MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A crew from the 908th Airlift Wing based at Maxwell Air Force Base participated in the D-Day 75th Anniversary commemoration in Normandy Thursday.
“This is the first time that we’ve painted our airplanes with the invasion stripes to mimic the C-47 that flew in the invasion on the fifth of June dropping the airborne forces behind enemy lines the evening before the D-Day invasion,” said 908th Operation Group Commander Col. Donald Richey.
Every five years the 908th Airlift Wing participates in D-Day anniversary events.
“We will do an inter-fly with the other airplanes to do a commemoration drop at the end of the festivities. Usually that is with foreign jumpers as well as U.S. paratroopers. The crews also get to participate in some of the Normandy flyovers they have for the memorial events," said Richey. “They also get to attend some of those events as VIPs to interact with some of the veterans that are still around.”
Twelve people traveled to Normandy with the 908th, including a modified air crew and two crew chiefs. They took one aircraft. They left Montgomery and flew to Fort Bragg, NC. They picked up about 30 Army paratroopers to reenact the jump.
Col. Richey had the opportunity to attend five years ago.
“They love us over there. The thing that stands out the most in my mind, from when I participated five years ago, was how they all get dressed up like reenactors. They have tanks, deuce-and-a-half’s, and jeeps. That is their way of honoring all of the Allied Forces that were there. A lot of them are dressed up like U.S. servicemen were dressed back then,” said Richey.
With this being historic for the U.S and Europe, Richey points out that during the D-Day commemoration you can feel the gratefulness so many have for those who served and sacrificed their lives on June 6, 1944.
“To look out at the drop zone and see the thousands and thousands of civilians on the ground waving flags, cheering on the paratroopers and participating with us, it was heartwarming," said Richey.
Col. Richey says participating in this event is a great opportunity from a military perspective to get experience flying with Active Duty, the Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve in a multiple formation situation. It’s great training for them, as well.