Congressional Veterans, to Mark D-Day Anniversary, Will Jump Out of Perfectly Good Airplane


To mark the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, specifically the men of the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions who jumped into France in advance of the troops hitting the beaches, a group of veterans in Congress will duplicate their parachute jump. On Friday, these veterans, wearing replicas of the 1944 paratrooper’s uniforms, will jump from a vintage C-47 aircraft onto the same drop zones used in 1944.


“From a military standpoint, the longer you’re sitting up there floating under a parachute, the more vulnerable you are to get shot. So you want to be as low to the ground as possible so that you float to the ground as fast as possible,” said Waltz, a retired Green Beret who, along with several of his House colleagues, will jump from a plane over France on Friday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“You don’t land softly, like when you see a skydiver just kind of tiptoe right onto the ground. You hit pretty hard,” Waltz said. 

In the days surrounding the June 6 anniversary, reenactors, veterans and active-duty military members will re-stage the historic aerial invasion of Normandy, which launched the offensive that would wrest back control from the Nazis and change the course of the war.

The jump is being done in part to commemorate not only the events of that day but also the few remaining veterans of Operation Overlord who are still with us. Some of them are in France to observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Later this week, a large congressional delegation will fly to France for a multiday commemoration. They will visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, where many of the roughly 2,500 Americans who died during the D-Day assault are buried. They will also pay tribute to the remaining living veterans who served in World War II.

“This is the 80th anniversary. That means the youngest World War II veteran that we know of that will be there is 96. The oldest is 107. Several have died just since they signed up with American Airlines to go. So it’s important to honor them to keep their legacy alive,” Waltz said. 

More than a dozen senators will travel to France, and Speaker Mike Johnson canceled House votes on Thursday to allow members of his chamber to make the trip across the Atlantic as well. But only a select few will make the leap over Mont Saint-Michel on Friday. According to Waltz’s office, the group includes Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, a retired Army Ranger, and Republican Reps. Mark Green, Dan Crenshaw, Rich McCormick, Derrick Van Orden, Keith Self, Darrell Issa, Ronny Jackson and Cory Mills.


It’s an interesting way to commemorate the day, to be sure, even if it involves jumping out of an airplane that is going to land.

See Related: US Asks British Archaeologists to Help Recover Missing WWII Pilot 

WATCH: Airport in Paris Gives US Vets a Tear-Jerking Hero’s Welcome Ahead of 80th Anniversary of D-Day

Of course, the Congressmen won’t be going in at night, or under withering fire from German anti-aircraft guns. They won’t be jumping with weapons, ready to do battle with the enemy that will be on all sides. They won’t be hit with mortar fire, or by snipers, and their transport aircraft won’t be taking hits and crashing.

That’s probably for the best; and it is a testament to what the original paratroopers did, 80 years ago, that these Congressmen can make this jump on Friday, safely and in peace.

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