British Columbia

Victoria skydiver to help recreate D-Day paratrooper jumps in Normandy

A Victoria skydiver will join hundreds of other skydivers Wednesday in recreating the invasion of the Nazi-occupied beaches of Normandy, France.

Paratrooper recreations are underway in France for the 75th anniversary of D-Day

Spectators look on as planes fly overhead during a group parachute jump in Carentan, Normandy, France, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/Associated Press)

A Victoria skydiver will join hundreds of other skydivers on Thursday in recreating the invasion of the Nazi-occupied beaches of Normandy, France.

On June 6, 1944, D-Day, more than 100,000 allied soldiers landed on the beaches, starting the invasion of Nazi-controlled Europe. Thousands of those soldiers jumped out of hundreds of aircraft crossing the English Channel.

Peter Vos, a skydiver and instructor from Victoria, B.C., will be one of more than 2,000 skydivers from around the world who will fly over the beaches of Normandy. Three hundred of them will jump on the anniversary, including Vos.

Vos first started skydiving in 1988. He is now an instructor at Capital City Skydiving in Victoria, B.C. (Capital City Skydiving)

When Vos first learned about the paratrooper recreations in France, he was excited to get involved. 

"I thought, what a wonderful way to get involved and pay tribute and respect to the men and women in the service in World War II who fought for everything we have today," Vos told Gregor Craigie, host of On the Island

It's personal 

Vos' father was born in Holland and lived through the Second World War as a young boy. His grandfather was in the Canadian Armed Forces. These men were on Vos' mind when he decided to participate in the recreation. Skydiving is his contribution to the memory of the soldiers and those affected by the war, he says.

"I thought about my father a lot and also just everything that I take for granted in my life. It was bought and paid for right over here [on the beaches of Normandy] ... It's about time that we pay tribute to the greatest generation and keep their memories alive."

Allied forces Supreme Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaks with U.S. Army paratroopers of Easy Company, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (Strike) of the 101st Airborne Division, at Greenham Common Airfield in England, June 5, 1944. (U.S. National Archives/Reuters)

Getting the right training

Vos first started skydiving in 1988. He began sport skydiving training with round parachutes, the same style the Normandy jumpers will be using in their recreation. 

In order to be a part of the recreations, Vos had to get fully qualified on a modern round parachute, the type used in the military. Vos then had to go to Florida to attend a week-long training school where other recreation jumpers were training alongside military-hopefuls and sport jumpers.

"It was really like being in the army for a week. It was everything short of pushups and kitchen patrol, so it was an eye opener for an older fellow like me," he said. 

Listen to the full interview here:

We speak with a Victoria skydiver who is taking part in a massive paratroop jump recreation in France this week to commemorate D-Day. 8:45

With files by On the Island

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