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1976 West Marshall grad to participate in Normandy’s D-Day reenactment

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - 1976 West Marshall High School graduate Doug Rozendaal is pictured with crew members of an original and restored C-47 plane recently. Beginning May 19, Rozendaal and crew embarked on a trans-Atlantic flight from Connecticut to Duxford, England to take part in events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing. The C-47 was a workhorse in World War II and used to drop paratroopers.

A 1976 West Marshall High School graduate is passionate about teaching youth about World War II.

However, Doug Rozendaal of Clear Lake is not using textbooks or PowerPoint.

Rozendaal is using a vintage but restored C-47 airplane nicknamed “That’s All … Brother” to demonstrate the sacrifices members of the “Greatest Generation” and allies made while defeating the Axis powers of Italy, Germany and Japan in the war.

The C-47 was a workhorse used extensively during the war to drop paratroopers into battle zones or behind enemy lines in the European Theater.

Some historians consider World War II the most seminal event of the 20th century as the forces of liberty and freedom — Canada, France, United Kingdom, U.S. and others — faced off against the powers promoting fascism.

“I am afraid the tremendous sacrifices made during the war by our armed forces, civilians and others is not being taught effectively in classrooms,” he said. “The lessons we learned in World War II are applicable today. We can not, must not, let their sacrifices be in vain.”

Motivating Rozendaal and other members of the Commemorative Air Force — whose mission is to honor American military aviation through flight exhibition — is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day liberation of Normandy, France on June 6.

On June 6, 1944, Americans, British, Canadian and French forces landed on Normandy beaches while sustaining extremely heavy losses of manpower and equipment inflicted by German occupiers. The Allies prevailed and used the foothold to eventually liberate France and the rest of Europe from the yoke of Nazi Germany.

“‘That’s All … Brother’ was the lead aircraft in the D-Day liberation,” Rozendaal said. “There were other C-47s launched the day before as pathfinders, but when the liberation began this airplane was the first one launched – loaded with paratroopers who jumped into France in the dark and fog and to an unknown fate during the early morning hours of June 6.”

On May 19, Rozendaal and crew departed Connecticut to fly in a 15-ship formation flight over the Hudson River in New York City before heading to Goose Bay, Canada. They stopped in Narsarsauq, Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland and Prestwick, Scotland before landing in Duxford, U.K. There, he and crew will prepare for the reenactment of the Normandy liberation carried out by Allied forces in 1944.

It will take part with 26 other transports in a paratrooper drop over Normandy. The airplane will then travel to Germany, where it commemorate the Berlin Airlift before returning to France to participate in the Paris Air Show.

Rozendaal is a veteran pilot whose hobby is flying vintage military aircraft. He is certified in numerous aircraft types including the P-40 Flying Tiger, P-51 Mustang, F4U Corsair, B-25 Mitchell, Japanese Zero and B-29 Super-Fortress among others. Rozendaal is a long-time member of the Commemorative Air Force and currently serves as president of the board.

When not flying vintage aircraft, Rozendaal owns and operates a Mason City agricultural supply company.

The Commemorative Air Force has been collecting, restoring and flying World War II aircraft for more than 50 years. A not-for-profit educational organization, the Commemorative Air Force is now the world’s largest flying museum with more than 12,000 members and a fleet of 167 airplanes. Nearly all of the aircraft are kept in flying condition enabling people to experience first-hand the sight and sound of vintage military aircraft in flight. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.

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