Esky soldier part of D-Day reenactment
ESCANABA — An Escanaba resident recently participated in the 73rd anniversary D-Day reenactment in Normandy, France. According to Lewis Ostrander it was an experience he will never forget.
Ostrander, 20, leaped from an airplane into Normandy with American, German and French paratroopers during the reenactment on June 4. Ostrander is currently stationed with the United States Army in Vicenza, Italy, which is approximately 45 miles west of Venice, Italy.
D-Day — the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France — took place originally on June 6, 1944 during World War II, when more than 160,000 allied troops from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain landed along a 50-mile stretch on the beaches of Normandy. It was the beginning of the campaign which lead to the defeat of Nazi Germany.
During the invasion, more than 5,000 ships and 3,000 aircraft participated. Although more than 9,000 allied troops were killed during the D-Day invasion, it also allowed 100,000 soldiers to make their way across Europe. D-Day was the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.
In the reenactment, Ostrander explained that more than 300 paratroopers leapt from various aircrafts, making about four passes each time for the military members to jump in a drop-zone field, 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) from the actual beaches of Normandy.
To be chosen to be a part of the jump is honorable, said Ostrander, adding he was one of the personnel chosen from over 400 people in five different Companies stationed in Europe.
“Some people wait their whole careers to be a part of the jump,” said Ostrander. “This was definitely an honor.”
In addition to taking part in the D-Day reenactment, Ostrander said he was also a part of various other ceremonies that commemorated D-Day including, cemetery memorial services, noting he was in Normandy 10-12 days prior to the actual reenactment.
On top of the thousands of people watching Ostrander jump from a plane, Ostrander’s wife, Carley, his father, Timothy Ostrander and his girlfriend, along with Lewis’ aunt and uncle, were also there to witness the paratroopers descend from the sky.
“It was incredible,” said Carley, adding this was her first trip to France and her third time visiting Italy.
This wasn’t Ostrander’s first time exiting a plane via parachute. He said the D-Day jump commemorated his 10th leap from the clouds.
Ostrander’s grandmother, Judy Davidson of Escanaba, said she couldn’t be more proud of Lewis, adding not only did he have an audience on the ground but also with him in heaven. Ostrander’s mother passed away shortly after he left for the military, and Davidson and Ostrander both agreed they think she had some “pull” to him having this experience. Davidson added his mother has been his angel helping him through his military career.
“Well, everything he does is an honor,” said Davidson of her grandson. “I knew that when he told me about it, they didn’t just pick anyone to do it, it was an honor to be picked. I am just so blessed to have him as my grandson.”
Ostrander said the people of France were welcoming and warm, and that was something he will cherish for a lifetime.
“By all means, it was the best week in a half I have had in the Army by far and the most honorable,” said Ostrander. “I know I’m very fortunate to get it as early as it is in my career. I definitely would love to go back.”