FOR THERE IS NO GREATER LOVE THAN TO SERVE OTHERS IN
DEED AND DUTY
AIRBORNE! ALL THE WAY!!
At 22 years of age, Tom Rice left the peaceful town of Coronado, California to join what he calls “The Airborne Experiment.” After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Rice volunteered to join the elite airborne paratrooper school, despite being a new and untested combat branch of the American Army. Tom explains, "It was the adventure, high risk, mental and physical challenge plus the additional $50 a month bonus that convinced him to go beyond the call of duty."
During the early phase of the program, he trained with the U.S. Airborne Jump School pioneers at Camp Toccoa, Georgia (As seen in Band of Brothers). Tom faced many challenges in order to complete this highly selective program as his instructors were eager to disqualify those who could not endure their intense drills, which did not deter Tom. Through his determination and perseverance, he earned the coveted paratrooper wings at Fort Benning, Georgia. Tom found himself in one of the most elite and demanding regiments of that time, the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 101st Airborne Division, C Company, commanded by the legendary Colonel Howard “Jumpy” Johnson.
Rice parachuted in Carentan, Normandy, France on D-Day and with his fellow comrades they fought an intense battle for 37 days on the ground. Rice's regiment went on to launch Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands, Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belguim, Hitler 's Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany, and ended in Auxere, France, where the 501st PIR was de-activated.
75 years later, June 2019, at the age of 97, wearing the original WWII combat uniform and boots, Tom Rice parachuted once again from a C-47 over Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. This monumental jump was documented in the film LIBERTAS. When Tom was asked what it was like to jump 75 years later, he responded, “My hope is the next generations will always remember the men who came and fought for them, many sacrificing their lives to liberate the world. May we never forget them...Never"
To watch Tom's monumental jump and to hear his story, visit: www.SpeedandAngelsProductions.com
After the war, Tom resumed his studies and later became a teacher. He taught High School and Junior College Social Studies and History for over forty-four years.
Tom Rice's "The Lost Watch of D-Day"
D-Day - On June 6, 1944, Staff Sergeant Rice led 18 paratroopers out the door over Drop Zone D in Carentan, Normandy, France for "Operation Overlord." Upon exiting, Tom was injured even before he reached the ground. Due to the flak ridden skies, the aircraft's accelerated speeds, and low altitude, Tom was thrown and wedged in the corner of the door, fighting to break free. Once Rice finally broke free, he was scraped from his armpit to his wrist. It wasn’t until he landed that he realized he had lost his prized A-11 wristwatch. Tom had always hoped a good Frenchman would find it. Years later, he would tell that story and in gratitude, Tom would give a wristwatch from his own personal collection as a keepsake to his friends in Normandy.
It wasn't until 75 years later that a French watchmaker decided to recreate the A-11 prized wristwatch in Tom Rice's honor, calling it "The Lost Watch of D-Day." Today, you can wear this historical timepiece and continue to share Tom's legacy by telling his story. As a tribute to the 101st Airborne Division, Tom Rice's "The Lost Watch of D-Day" and the A-11 wristwatch collection will be sold to help support "The 4 Colonels of Carentan" Memorial in Carentan, Normandy, France.
To learn more and support "The 4 Colonels of Carentan" Memorial, visit: https://call-to-service.com/4-colonels-of-carentan
...To Support "The 4 Colonels of Carentan" Memorial - Normandy, France
Season 1 pre-production phase is complete. We are in the post-production phase and we'll be filming and interviewing more amazing veterans this Fall 2021.
In the meantime, Operation Call-To-Service is continuing to support upcoming projects and events that honor WWII veterans. One of our most recent projects involved "Toccoa Original," Jim "Peewee" Martin's 100th Birthday Jump Fest in Xenia, Ohio (Peewee's hometown). Parachutists from all around the world jumped from the Commemorative Air Force's "That's All Brother" and D-Day Doll, and Tunison Foundation's Placid Lassie, yelling Currahee! out the door in celebration.
Remaining "Screaming Eagle's" Tom Rice, Dan McBride, Bob Izumi, and Vincent J. Speranza attended in celebration. We hope you can join us at our next event, coming soon!