D-Day veteran, 97, parachutes into Normandy again – 75 years later

Ryan W. Miller

Tom Rice just wanted to go back for more.

Seventy-five years after he and his fellow service members leaped from the sky to land in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, the Army veteran returned to Normandy for another jump.

"Woo-hoo!" the former paratrooper, now 97, yelled after he landed on Wednesday. Rice's jump alongside many others outside Carentan marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

"It went perfect, perfect jump," Rice said Wednesday. "I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again."

Rice, of San Diego, was serving in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division 75 years ago when he was part of the paratrooper operation during D-Day, which aimed to disrupt German forces and aid the amphibious invasion on Normandy's beaches.

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Rice, who landed in the light of day in 2019 and without gear and weapons, jumped in the cover of darkness in 1944. He called the original "the worst jump I ever had."

"I got my left armpit caught in the lower left-hand corner of the door so I swung out, came back and hit the side of the aircraft, swung out again and came back, and I just tried to straighten my arm out and I got free,” he told The Associated Press.

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The anniversary jump went much smoother, landing to applause and alongside other veterans from various wars who recreated the jump to honor D-Day vets and the operation.

"They would love it," Rice said of what his D-Day comrades may have thought of the recreation.

"I represent a whole generation," he added.

Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: D-Day veteran, 97, parachutes into Normandy again – 75 years later