Jewett man revisits Normandy

JEWETT – Maj. Gregory Curry II has his roots in Jewett, but he recently had the opportunity to participate in an historical event.

Curry had the honor of taking part in an important re-enactment in the history of World War II when he participated in 70th anniversary ceremonies that commemorated the Allied invasion of Normandy, D-Day.

This event was held on June 8 instead of the actual 70th anniversary on June 6. That special part of history was quite meaningful to Curry, who has spent 22 years in the U.S. Army.

“Just to be a part of that history and pay tribute to those who have done it before us is pretty amazing,” he said.

Curry and about 100 members of the 82nd Airborne Division departed from Fort Bragg, N.C., on May 24 to fly to the island of Corsica, which sits off the coast of France.

In addition to other U.S. Army units taking part in the D-Day re-enactment, Curry participate in a weeklong exercise with the French Foreign Legion in Corsica.

“This was part of our building relationships with our NATO allies for future operations or training opportunities,” he said.

The spring visit was Curry’s first to Normandy Beach and he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the parachute drop.

Multiple planes carried about 60 paratroopers each during the ceremony, with many units of the United States and that of Great Britain and France participating.

“The jump happened fast. It is usually 18 to 23 feet per second of a paratrooper’s rate of fall and we usually jump from 800 feet above the ground. In combat, it can be much closer-around 600 feet,” Curry explained.

Following the memorial service, all the paratroopers attended ceremonies at Sainte Mere Eglise for Medal of Honor winners who participated in the D-Day invasion.

It was noted that the village was strategically located along a highway that the Germans likely would have used for a counterattack against the troops landing on Utah and Omaha beaches.

“I was just looking forward to representing a generation that did some amazing things. Even after 70 years, the impact of what they did can still be seen,” he said.

Curry was speaking with a Frenchman who was 3 years old when he stood in the Sainte Mere Eglise town square and watched paratroopers jumping from their aircraft and the parachutes flaring open.

“He (Frenchman) talked about how grateful the people were and how much respect they had for the American forces and all who participated,” Curry said

Curry enlisted in the Army in January 1992, graduated from college and Officers Candidate School and taught in the captain’s career course. After Rangers school, he was a scout platoon leader with the United Nations Joint Security Battalion in South Korea. He was twice deployed to Iraq.

“It has been a great opportunity to be part the Normandy event, to help plan and show these young 18- to 20-year-old paratroopers what their predecessors have done. When talking with paratroopers who have jumped into combat, you get asked “how many jumps?” One of the young guys said he had made about 30. He looked at an old veteran and asked, ‘How many for you?’ His answer was, ‘Four but all of mine counted.'”

“Most of the veterans involved in that time are now at least 87 years old. This may be the last time any of the survivors are still alive to attend such a landmark anniversary,” Curry said.

Curry’s family, which includes Ashley; Ashton, 10; and Casi Rose, 9, reside in Walnut Creek.

He is the son of Greg and Karen Curry.

His father taught at the former Buchanan Junior High School in Wintersville. One grandmother, Charlotte Curry, lives in Jewett, while another, Velma Kress, resides in Bowerston.