Among them was U.S. veteran Tom Rice, 97, one of the first Allied soldiers to land behind German lines in 1944, near the town of Carentan. It was, as Rice recalled to the Associated Press, “the worst jump I ever had.” A bullet struck his parachute.
This time, however, his tandem jump near the same town went more smoothly.
“Perfect jump,” he told the AP. “I’d go up and do it all again.”
His enthusiasm was echoed by other veterans who also commemorated the occasion with what they said might be their last jump.
“I don’t think I’ll do another jump again,” 95-year-old British veteran Harry Read was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard. Before they could take off in Cambridgeshire, Read and another British veteran, 94-year-old John Hutton, said they had to win another fight — this time with delays and technical problems.
When they finally embarked on their trip, Hutton and Read headed toward France — but soon faced new concerns Wednesday.
“We were looking out of the window. All the mist was coming in. All this bloody way and we’re not going to get out of the aircraft,” Hutton said.
Minutes later, both safely landed from tandem jumps on French soil.
Their verdict? A “wonderful” jump, said Read.
Fellow veteran Hutton agreed, but noted a hard landing, and joked to reporters that “he should have more sense at 94.”