World War II Veteran, 94, to Skydive 74 Years After Parachuting into Normandy on D-Day
Skydive to raise funds for Salvation Army Anti Human Trafficking efforts.
This September Commissioner Harry Read, 94, will be taking part in his
first high level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy June 6, 1944,
D-Day. Harry is using the event to fundraise for The Salvation Army’s Anti
Trafficking and Modern Slavery work in the UK.
As a 20-year-old Wireless Operator in World War II Harry was part of the
Parachute Brigade landing in Normandy early on June 6. To avoid attack
during war time parachuting would take place as close to the ground as
Harry explained, “On that morning at 00.50 hours I parachuted into Normandy
and 30 seconds later I was on the ground. It was a very different
experience to the one I’m about to undertake. This will be my first high
level skydive and I’m quite looking forward to the occasion. My doctor has
assured me my heart is as healthy as a middle aged man.”
Harry had seen veterans taking part in skydives previously and after
visiting the Normandy battlefields on an anniversary tour earlier this year
he was inspired to look into one for himself. Ahead of a possible skydive
next June (2019) at the 75-year anniversary of D-Day, Harry decided to try
a dive a little closer to home and is booked into The Old Sarum Airfield in
Salisbury September 14, 2018.
A life long member of The Salvation Army and a great-great grandfather, in
2016, Harry was awarded France’s highest honor, the Chevalier, by order of
the Légion d'Honneur for the role he played in the country’s liberation
from the Nazis in June 1944.
Harry explains his drive to take part in the skydive is about his sense of
faith overpowering his common sense. He says: “At whatever age we are, we
are more than capable of shrinking from something that we feel is beyond
us. But, I believe we should not withdraw from a challenge—yesterday is
not our best, our best is tomorrow.”
Harry has already raised well over £3,000; the money raised from his
skydive will go to support the work of The Salvation Army’s Anti
Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit, in particular the international
projects aiming to prevent trafficking and slavery at the source. Harry
will be jumping with members of his family; his granddaughters Lianne, 37,
and Joanna, 39, and his great-grandson Josh, 23.
Harry has previously served as the leader of The Salvation Army in both the UK and East Australia, and as Chief Secretary at The Salvation Army in Canada.
The Salvation Army United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland