Story by SGT Avery Cunningham on 05/18/2019NORMANDY, France - Mont Special Forces Soldiers assigned to the U.S. Army's 10th Special Force Group (Airborne), conducted an airborne operation onto a drop zone outside the Mont Saint-Michel abbey in Normandy, France, May 18 to commemorate their special operations forebearers alongside French Allies.
Three U.S. Air Force aircraft assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing and the 86th Airlift Wing delivered approximately 135 U.S. paratroopers onto the drop zone two kilometers outside of Mont Saint Michel, in both military free-fall and static-line parachute drops.
"Overall it was a great jump. It was smooth and went as planned," said a Soldier assigned to 10th SFG (A). "It's an outstanding experience to be able to honor the paratroopers who jumped into France during World War II."
A large crowd of residents from the commune of Avranches, who sponsored the event, attended the event to watch the 10th SFG (A) conduct an airborne operation.
"We invited them because it's a very good opportunity to have them jump at Avranches to start the World War II commemorations and celebrations leading up to the anniversary of the liberation of Avranches," said David Nicolas, the Mayor of Avranches Commune. "It's also good because today we are opening a new exhibition about World War II in Normandy at the history museum."
The Soldiers greeted the crowds before heading to Avranches for a wreath-laying ceremony at General Patton Memorial and then a ceremonial toast at the museum with the mayor of Avranches.
The first time paratroopers jumped here was in 2009, invited by Les Amis du Souvenir et de la Liberte (Friend for the Remembrance and Liberty). The site was chosen because of Saint Michael's association as the patron saint of paratroopers. The French military provided site support for the operation.
"We're here to facilitate the exercise, and work in accordance with the civilian authorities as part of the French and American partnership for D-Day celebrations," said French Sergeant Major Pierre-Andre Integlia, deputy to the French airborne officer of the French Military Academy. "It's a privilege to help commemorate the Allied veterans and their part in the liberation of France."
The jump celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the drop of Jedburgh teams into France ahead of the Allied invasion of Normandy to begin the liberation of France.
"We're honored to participate in the jump and celebrate with the great people of France," said a Soldier with 10th SFG (A) "It's important to remember the veterans both past and present and what they represent in service to their country."
In 1943, the Allies created three-man teams consisting of men from the British Special Operations Executive, American Office of Strategic Services, and General Charles de Gaulle's Free French organization. Known as Jedburghs, these teams also included a Belgian, a Canadian, a handful of Dutch, and a South African, bringing the total of operatives to just under three hundred men and number of teams to a hundred.
The Jedburghs were instrumental to the allied liberation of France and occupied Europe. The teams trained, armed, and directed local resistance fighters from behind enemy lines.
Today's U.S. Army Special Forces, the Green Berets, trace their history directly to the Jedburgh teams. As the Army's first Special Forces group, the 10th Special Forces were established in 1952 and immediately deployed forward to Europe during the Cold War.
"10th SFG(A) draws their lineage from the Jedburghs," said a senior enlisted Soldier assigned to 10th SFG (A). "We're celebrating their combined effort to liberate Western Europe with local forces. The airborne operation celebrates the long relationship between America and France and 10th SFG's commitment to continuing the tradition of training and working with our allies in Europe."
Irwin, W. (2006). The Jedburghs. London: Ebury.