WWII PARATROOPER TOM RICE TO JUMP FOR HIS 100TH BIRTHDAY! - AUGUST 15, 2021
On June 13, 1944, at the end of 4 days of bloody fighting, supported by the tanks of the 2nd Armored Division, the exhausted paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division definitively repelled the Nazi pretensions of the Fallschirmjaeger and SS in Carentan, Normandy, France.
Carentan broken, Carentan tormented but Carentan liberated could observe from June 15 a first awarding of medals on Republic Square still bearing the scars of the bombings. General Maxwell D Taylor, commander of the "Screaming Eagles," thanked and celebrated the very first feat of arms of his young division by awarding the Silver Star to the four commanders of the four regiments that made up the division; Colonel John Michaelis, CO of the 502nd Parachute Infantry, Colonel Howard R Johnson, CO of the 501st PIR, Robert F Sink, CO of the 506th PIR, and Joseph Harper, CO of the 327th/401st Glider Infantry Regiment. The image would become a world-famous symbol of the division's sacrifices to liberate Carentan.
These four colonels succumbed to various fates within the glorious 101st Airborne Division. John Michaelis was seriously wounded in the Netherlands in September 1944. Howard Johnson also died at the head of his beloved Geronimos in the Netherlands at the beginning of October 1944. Robert Sink, pioneer parachutist, and Bud Harper survived the conflict and then led their respective regiments to Berchtesgaden.
In honor of these great men and the soldiers they commanded, several hundred of whom fell in the liberation of the town, Carentan wishes to materialize and concretize the memory and remembrance of heroes that cannot be forgotten.
Until the end of July, death struck the inhabitants of Carentan indifferently and in all forms. A festive moment, the medal ceremony organized on June 23rd in Place de la République turned into a nightmare. Two German shells fell on the square, which was crowded with soldiers and civilians. The GIs gathered together, and flattened on the ground. Civilians did not see the hit coming. Five were killed, including little Danielle Laisney and Alain Leroux. 19 other civilians were wounded.
The statue of "The 4 Colonels of Carentan" is destined to become a marker, a reference point for the many visitors who come every year from all over the world to remember and honor the heroes of the liberation of Normandy, but also of France and Europe.
Normandy, and Villedieu les Poeles in La Manche have world-renowned goldsmiths in the art of casting. Cornille-Havard de Villedieu les Poêles are the creators and founders of impressive bronze creations, statues but also bells, including those of the prestigious Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral.
It is to these foundry artists that the task was entrusted to realize at scale 1, life-size, and with the greatest realism, the statue of this immortal scene showing General Taylor decorating his four colonels standing at attention Place de la République on June 15, 1944. The task is immense, and the mission sacred.
It requires a substantial outlay, an estimated 282,000 Euros, which the Carentan community would not be able to afford. This is why an appeal for donations and patronage is launched, via social networks, to raise the sum allowing the realization not of an umpteenth statue, but a realistic testimony, accessible and understandable to the greatest number, a perfect symbol of the commitment of the 101st Airborne for the freedom of Carentan, Normandy, France.