D-Day veterans fly in same C-47 used during invasion - KMSP-TV

D-Day veterans fly in same C-47 used during invasion

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CHERBOURG-MAUPERTUS, France (MyFoxBoston.com) -- D-Day veterans relived the historic day from 70 years ago in a very unique way this week.

A group of veterans got on the plane they once flew over Normandy to liberate the first French town from the Nazis. Their old C-47 was ready for another mission, letting pilots and paratroopers, now more than 90 years old, go back in time.

The men played down their bravery, flying over enemy territory at night, dropping down 800 feet into occupied France. This time, they flew in the sunshine so they could clearly see the town they liberated: Sainte Mere Eglise.

When one pilot mentioned to veteran U.S. paratrooper Les Cruise, Jr. that he was on the same plane 70 years ago, Cruise responded, "Yeah. That's right. Hard to imagine that. I'll tell you it's amazing. Amazing tales, you know. And I'm glad I got out of that plane before they shot it out of the sky."

"To fly over Sainte-Mere-Eglise in the daylight and look down and see where we dropped the paratroopers, you know. Unbelievable. And they let me sit in the cockpit up there and handle the controls. Just like old times," said Julian "Bud" Rice, a veteran C-47 pilot.

D-Day was just one of Bud Rice's risky missions. Later in the war, he was a pilot in an airdrop over Holland. During that mission, enemy fire destroyed one of his engines. He and all the men on the plane survived.

The group on the C-47 was just one of many reliving the historic invasion in a unique way. Another man, Jim "Pee Wee" Martin was part of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted over Utah Beach during the invasion. On Thursday, Martin, who is 93, made the jump again and told reporters he felt fine after landing in a French field.

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