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Paratrooper to jump in Normandy

by on June 06, 2014 11:00 AM

Seventy years ago today, thousands of Allied soldiers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, to begin liberating Europe from Nazi Germany. Operation Overlord, as the largest seaborne military operation in history was called, began with a nighttime drop of more than 13,000 paratroopers of the American 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions behind the beaches.

The paratroopers’ mission that night was to block German reinforcements from reaching the vicinity of the amphibious landings and to capture causeway exits off the beaches and leading inland.

To commemorate that critical assignment on June 6, 1944, the 82nd Airborne Division will conduct a parachute jump in Normandy on Sunday, and a Plumville soldier will be among the select troops taking part in the tribute jump.

Spc. Carson Downey, 20, a member of the 82nd’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, is one of 115 paratroopers chosen from the division’s 19,000 soldiers to form a composite company to make the commemorative jump at La Fiere, near Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France, according to the division’s public affairs office.

Downey is a 2011 graduate of Marion Center Area High School.

He completed his Army advanced individual training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., and is an unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle operator.

He has made 14 parachute jumps with the 82nd and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

Members of the 82nd have been in France for a couple weeks participating in training exercises with French and British forces before the D-Day anniversary. While in Normandy, some 82nd soldiers will also participate in Medal of Honor presentations to World War II paratroopers who are just now receiving those awards.

Downey is the son of Jeff and Tammie Downey, of Plumville.

His older brother, Sgt. Chase Downey, usually assigned to Fort Drum, N.Y., is temporarily assigned for schooling at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Randy Wells has been a reporter and staff writer at The Indiana Gazette since 1988. His regular assignments include coverage of the Indiana County commissioners, Indiana Borough council and the Marion Center Area School District. His email address is
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