Special Forces parachute over Normandy in test run for upcoming D-Day ceremony
Stars and Stripes
About 135 Special Forces soldiers jumped from three Air Force aircraft above the ancient Mont Saint-Michel abbey in Normandy, as part of the commemoration for the upcoming 75th anniversary of D-Day.
The 352nd Special Operations Wing and the 86th Airlift Wing delivered the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) soldiers on Saturday to the drop zone, which was a little over a mile from Mont Saint-Michel.
The event was sponsored by the nearby town of Avranches, which was liberated by U.S. forces in 1944. The soldiers greeted the crowds and then headed to Avranches for a wreath-laying at the Gen. George S. Patton Jr. Memorial and a ceremonial toast with the town mayor.
The event Saturday recalled the original “Jedburgh” three-man teams that jumped behind enemy lines to train, arm and direct local resistance fighters. The teams included about 300 total Allied troops from the U.S., Britain, Free France, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa.
The 10th Special Forces Group draws their lineage from the Jedburghs, a senior enlisted soldier assigned to the group said, according to an Army statement.
“We’re celebrating their combined effort to liberate Western Europe with local forces,” the soldier said. “The airborne operation celebrates the long relationship between America and France and 10th SFG’s commitment to continuing the tradition of training and working with our allies in Europe.”
The 10th Special Forces Group was established in 1952 and immediately afterward deployed to Europe during the Cold War, the statement said.
Mont Saint-Michel is a fortified abbey that, due to the tides, periodically turns into an island. It has been the home to monks since the 8th century.
The 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 is expected to draw large crowds to Normandy and will include several events remembering the invasion that led to the defeat of Germany and the end of World War II.
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