75 years later: Local vet remembers serving as D-Day paratrooper

SAN DIEGO -- A local World War II veteran is marking 75 years since the D-Day invasion Thursday, sharing his memories with FOX 5's Chris Murphy.

Tom Rice, 97, was a U.S. paratrooper on D-Day. He marked the 75-year occasion Tuesday with a tandem parachute jump not far from the beaches of Normandy. Rice does the jump each year, part of his ritual to honor the lives lost that day.

D-Day -- the military term for the first day of the Normandy landings -- was the largest amphibious invasion ever undertaken and laid the foundations for the Allied defeat of Germany in World War II.

The invasion took place on June 6, 1944, and saw of tens of thousands of troops from the United States, the UK, France and Canada landing on five stretches of the Normandy coastline -- codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches.

Trump at D-Day commemoration

Weaving a harrowing narrative of the mission to storm the Normandy shore in an attempt to retake Europe from the Nazis, President Donald Trump on Thursday hailed D-Day veterans as "among the very greatest Americans who will ever live."

In a speech laced with individual stories of extraordinary heroism and loss, framed by the aging faces of those who experienced it, Trump memorialized an event that changed the course of the war.

Embracing frail veterans making what could be their final journey to the windswept bluffs where they made history, the President appeared genuinely moved by the weight of what had happened there.

And he buttressed an alliance system that emerged from the violence, despite having in the past questioned some of the institutions forged from the bloodshed.

"You are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts," Trump said in remarks at the Normandy American Cemetery in northern France.

"These men enlisted their lives in a great crusade, one of the greatest of all times," he said. "Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious eternal struggle between good and evil."

Speaking after his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, Trump said the country's debt to the veterans who participated in the landings was "everlasting."

"Today we express our undying gratitude," Trump said.

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