Dispatch from Normandy: Remembering the Paratroopers of D-Day

June 5, 2019Marty Skovlund Jr.
Coffee or Die Photo

The formation of soldiers was formidable, each man staring forward with a fierce gaze. Their maroon berets were carefully positioned, signifying that this was not a regular unit; these were American paratroopers. They are the living legacy of the thousands of paratroopers who came before them and jumped into the fields and swamps of Normandy, France, 75 years ago this week.

The village of Picauville came together today at the USAF Monument in the center of town to remember those brave paratroopers, pilots, and air crews who flew over their town and dropped into their fields during the early hours of Operation Overlord. The ceremony had soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade in attendance, as well as a unit from the German army, local school children, a contingent of Native American veterans, and hundreds of spectators — many dressed in period uniforms from the 1940s.

Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die.

Only a single World War II veteran was present. With his generation of warfighters in their final years, Picauville will not have the honor of hosting them for much longer. 

Staff Sergeant Cameron Tripp, one of the active duty paratroopers in attendance, spoke to Coffee or Die about what it meant to take part in the ceremony. “This is like the holy land for paratroopers,” Tripp said. “Every single soldier who goes to airborne school definitely wants to jump here some day.”

Tripp is not alone in his reverence for the area. As I walked the village’s streets and drove the country roads, I couldn’t help but imagine what it was like for those brave men to descend into Normandy and fight their way through the region. Many never made it out, and I was now walking in those heroes’ footsteps. The gravity of what took place here not so long ago weighed heavy.

Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die.

The paratroopers standing in formation know all too well the toll war can take, but they can only imagine what it was like to make the combat jump that kicked off one of the largest invasions in the history of mankind.

The ceremony in Picauville ended with the paratroopers escorting the local school children up to the monument, one-by-one, so that the child could lay a flower down while the airborne soldier saluted. It was a touching display for all in attendance and showed that the memory of what our D-Day veterans did in this village will not be forgotten in the generation that will grow up without them present.

As many speakers during the ceremony noted, it is imperative to not let those memories die lest the sacrifices be forgotten and the mistakes that lead to a world war repeated. But if that ever happens, the American paratrooper will still be standing tall with fire in their eyes, ready to fall from the sky and deliver vengeance on those who wish to do evil.

Just as their forefathers did.

Photo by Marty Skovlund Jr./Coffee or Die.

This is the first in a series of dispatches while Coffee or Die is in Normandy, France, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Marty Skovlund Jr.
Marty Skovlund Jr.

Marty Skovlund Jr. was the executive editor of Coffee or Die. As a journalist, Marty has covered the Standing Rock protest in North Dakota, embedded with American special operation forces in Afghanistan, and broken stories about the first females to make it through infantry training and Ranger selection. He has also published two books, appeared as a co-host on History Channel’s JFK Declassified, and produced multiple award-winning independent films.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Coffee Or Die Photo
From the Team Room to Team Room Design: An Operator’s Creative Journey

BRCC partners with Team Room Design for an exclusive T-shirt release!

Coffee Or Die Photo
Get Your Viking On: The Exclusive 30 Sec Out BRCC Shirt Club Design

Thirty Seconds Out has partnered with BRCC for an exclusive shirt design invoking the God of Winter.

Grizzly Forge BRCC shirt
Limited Edition: Grizzly Forge Blades on an Awesome BRCC Shirt

Lucas O'Hara of Grizzly Forge has teamed up with BRCC for a badass, exclusive Shirt Club T-shirt design featuring his most popular knife and tiomahawk.

BRCC Limited Edition Josh Raulerson Blackbeard Skull Shirt
From Naval Service to Creative Canvas: BRCC Veteran Artist Josh Raulerson

Coffee or Die sits down with one of the graphic designers behind Black Rifle Coffee's signature look and vibe.

Medal of Honor is held up.
Biden Will Award Medal of Honor to Army Helicopter Pilot Who Rescued Soldiers in Vietnam Firefight

Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot who risked his life to save a reconnaissance team from almost certain death.

dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2024 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved