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Local

To Normandy and back

Jasper County native speaks about his experience during 75th anniversary of D-Day in June

Doug Rozendaal gave a presentation about the historic C-47 named "That's All Brother" and the journey that Rozendaal took it on to Normandy.
Doug Rozendaal gave a presentation about the historic C-47 named "That's All Brother" and the journey that Rozendaal took it on to Normandy.

Doug Rozendaal visited Park Centre Wednesday to take guests on a journey through history following his trip to Normandy on a very historic airplane flying with 14 others across the Atlantic Ocean.

Rozendaal was involved with the flight of a restored C-47 airplane earlier this year back to Normandy. Named “That’s All Brother” Rozendaal was one of the pilots who flew this plane along the same flight path it flew 75 years ago during World War II.

“What I am here today to tell you about is my journey,” Rozendaal said.

Rozendaal spoke about the history of the plane itself through WWII and afterwards. He also gave details inside the process of restoring the plane and taking it on its historic journey.

“It is today the most original example of a C-47 ... I would argue that this is the most historically significant airplane flying in America today,” Rozendaal said.

What’s the history of “That’s All Brother”? This C-47 was the first airplane launched during D-Day. During the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the campaign was re-enacted using “That’s All Brother” to lead the way once more.

“We flew the same airplanes, across the same route, to the same destination,” Rozendaal said.

Throughout the presentation, Rozendaal showed plenty of photos of them flying on their journey. He also explained the difference in missions between what Rozendaal was involved in and the missions that took place 75 years ago during combat in WWII.

“The kids 75 years ago, every day 10, 15, 20 airplanes had to leave Goose Bay. They had to leave,” Rozendaal said.

The journey itself was a long one. In airplanes that are more than 75 years old one may think the journey could be scary. At an altitude ranging from 9,000 to 11,000 feet, Rozendaal said the temperature was rather cold.

“The engines on all 15 airplanes ran flawless,” Rozendaal said.

As Rozendaal took the guests on his journey to Normandy, he highlighted the many stops along the way to discuss history of WWII. One in particular was a story of their stop in Greenland and the unique aircraft that was found and brought back to life.

“They went out into the middle of the snow cap and excavated into the glacier 300 feet and pulled up a P-38, restored it and it flies today,” Rozendaal said.

The trip itself featured many places, many photos and required a lot of volunteers. To remember what those men and women sacrificed 75 years ago and to honor them was at the center of this journey.

“The greatest way that we can honor your generation is by making sure the lessons of WWII and that their sacrifice was not in vain,” Rozendaal said to the crowd at Park Centre.

Another point Rozendaal made about the trip was their desire to raise awareness. Not only for the plane itself but for what happened on D-Day 75 years ago and the sacrifices made throughout WWII.

“We raised a lot of awareness. I would argue not enough,” Rozendaal said.

This journey was extensive, going 150,000 miles with 45,000 miles being over water. It included 15 American airplanes with six of them being D-Day veterans. Flying through 22 airports in eight countries. The journey also came with an extensive cost.

“It was a $2.7 million operation,” Rozendaal said.

This journey was to commemorate those who sacrificed on that fateful day in Normandy 75 years ago and those who sacrificed throughout WWII. This kind of event is likely the last time it can be celebrated with veterans from this conflict. A stark reminder of time.

“It is trite but true that the history we forget we are bound to relearn and when you look at the cost of freedom that was paid in WWII it is just a travesty to let those lessons and memories die with this generation,” Rozendaal said.

Contact Dustin Teays at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or dteays@newtondailynews.com

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