Denis van den Brink publishes a book retracing his history, to be found at In Octavo Editions
The exceptional testimony of a hundred-year-old American veteran!
I don’t know if this modest book really does justice to the man Tom Rice is. He personifies and
He personifies and embodies in the most beautiful way the GI of the Second World War, this “Greatest Generation” dear to the heart of the Americans.
Descendant of French immigrants, he could have, like his fellow citizens of Italian, German, Polish, Greek origin… lost interest in the endless European conflicts. But his ancestors had left everything behind 160 years earlier to build a better life in America, free of all ideology and less affected, they hoped, by injustice.
It was this American dream, this ideal of a life based on the realization of one’s potential and intimate dreams that Tom and his millions of comrades spontaneously wanted to defend in 1941. Even if it meant sacrificing 3 years of his youth. Even if it means experiencing the terrible fury and blood of a devastating and merciless war. Even if it meant risking death or mutilation.
He came back, mute on his sufferings, deaf to his past, and totally turned towards the future. Is it the harshness of a childhood lived in the heart of the Great American Depression, is it the merciless selection to become a paratrooper, is it the conviction that life is fragile and must be lived happily from day to day, that makes Tom Rice this rock of optimism and good humor?
In any case, he remains an inspiration and an example, as do all his brothers in arms.
Denis van den Brink
American WWII veteran Thomas M. Rice, a paratrooper with the 501st Parachute InfantryRegiment of the 101st Airborne, turns 100 years old today. His hometown of Coronado, California, and the huge military community at the US Navy Base in San Diego, are joining efforts to celebrate this hero.
They are not alone. The city of Carentan les Marais in Normandy – France also wishes to thank its 1944 liberator. An imposing portrait was displayed to that effect on the Place de la République in Carentan as a tribute to this great American friend.
Tom had, as we remember, marked many spirits by renewing, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the D day landing, his jump of June 1944 on the edge of Carentan. Tom Rice’s adventures and peregrinations in Normandy in 1944, while commanding a mortar squad, are indelibly associated with Carentan. Tom was one of the three men in charge of the patrol on the night of June 6-7, guarding the south bank of the Douve River at the La Barquette locks. A few days later, it was in the Billonnerie sector that Tom stood his ground against SS Grenadiers.
Tom’s attachment to Normandy and Carentan was, however, slow to come to light. As he wrote in his memoirs of the Battle of Normandy (Trial by Combat), Tom had long been convinced that the French did not like the American soldiers who had caused so much destruction. «We ate all their chickens and destroyed their homes,» he said. On the eve of the 75th anniversary, Jean Pierre Lhonneur, Mayor of Carentan les Marais, suggested that Tom come and see for himself the extent of the gratitude of the Normans. Deeply touched, Tom now claims loud and clear his French lineage. He is indeed the direct descendant of Marie Catherine Avaligne and Pierre Serrot, two emigrants who left Tracy le Mont in Oise in 1791 to create the town of Gallipoli, Ohio. Tom now dreams of only one thing, to return to Carentan in 2022 for his 101st birthday to celebrate his glorious 101st Airborne with a new jump.
Few or no parties, parades, balls, conferences, concerts, festivals, parachuting, but ceremonies in restricted committee. However, in the spirit as in the will, Carentan and Normandy did not forget. The dates of the first days of June are forever engraved in history and in the collective memory.
This year, internet technology is once again being used to transmit and communicate the same messages of gratitude for the liberators, and to connect all those for whom the sacrifices made 77 years ago mean something.
The 77th anniversary of D-Day will be commemorated in a form far removed from the one usually offered to the inhabitants of Carentan and the thousands of visitors, as evidenced by this poster, which features one of the many emblematic images of the liberation, the awarding of the Silver Star to the four Carentan colonels by General Maxwell Taylor on June 15, 1944.
The website carentan1944.com summarizes in its many sections the legacy of 77 years of memories, gratitude and friendship between nations. Stay connected with us to follow the 77th D-Day Anniversary !
The success of the ceremonies and events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the beginning of the Battle of Normandy have made it possible to measure the growing importance of remembrance tourism on the Normandy coast, and in La Manche in particular.
The tourist offer articulated around modern, innovative and educational museums, historical tours and memorial monuments has never been so rich and complete.
This offer can be enhanced and structured even further, by relying on a knowledge center, a receptacle of knowledge and an orientation platform for visitors, the CARENTAN VISITOR CENTER.
The idea is to offer a reception center for all visitors, from school children to veterans, who wish to learn about the Battle of Carentan and the countless feats of arms in the area.
It is a place of knowledge and information of great historical rigor, available to the greatest number. A space dedicated to a detailed knowledge of the events leading to the liberation of Carentan and the beginning of the Battle of Normandy. The narration is treated in a playful way, based on archival images and animated maps projected in synchronization with the text, in an immersive atmosphere, alternating French and English versions. A short treatment, about fifteen minutes, dense, precise without being boring, rich in images to allow, maps to support, an excellent chronological visualization of the battle.
It is the Manchois web designer Alexandre Maurouard who created and realized the animation.
The final location of this Visitor Center is under consideration. But from June 4 to August 31, visitors are invited to discover this introduction to the Battle of Carentan at the Carentan media library, Square Hervé Mangon, behind the Town Hall. Free access.
Open from Monday to Saturday, from 10 am to 12:30 pm and from 2pm to 4pm.
SESSION TIMETABLE (duration approximately 20 minutes):
10:15 am: French
10:45 am: English
11:15 am: French
11:45 am : English
12:15 am: French
2:15 pm: English
2:45 pm pm: English
3:45 pm: French
4:15 pm: English
4:45 pm: French
5:15 pm: English: French
Jodi Martin, granddaughter of G/506 PIR veteran James Pee Wee Martin jumped yesterday in Xenia, Ohio to celebrate her hero grandfather’s 100th birthday. She jumped with the Star Spangled banner and the Norman leopards from the flag given to Tom Rice (C/501st) last year by Jean Pierre Lhonneur, Mayor of Carentan les Marais. Tom will also celebrate his 100th birthday this year…