The soldiers who inspired '12 Strong' are honoring D-Day heroes with a special parachute jump

Mandatory Fun
Team American Freedom with the historic C-47 Tico Bell in the background. (Q Concepts via Military.com)

Editor's Note: This article by Sean Mclain Brown originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion into Normandy, France coming June 5, a group of veterans are planning a reenactment jump as part of the celebration.

But they'll be jumping with an item not on the packing list of World War II U.S. soldiers — or at least not the official one: bourbon.


The group of 15, backed by the American Freedom Distillery based in St. Petersburg, Florida, plans to jump out of the C-47 "Tico Belle," the same plane that dropped soldiers on D-Day. Now owned by the Valiant Air Command museum in Florida, the plane will be flown to France for the anniversary.

The distillery is owned and operated by a group of special forces veterans whose story was featured in the 2018 film "12 Strong," an account of the first operators deployed to Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The team will parachute into the historic drop zones of Normandy on June 5th, along with the airdropped barrel of bourbon.

"Our brand is founded by a team of former special forces members, so it's an incredible honor to be invited to this celebration as a brand, but also as veterans and represent our country and brethren of past, present," Scott Neil, co-founder of American Freedom Distillery and Green Beret veteran said in an email.

"This is a unique, once in a lifetime opportunity for us and it's incredible to not only be invited to participate in the 75th anniversary but to be the lead aircraft for the D-Day reenactment of airborne celebrations."

Retired Army Maj. Mark Nutsch said that the Tico Belle made drops into German-occupied territory five nights in a row, and that it was exciting to be jumping from the same historic aircraft.

"We really wanted to honor the resistance fighters, who many people don't know about," said Nutsch, who works with the distillery as a brand representative. "We want the younger generation of warriors to understand what these men put on the line."

The reenactment will be meticulous, down to authentic WWII Allied uniforms, military round parachutes, weapons, and equipment.

"We're excited to the jump and really show our respect for the untold stories and sacrifices," said Nutsch. "We're looking forward to the camaraderie with other veterans along with our families."

When he found out they were going to be able to honor the heroes of D-Day with a jump, retired Chief Warrant Officer Bob Pennington "felt like a kid again."

"It may be the last time we have any WWII veterans," Pennington, who also works with the distillery, said. "It's an opportunity to honor the little known WWII resistance special operator teams, if not for them D-Day wouldn't have been a success."

This article originally appeared on Military.com

More articles from Military.com:

SEE ALSO: 5 Incredible Military Movies And Shows You May Have Missed In 2018

WATCH NEXT: On The Red Carpet For '12 Strong'

Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra

Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.

However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:

Read More

You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.

Read More

A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.

Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.

"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."

Read More

Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.

Read More
Protesters and militia fighters gather to condemn air strikes on bases belonging to Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces), outside the main gate of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. (Reuters/Thaier al-Sudani)

With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Read More