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Politics and Government

“It’s been awhile”: A Colorado congressman jumped out of a plane to commemorate D-Day

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat and former Army Ranger, was one of two members of Congress to participate in the Normandy event on Sunday

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U.S. Rep. Jaon Crow, an Aurora Democrat, dresses up in a World War II-era paratrooper uniform for a commemorative airplane jump in France on Sunday, June 9, 2019. (Handout)

It has been nearly 15 years since U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, a former Army Ranger and member of the 82nd Airborne Division, parachuted in service to his country.

“It’s been awhile,” he said in an interview Friday.

But the Aurora Democrat took to the skies again Sunday in France when he leaped from a plane to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the broader allied invasion of France during World War II, which was led by paratroopers in the same unit Crow once belonged to.

“It means a great deal to me,” he said. “Not only as a veteran, but as a veteran of one of two of the units that had very significant roles in the invasion. It’s really important to me.”

He completed his jump, made out of a World War II-era C-47 propeller transport plane, dressed as authentically as possible. Instead of using the parachuting gear troops had back in the 1940s, however, he used modern day, military grade equipment.

It was a solo jump, meaning the jump master, a designation he achieved in the military, did not fall from the sky with the help of a guide.

Before the jump, the ex-paratrooper’s first since 2005, Crow joked that his wife wasn’t thrilled about the mission.

“Deserai will be very happy when I’m done,” Crow, 40, said in a phone call from France where he spent the week commemorating the historic battle that sparked the allied victory. “She realized a long time ago that occasionally I have interesting ideas. Once I get focused on something, she’s very supportive.”

Crow joined U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican and former Army Green Beret, in the commemoration. The pair were aiming to show unity in their bipartisan parachuting excursion. They were the only members of Congress to participate in Sunday’s event.

“We’re hoping to do it together, or at least of the same time, and show some unity and a common bond,” Crow said Friday.

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat, on the left, with U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Florida. (Handout)

Roughly 1,000 people participated in the event, parachuting the ground in the approximate area where 82nd and 101st Airborne Division troops deployed behind enemy lines in June 1944. They were the first soldiers to fight on D-Day, leading the invasion of mainland Europe that ultimately ended the war.

MORE: D-Day’s heroes may be disappearing, but their stories have proved indelible

Crow got to France on Wednesday and was departing on Sunday. Also with him on the overseas trip was U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, an Arvada Democrat, and dozens of other members of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, left, an Arvada Democrat at left, poses with U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, an Aurora Democrat. (Handout)

Many top-level American officials, including President Donald Trump, visited Europe this week to recognize the 75th anniversary and attend events honoring history.

There were also other commemorative parachute jumps completed to mark the anniversary in recent days. One even included a 97-year-old D-Day veteran.

“To have the opportunity, with a bipartisan delegation, sends a very strong message of service and sacrifice and duty,” he said. “I think that’s a really important message right now.”