D-day at 75: veteran, 94, to parachute into Normandy
Seventy-five years after Harry Read parachuted into Normandy as a 20-year-old wireless operator, with a battery the size and weight of a toolbox strapped to his right leg, he will board a Dakota aircraft and do it again.
This time there will be no cumbersome battery, which on D-day failed to release on time and so pulled him sharply down into a swamp, an area deliberately flooded by the Germans which would claim the lives of almost 200 of his comrades before they could fire a single bullet.
“And when I board the Dakota, I will go and sit in seat 12. Because that was where I sat on that day,” said Harry, who will perform a tandem jump with the Red Devils Parachute Display Team as part of the 75th anniversary of D-day commemorations.
“It is a stupid thing to do at my age,” said Read, who is 95 on 17 May. “Elderly men don’t do parachute jumps”. But he is looking forward to it. “There is a delight in jumping,” he added, after having had a practice jump in September, his first since D-day. “But I resonate more with the sacrifice than I do with the celebration. The sacrifice enabled the celebration to take place, of course. And I will think of my mates who died”.
John Keegan, a renowned British military historian, has called World War II the greatest single event in the history of mankind. - Tom Brokaw, NBC special correspondent and author of "The Greatest Generation"