Thursday, June 6 will be the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landing during WWII.
The last time Clifford Stump, age 94 was in Normandy he was a 20-year-old artillery glider-man landing in Normandy with the 82nd Airborne. This week, he's returning to Normandy for the first time in 75 years.
On June 3, three WWII veterans, Clifford Stump, Harry Miller and Gordon Monson, will be flying out from Washington-Dulles Airport, for what most agree is likely the last anniversary gathering that living WWII veterans will be physically able to attend.
Before they depart, the veterans are having lunch at the airport with local northern Virginia students, many of who have never met a WWII veteran. The students and United Airlines are helping organize a “sending off” from the gate after the lunch.
Their first stop in Europe will be the famous Nijmegen Bridge. Gordon Monson was wounded as part of the operation to free the city and along with Stump who participated in Operation Market Garden. On the morning of June 4th, Gordon, Clifford and Harry will cross the Nijmegen Bridge for the first time along with local Dutch students. The city of Nijmegen dedicated the new bridge to the 48 fallen soldiers with 48 street lamps spanning the bridge that light up in slow succession at dusk. The story of how the 82nd Airborne fought to liberate Nijmegen from the Nazi’s was chronicled in the 1977 film “A Bridge to Far.”
On June 5th, before heading to Normandy, the group will travel to a small village in Belgium where two of the men fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In this part of the Ardennes Forrest is where Harry Miller’s 740th tank battalion, the “Daredevils” teamed up with the 82nd Airborne. Locals, some who still remember being liberated, will be hosting a lunch for the veterans.
A group of volunteers has helped organize a GoFundMe page to help defray some of the costs for the veterans to travel back to D-Day 75.
On D-Day the veterans will be on hand at the Normandy American Cemetery for the official ceremonies with President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.