azadi baraye Iran)
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To: All

We have men like this today, they are doing what needs to be done, just as these great americans did.
God bless them.

Currahee
and Semper Fi!

Tet68


20 posted on 06/07/2004 6:14:03 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: kattracks
I saw a replay of the Internation D-Day celebration event yesterday on CSPAN.

What was really touching was that, during the military parade when the veterans of D-Day came marching in, they started off walking like frail old men but by the time they made it to the reviewing stand, they seemed to have dug down deep, drew on an inner reserve of strength, and picked up a cadence and marched in unison.

-PJ

21 posted on 06/07/2004 6:18:14 PM PDT by Political Junkie Too (It's not safe yet to vote Democrat.)
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To: All

My Dad was in the 101st AB 501st PIRA with Carl Beck. Dad was in C co & Carl in H. So, Carl is a very good friend (he's an email junkie, like me) and an incredible person. All of these guys are just the best. The 501st gets together every summer - it's like a big family reunion for us. I was bummed that Carl wouldn't make it to Grand Rapids, MI for our reunion this year so imagine my delight in seeing this article & pics! Can't wait to hear about it in person at reunion next summer!!!


22 posted on 06/21/2004 8:53:38 AM PDT by 501C Jansen Brat (They was bad bastards...)
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