(FOX 7 Austin) - A team of World War II re-enactors Tuesday gathered at England’s Duxford Airfield in front of a real veteran of the war, a C-47 SkyTrain, while preparing for a Wednesday jump over Normandy as part of the anniversary of D-Day.
The transport plane, which goes by the name of "That’s All Brother," flew to England last month from San Marcos.
"It hits home now that we are here and the mission is going, we are getting ready for the crossing … To be in one of the aircraft especially the lead aircraft on the D-Day Mission, it’s hard to explain,” flight team member John Cyrier said.
Cyrier brought with him a “Come and Take It” flag. The Texas state lawmaker represents a district that includes Gonzales and uses the flag to collect signatures. At the airfield he got a surviving member of the D-Day invasion to sign it.
"He was the Pathfinder, one of the original Pathfinder Pilots on a C-47, he was also the first into the battle of the Bulge,” Cyrier said.
Cyrier also took 40 Texas flags that at one time flew atop the Capitol dome. The plane and crew are a long way from home base in San Marcos and the blue skies of central Texas, but for the C 47, it’s familiar air.
On June 6, 1944 “That’s All Brother" was the lead transport aircraft for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. A little more than 300 soldiers were killed in the initial pre-dawn attack. Twenty-one C-47's were lost. The number of killed and wounded during the D-Day operation for the airborne divisions totaled almost 2500 men.
Now, 75 years later, even with new faces on board, the stress and pressure of D-Day can still be felt.
"I could only imagine what was going through their minds in the middle of the night in the darkness … June 6th 1944 they had no idea what they were getting into … I could just imagine what the fear and anxiety they must have been going through, through all of those men,” Cyrier said.
On Thursday, “That’s All Brother” will lead another sortie to Normandy. The fly-over will involve 14 C-47's in a tight formation and it’s a powerful sight that Cyrier says he will never forget.
"When we get over to Normandy I’m looking forward to meeting some of the French and hearing some of their stories,” Cyrier said. “Because obviously they were the ones being invaded by the Germans and liberated by the Americans so I can’t wait to let them see the aircraft and hear the stories from them.”
After the D-Day anniversary flights “That’s All Brother” and her crew will continue on into Europe. The plane will make stops in Germany and Paris for air shows.