Jumpers ready for D-Day parachute jump on 70th anniversary commemoration

Paratroopers drop over the skies of Holland during D-Day landings June 6, 1944. Photo Source: National Archives
Paratroopers drop over the skies of Holland during D-Day landings June 6, 1944. Photo Source: National Archives

June 2014 will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day landings, the start of the end of the Nazi occupation over Europe. It will be the most memorable commemoration and possibly the last that many of the veterans will be alive to see.

And Jean-Pierre Paviot, 47, wants to ensure that the 70th anniversary of the D-Day will be spectacular. A resident of Boca Raton, Pivot wants to fill the skies with hundreds of paratroopers jumping from an airplane and into the beaches of Normandy, just like seventy years ago on June 6, 1944.

He wishes to get 250 individuals to join him in forming a Round Canopy Parachuting Team during the mark of the 70th Anniversary of Allied invasion in Normandy. This time, the paratroopers are not armed with rifles and grenades poised to liberate French territories from German rule. Everything is a reenactment.

In the dream to recreate the D-Day landings, 10 Douglas C-47s were employed to take the paratroopers to the sky and drop them. Atleast 300 jumpers will be expected to make the aerial stunt from many vintage C-47s. Also, pledges for the accommodation and landing fees of the actors have already been gathered from various sources.

Attending the event this June are veterans who took part in the first jump during the actual D-Day landings behind enemy lines. These include members of the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne.

Paviot dedicates the jump to the remembrance of the courage, sacrifices and sense of duty of the American allies numbering around 13,000 who made the jump on that day. The same transport planes as well as equipment will be used by the paratroopers to recreate the same scene when thousands of young men looked down and landed to Nazi-occupied France.

Paviot, who is married with two daughters, will be wearing a uniform which was used by  World War II American paratrooper. He had the uniform autographed by Jack Womer, a hero paratrooper belonging to the 101st Airborne Division who died in January.

Womer, who died at 96, was said to be one of the last surviving members of the “Filthy 13”. They were the Demolition Section with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. They were called “filthy” because they were usually inclined to skip baths and ignore orders of authority. Yet, more than that, they were prepared for suicide missions because of their callous skills.

Paviot said he feels that the the United States may not appreciate the gallantry of the men such as Womer as much as France being a home to the graves of many Americans who now fill the serene landscape. He said this may be the reason why Americans do not commemorate the D-Day. He feels that the Americans have forgotten what happened in Normandy.

Two teams will join the aerial demonstration headed by Paviot. These are the Liberty Jump Team which is based in Texas and the World War II Air Demonstration Team which is based in Oklahoma. The teams will also take some of the WWII veterans for a return to France and for a last victory jump.

Raymond Steeley, 59, commander of the World War II Air Demonstration Team believes that the veterans over in Europe will make the event more significant calling them “rock stars”. He added that people will be grateful of what they did during the Second World War.

Another jumper who volunteered to to join the event this June is Allison Porcella. She is the grandchild of an American WWII paratrooper and the first American female jumper. She previously joined the D-Day commemorative jump in 2010 just before the death of her grandfather at the age of 86.

Her grandfather is Thomas Porcella of Melbourne. He was with the 82nd Airborne. A street in Normandy was named after him for his service in France.

Allison Porcella, who works as a translator in Switzerland, related her amazement of the gratitude and warmth of the Europeans on the American soldiers during their return to the continent. She also expressed her admiration of the war memorials built in honor of the soldiers. She said she is doing her best to participate in any way to make history alive.

The Sun Sentinel reports that the commemorative D-Day jump this year will be a big event. An effort called “Daks over Normandy” is still underway to pay for the gas for the vintage planes that will drop the paratroopers and for the expenses of the veterans who will return to Europe during the event. Paviot said that the funds have reached 65% of the projected expenses.

Paviot said that all of the members of the jump teams are doing their best to see that the event is a success saying they will never forget what the soldiers did for liberty.


Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE