GROESBEEK, Netherlands – Jump by jump, 98-year-old D-Day veteran Tom Rice is nudging closer to his goal of leaping out of planes at age 100.
The American who caused a sensation in June by parachuting into Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings was at it again Thursday.
This time, his landing zone was in the Netherlands.
Rice, strapped to a younger parachutist who steered the canopy, jumped as part of commemorations for massive airborne landings September 1944.
He described their jump as “perfect” and said: “I’m going to do it until I’m 100.”
Rice jumped with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division on D-Day.
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Hundreds of other parachutists also sailed over the Netherlands on Thursday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, a 1944 land-and-airborne thrust through the country.
Allied strategists hoped the assault would clear a path toward Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland and hasten the end of the war. But ground troops got bogged down, leaving airborne soldiers who’d jumped ahead of the thrust outnumbered and outgunned.
The military bungle was immortalized in the Hollywood film and Cornelius Ryan’s book “A Bridge Too Far.”
More Allied troops – about 11,500 – died in the nine days of Operation Market Garden than in the D-Day landings.