Day veteran honours fallen comrades with parachute jump

Trump, May, World Leaders To Mark 75th Anniversary Of D-Day Invasion

US D-Day veteran Tom Rice gives the thumbs up after parachuting in a tandem jump into a field in Carentan, Normandy, France.

A 97-year-old USA veteran has parachuted into Normandy - 75 years after he made the same journey on D-Day.

The original 1944 leap, in which a bullet hit his chute, was "the worst jump I ever had", Rice said - while Wednesday's repeat "went ideal".

"I was 18 and I was hoping for some sort of great adventure, but yes, I knew something big was obviously happening", former pilot Gregory Hayward, 93, told AFP.

Rice jumped in a tandem into the roughly the same area he landed in on D-Day - he said it was dark when he touched down in 1944, and he can't be sure exactly where he was.

"The Normandy landings 75 years ago were a moment of historic global cooperation", May said.

Reflecting on his jump in 1944, Mr Hutton said: "I enjoyed the fall, I had done a lot of free falling". He landed safely despite some problems exiting the plane and a bullet going through his parachute.

Army Colonel Andrew Jackson, Deputy Commander of the Parachute Regiment's 16 Air Assault Brigade, parachuted in clutching the medals earned by a relative who fought in D-Day 75 years ago. He has been preparing for the last six months for his jump, working with a physical trainer.

He added: "Some of them couldn't handle it".

Parachutists jump from C-47 transport planes today in Carentan, Normandy, France. "You can close the issue now", he said. The largest landing operation in military history was crucial for the further course of the Second world war.

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Portsmouth was the main staging point for 156,000 US, British, Canadian and other Allied troops who sailed for northern France.

Moscow, which had been fighting German forces in the east for nearly three years by the time of D-Day, and gradually pushing them back from early 1943, had been urging Britain's Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May will be joined for the commemorative events in Portsmouth by veterans and by US President Donald Trump, who is on the final day of a state visit to Britain.

The event, which kicked off two days of D-Day anniversary observances, paid tribute to the troops who shaped history during the unsafe mission to reach beachheads and fight in German-occupied France.

By the time of the Normandy landings, Soviet forces had been fighting Germany in the east for nearly three years and Kremlin chief Josef Stalin had urged British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to open a second front as far back as August 1942.

Approximately 200 parachutists participated in the jump over Normandy on Wednesday, replicating a jump made by US soldiers on June 6, 1944 as a prelude to the seaborne invasions on D-Day.

The retired merchant seaman and shanty singer's newfound fame comes as the United Kingdom prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

German leader Angela Merkel called D-Day the operation that "finally brought Germany freedom from National Socialism".

Russian Federation was not involved in D-Day but was instrumental in defeating the Nazis on the Eastern Front.

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