In June 1944, Tom Rice jumped out of an airplane over hostile, Nazi-occupied territory in Normandy, France, as boats filled with his fellow Americans and other allies made their way for the planned amphibious landing on the region’s beaches as part of Operation Neptune.
Now, 75 years later in June 2019, at the age of 97, Rice jumped out of a plane into Normandy again, but nobody was shooting at him this time and it wasn’t dark outside.
“It went perfect, perfect jump,” Rice said after his most recent jump, according to The Associated Press. “I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again.”
The landing zone for Wednesday’s jump was just outside Carentan, France, which was one of the objectives of the paratroopers dropped over the occupied country during Operation Neptune. The AP report said that Rice ended up jumping into “roughly the same area he landed in on D-Day.”
However, he also said that it was dark when he landed in 1944, so he can’t be exactly sure of where that was.
The 1944 mission with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division was “the worst jump I ever had,” Rice said. He landed safely despite some problems exiting the plane and a bullet going through his parachute.
“I got my left armpit caught in the lower left hand corner of the door so I swung out, came back and hit the side of the aircraft, swung out again and came back,” he told the Associated Press, “and I just tried to straighten my arm out and I got free.”
There’s even video available of Rice’s 75th anniversary jump, which he makes in tandem with another parachutist, a large American flag fluttering beneath the two of them.
ABC News reported that Rice trained for six months to prepare for the jump.