Palm Beach Rotarian & Jupiter Army veteran, parachutes into Normandy for D-Day tribute.
Updated: Jun 9, 2019
Chung Wong, a registered principal for Raymond James, was among roughly 225 volunteers who parachuted into Normandy on Wednesday to mark 75 years since the D-Day invasion of World War II.
JUPITER — Like many D-Day paratroopers did 75 years ago, Jupiter Army veteran Chung Wong missed his drop zone as he parachuted into Normandy, France, on Wednesday.
The stakes were much lower this week. Instead of the darkness of night and enemy fire, Wong was greeted by local French residents who were eager to help carry his bags and offer him a ride.
A registered principal for Raymond James in Jupiter, Wong was among roughly 225 volunteer parachutists who jumped from historical airplanes, notably the C-47, as part of the international Daks over Normandy event honoring the allied soldiers and aircraft that took part in the D-Day invasion 75 years ago this week. More than 800 C-47s, the military variant of the DC-3, were involved in the D-Day invasion, according to Daks over Normandy’s website.
Donning a World War II-style uniform, Wong said he landed in a wheat field about a half-mile from his drop zone in Sannerville, France, early Wednesday night local time. He was in the lead plane, a C-47 named That’s All, Brother, with about 20 other volunteers.
Wong said participating in the D-Day commemoration was one of the coolest experiences of his life, but added that there was also a solemn aspect to it.
“I think it’s an honor to be able to represent these veterans who saved the world — not this country, but saved the world,” he said last week.
It took some work for Wong to prepare for the jump, though, he said, in parachuting “90 percent of the work is done by gravity.”
The retired Army sergeant made about 25 jumps as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he served in the Gulf War. But he let almost 30 years pass before he jumped again.
To prepare for Normandy, Wong said he had taken about 10 practice jumps at the National Parachute Test Center near Ocala since October. The pre-jump jitters never go away, but Wong said he was quickly reminded of how much enjoys parachuting.
“You still get butterflies before you jump,” Wong said. “You get that nervousness but once you jump out, its peaceful.”
A desire to help the nation drove him to enlist after graduating high school in 1986, he said. Wong graduated from Florida State University after leaving the Army, according to the news release.
“I think being in America, it’s important to serve this country,” Wong said.
After applying for and being accepted to become one the event’s parachutists early last year, Wong said he was on the receiving end of jokes from his family. His wife, Daisy, and two daughters, 13-year-old Skye and 16-year-old Autumn. They were waiting for him in France after his jump.
“They thought I was crazy and nuts,” Wong said, “Of course, they made jokes (like), ‘I hope your insurance was up to date.’”
Link to full article in Palm Beach Post below.