BOOGIE BABY & WWIIJune 2019 marked the 75th Anniversary of the WWII Normandy Invasion of France (D-Day). During the night of June 6, 1944, C-47 Skytrain aircraft dropped around 13,000 American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions behind enemy lines in opening maneuvers of Operation Overlord. Their specific missions were to block Nazi approaches to the D-day beachheads, capture causeways that led to the beaches, and establish connections to merge the two American landings.

As a historian, particularly of military history, I have published a number of books and magazine articles on World War II, Vietnam, and the War on Terror. Now, I was privileged to go back in time as a member of Oklahoma’s WWII Parachute Demonstration Team to jump out of one of the iconic C-47 aircraft that had actually been utilized by paratroopers on D-Day.

Members of the Demonstration Team in parachute gear and outfitted in complete WWII combat uniforms down to our brown boots filed out of Operations to board the twin-prop combat veteran Boogie Baby. It was already warming its props for takeoff at the airport in Frederick, home base for the Team.

The aircraft had been well-maintained in its original D-day condition. Climbing up the portable steps into Boogie Baby’s cargo bay equipped with canvas seating was like being transported back to WWII. My helmeted and rigged teammates could well have been those young jumpers preparing for their night insertions over occupied France—except most of us now were much older than they had been and had made our jumps in more recent times and in modern aircraft.

I had served in U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) for thirteen years and had made more than 100 parachute exits in various locations and hot spots around the globe. This one, however, would be my most memorable because of the history behind it.

Boogie Baby took off from the airfield. With jump doors closed, the men and atmosphere inside approximated how it must have actually been those decades before in 1944. Soon, the C-47 circled the designated DZ, the jump doors open, JMs took their places and the commands began: Get ready! Stand up! Hook up! Equipment check! Sound off for equipment check! Stand in the door. . .Go!

Astonishing how quickly a “stick” of paratroopers can exit an aircraft. Out I went, half-expecting in my imagination to confront Nazi flak and enemy troops firing at us. It was that realistic. Boogie Baby roared away as parachutes blossomed in the sky. An amazing scene replayed directly out of history.

Charles W. Sasser is author of more than 60 books. His latest military history is Night Fighter, the story of Navy Captain William H. Hamilton, a veteran of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, and a founder of the Navy SEALS.