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Julian Rice

1st Lt. William Prindible and 2nd Lt. Julian Rice flew airdrop missions during the invasion of Normandy at a very young age. The pair both joined the Army Air Forces in 1942 and were stationed in Sicily, Italy with the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

1st Lt. William Prindible and 2nd Lt. Julian Rice flew airdrop missions during the invasion of Normandy at a very young age. The pair both joined the Army Air Forces in 1942 and were stationed in Sicily, Italy with the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jordan Castelan)

1st Lt. William Prindible and 2nd Lt. Julian Rice flew airdrop missions during the invasion of Normandy at a very young age. The pair both joined the Army Air Forces in 1942 and were stationed in Sicily, Italy with the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron. 

In the fall of 1943, they were sent to Cottesmore, England for six months to prepare for the Normandy invasion. 

The two veterans spoke to a packed crowd of service members, dependents and retirees at Ramstein Air Base the week before the 70th Anniversary and focused on the unforgettable moments that led up to the invasion, including when they flew in tight formation during a training mission two weeks prior to D-Day; training that ended in tragedy. 

Rice said the night was shrouded with confusion, which led to mid-air collisions and the first of their casualties prior to the invasion even beginning. Even with prior casualties, their dedication allowed the 37th TCS to drop Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne behind Utah Beach, Normandy, France, between St. Mere-Eglise and Carentan on June 6, 1944.

Within a day, the invasion was complete, but the mission did not end there. The next day they brought in ammunition and medical supplies to the men who were dropped, and evacuated the wounded. 

"It seems like only yesterday we were there on D-Day," said Rice. "It's something you would never forget. At the time, we were happy to be able do what we had to.”