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Thu, June 27

Prescott Valley man reflects on D-Day parachute jump behind enemy lines

Rasmussen wrote on the back of this photo: "Dear Mom, This was taken in Nice, France, April 22, '45. Your Son, Andy."

Rasmussen said the nighttime drop into France reminded him "of a beautiful Fourth of July celebration. There were shells exploding, beautiful color, flak all over the place, planes blowing up."

Rasmussen remembers "crawling into a hedgerow for safety" after he was injured in the drop. He was captured three days later after killing three German soldiers. The paratrooper spent 28 days as a prisoner of war in Cherbourg and American troops freed him when they reached the French city.

He found his way to the 101st Airborne headquarters and went back to England for more training.

He was "well enough to limp about."

But his wounds from the D-Day invasion prevented him from jumping again when the Allies went into Holland in September.

"Not wanting to stay in England with the regimental supply sergeant, who disliked me as much as I disliked him, I volunteered to go with a glider and was assigned to a CG-A4 as a co-pilot. On route to Holland from England we went through flak fields and many gliders and tow planes were lost in the sea and on land. On arriving at the landing zone my pilot turned the wrong way and wrecked the glider. We were not hurt."

Three months later, Rasmussen was in Bastogne, Belgium, in the middle of "The Battle of the Bulge."

"After 30 days of freezing temperatures, snow, mud and the threat of annihilation, the German advance to the sea was stopped dead in its tracks."

Rasmussen and the 101st continued on to fight in the Ruhr pocket and in Haganue, France, in early 1945.

"Then on to Berchtesgaden, Germany. The German general stationed there did not welcome the 101st Airborne. Being his last battle, what German general would? The battle was fought with the famed SS troops and was our last battle."

In spite of his part in the D-Day invasion and seeing men "with heads half gone, legs missing," the Prescott Valley man said he never had night-mares.

"We got home after the war and forgot the war. Forget it," he gestured impatiently. "That's what we did."

Contact the reporter at dgoss@prescottaz.com

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