WWII Veteran Celebrates 100th Birthday By Skydiving To Recreate D-Day Jump

by Shelby Scott

Elderly people frequently find some pretty dynamic ways to celebrate their 100th birthdays. Most recently, WWII veteran Tom Rice recreated a D-Day jump in celebration of his.

The retired paratrooper made the jump from a vintage WWII airplane with the nickname D-Day Doll plastered on the side. A war-era pinup girl stands alongside the brightly painted letters, capturing the era of the plane itself.

Rice made the jump with Skydive Palatka’s Art Shaffer, whom he previously tandem skydived with in 2019. Rice made the earlier jump in celebration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, flying over Normandy, France. This time, Rice chose to make the jump from above his hometown in San Diego, California. His venture ended as he landed in front of the city’s Coronado Hotel. According to News4JAX, Rice made the decision to enlist in the military in his hometown following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Once Rice and his partner landed, a group of military friends, Palatka representatives, and family surrounded the 100-year-old man, congratulating him on the amazing jump and sharing birthday wishes.

The jump was even more special for Rice than most, however. Rice served as a platoon sergeant commanding 12 other paratroopers during WWII. He was a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment on the 101st Airborne Division.

While Rice has jumped with Palatka before, the news outlet further said the company provides access to tandem skydives for WWII veterans across the country.

War Veterans Are Taken With the Adventure Inherent in Skydiving

While Rice’s feat is impressive at 100 years old, an earlier June celebration saw another war veteran fulfill a lifelong skydiving dream.

Korean war veteran Joseph Dale Jaramillo celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping in tandem with a professional skydiver. Jaramillo thoroughly enjoyed the jump, even saying he would do it again in celebration of his future 95th birthday. However, his situation differs greatly from Rice’s as he was unable to join the airborne division of the military during his service. Therefore, his birthday jump marked his first time freefalling from a plane.

“I signed up for the 101st Airborne and only weighed 128 pounds,” the Korean war vet shared. Requirements for the division stated he be at least 140 pounds. Nevertheless, Jaramillo went on to serve during the war and found himself wounded in combat. The army veteran additionally assisted another injured soldier in battle, which later earned him a Purple Heart.

Following the jump, Jaramillo was flushed from the wind and excited from the experience. “Oh my gosh,” he said. “I want to do it all over again.