WWII veteran honors D-Day anniversary with world-wide bell ringing

Posted at 11:48 PM, Jun 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 02:51:58-04

CORONADO, Calif. (KGTV) - Every June 6 that passes marks one more year since a historic day in world history: D-Day.

Coronado local Tom Rice was there. He was part of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.

Seventy six years ago, Rice jumped out of a plane onto the beaches of Normandy, not knowing it would become a turning point in World War II.

Since 1944, Rice works to commemorate the day. In recent years, he’s returned to France to re-enact D-Day, jumping out of a plane like he did during the war. This year, it’s different.

Coronavirus has impacted his ability to travel overseas, so he has a new way to honor the day. It started with Carentan, the area in France where he usually jumps, deciding to ring a bell at 6:44 p.m. to commemorate the June of 1944 date.

Then, Rice and his army of friends in San Diego decided to turn it into something larger. At 6:44 p.m. local time, Rice rung a bell at the Coronado Naval Base, and he wasn’t alone. Friends and supporters all rang bells at the same time to mark the anniversary.

“Globally the bells will ring for thee. For those who died, who were captured, who suffered all the deprivations that war can bring,” said Rice.

At 98-years-old, the veteran has jumped out of a plane 63 times, and 48 of those were with the military.