Tim Malloy, an Islip High School graduate, returned from France earlier this week after parachuting over the beaches of Normandy to help mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
ISLIP—Tim Malloy, an Islip High School graduate, returned from France earlier this week after parachuting over the beaches of Normandy to help mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Malloy’s journey to commemorate this historic occasion began a little over a year after he graduated high school, in 1974, when he joined the 106th Rescue Wing, a unit of the New York Air National Guard stationed at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach. “I was unemployed and needed a job at the time,” he laughed, “but I was also athletic in high school and the idea of rescuing people interested me.”
Malloy, now a Baiting Hollow resident, compared the experience to being in the Coast Guard. “But there’s a little more to it,” he laughed. Molloy worked with and performed pararescue missions with the unit for 28 years, and joined the Suffolk County Police Department in 2000. He retired from the police department last year.
“I’ve always been interested in history, particularly military history,” Malloy said, citing the “Band of Brothers” book and TV miniseries. While doing research online, Malloy came across the Daks Over Normandy, which organized the jump earlier this month.
Daks Over Normandy, which takes its name from the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, or Dakota aircrafts that were used extensively by Allied troops during World War II, calls June 6, 1944, “one of the most important dates in modern history.”
“It marks the date on which almost 160,000 Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches to start the liberation of Western Europe,” the website reads. “The assault was preceded by 24,000 troops who parachuted in or came by glider.”
Over 800 Dakotas were used in the airborne assault, according to the group.
Despite nearly three decades with the rescue unit on Long Island’s the East End, Malloy hadn’t parachuted in quite some time. So, for a little brush up, he went to the Airborne Demonstration Team in Frederick, Okla., where he did numerous jumps back in October.
Malloy also did a few more jumps with another group in February to prepare for his latest feat, which included 12 aircrafts and about 220 paratroopers in the skies over a small but significant portion of the former Western Front.
The gathering marked the first time since WWII that this many Dakotas converged on the spot that served as a pivotal turning point in the six-year conflict. The aircrafts’ owners and operators came from all over the world, including Australia, Canada, Europe and the United States.
Malloy explained that the restored planes were the same ones used on D-Day. The plane he hitched a ride on before the jump, Ace is High, lead the air convoy, and like many of the other aircrafts, sported a vintage pinup girl canvas.
The event was held in two locations: Duxford Airbase in the United Kingdom from June 2-5 and Caen Carpiquet Airport in Normandy, France from June 5-9. Both locations, according to Daks Over Normandy, were chosen because of their facilities, infrastructure and WWII heritage.
“The whole idea [of the jump] was to pay tribute to the greatest generation,” Malloy said, adding the group “mimicked the route” that the military took over the English Channel. Hundreds of thousands of people watched as participants from all over the globe landed on the infamous beaches. “It was pretty amazing,” Molloy said.
During the trip, Malloy struck up a friendship with WWII veteran George Cross, who stormed the beaches all those years ago, but never managed to return until the recent anniversary. Malloy admits that this gathering will probably be the last time this many veterans from the era will be together.
He also called Cross, 97, a “wonderful old man,” and told him, during their brief but obviously lasting encounter, “You’re the reason I’m here.”