SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Wayne Cline of Rowan County returned home on Wednesday after seeing his son, First Lt. David Cline, participate in a jump to commemorate D-Day.
"It's just a grand event, grand time, an adventure…not just a trip," Wayne Cline said. "All I had to do was just pack and show up."
"I jumped with my grandfather's dog tags, he was a truck driver, in France in '45; my dad's dog tags, he served in the 70's, and of course my dog tags,' said U.S. Army Reserve Soldier 1Lt. David Cline, Aide-de-Camp to Brig. Gen. Richard Sele, of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). headquartered at Fort Bragg.
"My grandfather has some Nazi German mementos he picked up when he was here, and my other grandfather's shell casing from his 21 gun salute. My family now has 70 plus years of military service and history," Cline said.
Cline completed his 7th jump on LaFiere Drop Zone, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, on Sunday, as part of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) Task Force Normandy 74. The Task Force is participating in commemorative events in the area through June 7th, in order to honor and remember the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation who fought in WWII.
The airborne operation on Sunday was a multinational event, comprised of 575 paratroopers from five countries, U.S.A, France, Germany, Romania and The Netherlands. Paratroopers exited either from a U.S. C-130, Dutch C-130, German C-160, or French CASA, with security provided by two A-10 Warthogs.
For his successful completion of the jump, Cline received a set of Romanian jump wings, and exchanged his American jump wings with his Romanian counterpart.
Seeing the beaches where the invasion force landed was particularly moving, according to Wayne.
"It was an emotional visit for me, particularly Omaha. You go out, walk out to the water's edge which is approximately 300 yards from the beach wall and you face the beach and you see the terrain features they had to overcome, plus the German defenses."
Cline noted how 74 years later, the locals still have a great appreciation for what happened here in 1944, he says he would see nearly as many American flags as French flags.
"It's not uncommon to go through these villages, which are numerous, and you'll see an American flag and a French flag as a permanent memorial to those troops," Cline added.
Cline also said that he found someone in the village who described the feeling in just three words: "It can be summed up by one shop owner, one coffee shop owner I talked to, and she said, in reference to you, meaning the US military, you saved us…and to me that sums it up."
Cline said he was also impressed with the number of school groups from France that toured the area. He was told that students in the region of Normandy are required to learn about the invasion and visit the site.
U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) contributed to this story and provided pictures.