TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Thousands of U.S. Paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines during the Normandy Invasion on June 6, 1944.
One of them was “A” Company Commanding Officer of the 507th Paratrooper Infantry Regiment, Captain James Nunn; he jumped from a plane with his men and landed in a field a few miles from Utah Beach.
“When he landed, he injured his ankle, he landed in about what he said, about hip-deep water," said Tom Nunn, Capt. Nunn’s son.
After Capt. Nunn injured his ankle during the jump, he was taken to a nearby farmhouse where locals were treating wounded soldiers and was moved to London for further treatment. The 507th moved on without him. After returning to battle days later, Capt. Nunn was shot in the face by a sniper.
Tom Nunn said his father didn’t share many wartime stories. When Nunn and his siblings asked their father if he wanted to take a trip to Normandy for the 50th Anniversary of invasion, he refused.
“I wasn’t with them, so I really don’t think I should participate with them because I don’t deserve it," was the response Tom remembered from his father.
Nunn’s father passed away in 2011. Research, military records and a trip booked with Road Scholar would take Nunn and his wife, Linda, to the road his father once traveled.
When Road Scholar learned of about Nunn’s interest in the trip this past April, they arranged for guide to take the Nunns on a private trip to retrace his father’s steps. They relied on Nunn’s research and Google Maps.
“Even as we got into the van and started driving out of the field, I kept staring at the field thinking Dad was along with us," said Nunn.
The group was able to find the farmhouse his father was carried to after landing in the field. The property’s new owner, the son of a family who’d lived nearby in 1944, welcomed the group in.
“The elderly gentleman said, this house has not changed since D-Day. It hasn’t changed in 75 years,” said Nunn. “What your dad saw when he came in, is what you’re looking at now."
“I just knew he was in there, telling me things like, ‘I sat right there’ and ‘yea, this is the place Tom, you’re right," Nunn said.
Before leaving, the family presented Nunn with military trinkets they had found in the fields. Nunn said one of the men pulled out a piece of a parachute and cut him a small square.
“He gave this to me. He says ‘you take this, this is your dads,’” Nunn said. "This trip turned into an experience that I shared with my dad, that I never had when I was growing up.”
Nunn said the opportunity to retrace his father’s steps was more than he ever could have imagined.
“A trip of a lifetime," Nunn said.
The steps, walked him right intro a father-son bond that he never had. An unspoken connection that couldn’t wait any longer.
“I didn’t ever hear it, but I kept imaging dad was telling me that he was happy for me, to find the exact places that he had been," said Nunn.
Road Scholar is the nation’s largest not-for-profit educational travel organization for adults. The company offers 5,500 programs in 150 countries and 50 states and financial aid for those who otherwise could not participate in its programs.