FORT KNOX, Ky –
After descending thousands of feet over Normandy, France, in early June, members of the United States Army Parachute Team reminisced about the storied history of the nighttime jump made during the D-Day invasion 75 years ago.
“Face it, there is no way to enter the battlefield with more courage and boldness than as part of a mass-tactical parachute drop on a moonless night; striking terror in the hearts of the enemy,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jared Zell, one of 10 members of the Golden Knights demonstration team who went to Normandy for the massive Allied commemoration. “It gives me great honor to jump into the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, honoring those brave paratroopers that came before us and paved the way for our modern day American paratrooper.”
Nearly 25,000 Allied paratroopers dropped into France on June 6, 1944. To protect the invasion zone's West flank and support the landing force, the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne Divisions descended on the peninsula by parachute and glider in the early hours of D-Day.
To support this year’s observance of that day, a C-47 aircraft dropped the Golden Knights, along with the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, known as the Red Devils, and Daks, which is a non-profit group that organized the largest fleet of DC-3/C-47s since 1945 to commemorate the historic event.
The opportunity to jump with other military skydiving teams is common throughout the year for the Golden Knights; however, the opportunity to represent the Allied Forces of World War II in a commemorative jump in Normandy was a unique and humbling experience.
As thousands watched the observance in France, millions more tuned in to coverage on television or the internet.
“I am proud to be a part of this airborne history. These Soldiers paved the way to help maintain our freedom,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jesse Robbins, a member of the Golden Knights demonstration team. “To jump and walk on the same soil they did – it is a great honor. Paratroopers lead the way!”
Sgt. 1st Class Ryan O’Rourke echoed his team member’s comments.
"It is amazing to be a part of the legacy that we are upholding today,” O’Rourke said. “We are still continuing a part of military history that was extremely crucial 75 years ago during World War II."
Staff Sgt. Morgan George, another member of the elite Golden Knights said she believes the mission of the Paratrooper on D-Day is carried on by today’s Soldiers.
“As a paratrooper, I know I am part of a proud line of men and women in history that have endeavored to be a step above the rest,” George said. “Being here, 75 years after the first wartime airborne operation, with so many people passionate about paratroopers, shows that we are not only a historic asset, but a timeless one.”