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Return to Normandy 2024: Parachutes and parades

Veterans gathered in La Fière to watch parachute jumps from U.S. and UK military members based through Europe in recognition of the important battle, largely fought by paratroopers and glider men from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, to secure the bridge at La Fière. This battle, described as the bloodiest small unit struggle in U.S. military history, cost more than 250 American lives. Without control of the bridge and its vital causeway, American forces coming from Utah Beach would not have been able to force their way inland.

That evening, the Veterans attended one of their favorite parades in Sainte-Mère-Église, the first village to be liberated by American paratroopers. The annual military parade in front of more than 50,000 Normans included military units, marching bands, and cultural and civic groups who march down the same streets that were lined with American troops in 1944 – this time lined with generations of French family members excited to shake hands, offer their gratitude, and gather military cards from the WWII heroes.