It was 69 years ago that Julian “Bud” Rice was piloting a plane to drop paratroopers near the French town of St. Mere Eglise as part of the D-Day invasion of France on June 7, 1944.
But the Hancock Park resident remembers it as though it were yesterday.
He regaled some 250 members and guests of the Wilshire Country Club on June 7 to tell his experiences as a 22-year-old pilot during World War II.
After receiving 18 months stateside of technical and academic training, he joined the 316th Troop Carrier Group in Sicily in late 1943. He was later assigned to an airfield in England, the departure point for the droplift of the 21 paratroop passengers on the night of June 5. His was one of 72 planes in the armada going to France to unload the airmen.
Rice recalled heavy fog, which made the trip even more harrowing. His mission was to descend to 117 feet to drop his passengers. In order to slow the C-47 plane, he had to release the landing gear.
The Air Force veteran said the aerial invasion of Normandy was successful, and he credits the pilots, navigators, and crews of C-47s and gliders who, for the most part, managed to deliver the personnel and supplies, and who avoided mid-air collisions in the fog, anti-aircraft flak and machine gun fire.
The audience also heard some lighter recollections, including buying lingerie in Paris on an unscheduled trip.
Rice’s talk was arranged by Perry Bowers, Tom Lockett and Chuck Davis. The emcee was Phil Bartenetti.