True-grit US D-Day vets defy agewith new jump over Normandy

7th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

SAINTE-MERE-EGLISE, France, June 7 (AFP) - Defying age and the advice of local authorities, six US World War II veterans parachuted on Monday into this northern French village with youthful vigour to remember the invasion of Normandy 60 years ago.

SAINTE-MERE-EGLISE, France, June 7 (AFP) - Defying age and the advice of local authorities, six US World War II veterans parachuted on Monday into this northern French village with youthful vigour to remember the invasion of Normandy 60 years ago.

Four of the octogenarian veterans had parachuted into Sainte-Mere-Eglise as part of the D-Day invasion and made it one of the first villages to be captured by the invading Allied troops in a daring and famous assault.

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

"I feel tremendous. Toujours teriffic," 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," he added, before yelling at journalists to stop treading on his parachute.

But obtaining permission for the jump had proved a tricky task for the veterans association who organised it, with the local authorities unwilling to allow the veterans 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 jumpy 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.

All those who took part in Monday's jump had presented medical certificates stating they were in good health. And as a precautionary measure, an orthopaedic surgeon was on standby on the ground as well as ambulances and firemen.

 

© AFP

Subject: French news

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