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Special Forces vets honor D-Day with a Normandy parachute jump and a barrel of bourbon

"Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower gives the order of the Day. 'Full victory-nothing less' to paratroopers in England, just before they board their airplanes to participate in the first assault in the invasion of the continent of Europe." Eisenhower is meeting with US Co. E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike) of the 101st Airborne Division, photo taken at Greenham Common Airfield in England about 8:30 p.m. on June 5, 1944. (U.S. Army/Released)
June 05, 2019

June 6 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion into Normandy, France and 15 retired Special Forces soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Special Forces Group wanted to honor it airborne style.

The veterans are scheduled to conduct a reenactment jump from the same WWII-era plane, a C-47 “Tico Belle,” that originally delivered the D-Day airborne troops, but they’ll also airdrop a barrel of bourbon in honor of their sponsor at the veteran-owned American Freedom Distillery, Military.com reported.

The group chose June 5 for their reenactment since the original D-Day airborne operations began the night before the invasion.

Once the veterans arrive in France, they plan to parachute into the notable drop zones outside the Mont Saint-Michel abbey in Normandy, France. Every part of this reenactment mirrored the actual event, the uniforms, parachutes, weapons, and equipment.

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The 15 veterans were sponsored by the St. Petersburg, Florida-based distillery which is owned and operated by special forces veterans whose story was featured in the 2018 film “12 Strong.”

Scott Neil, co-founder of American Freedom Distillery and Green Beret veteran said, “Our brand is founded by a team of former special forces members, so it’s an incredible honor to be invited to this celebration as a brand, but also as veterans and represent our country and brethren of past, present. This is a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity for us and it’s incredible to not only be invited to participate in the 75th anniversary but to be the lead aircraft for the D-Day reenactment of airborne celebrations.”

One of the sponsors for the group, Retired Army Maj. Mark Nutsch, said it is exciting to be jumping from the historic aircraft.

“We really wanted to honor the resistance fighters, who many people don’t know about. We want the younger generation of warriors to understand what these men put on the line,” Nutsch said.

“We’re excited to the jump and really show our respect for the untold stories and sacrifices. We’re looking forward to the camaraderie with other veterans along with our families,” Nutsch added.

Another one of the sponsors, retired Chief Warrant Officer Bob Pennington who also is employed with the distillery, said when he found about the event, he “felt like a kid again.”

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“It may be the last time we have any WWII veterans. It’s an opportunity to honor the little-known WWII resistance special operator teams, if not for them D-Day wouldn’t have been a success,” Pennington said.

The C-47 plane is owned by the Valiant Air Command museum in Florida, but flew to France for the special anniversary.