Service & Sacrifice: Gliding into D-Day

A World War II veteran from East Tennessee is about to make a return trip the French countryside he "glided" into 70 years ago on D-Day.

"I'm lucky I came home alive," said Clinton Riddle, the 93-year-old native of Sweetwater who will return to Normandy in early June with his daughter as his escort.

The former radioman was a member of a glider unit that coasted over the English Channel and crash-landed almost 14 miles behind enemy lines on the morning of the Allied invasion in 1944. Within minutes of landing, Mr. Riddle says his unit was under fire.

"We fought for 33 days and nights without relief; it was on the go all the time," recalled Mr. Riddle.

The self-described "farm boy" from East Tennessee celebrated the 50th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy. On that trip he says he found the remnants of a foxhole where he dug in to avoid incoming fire and he snapped a photo of the clump of trees his glider crashed into when he first touched down on the first day of the fight.

"As far as I know, I am the only one from my company returning," said Mr. Riddle.

On the eve of his return trip for the 70th anniversary ceremonies, Riddle says he hopes to connect with friends and family, including any relatives of the French farmer who offered him a canteen full of warm milk once the shooting died down after his rough landing.

"I had warm milk for breakfast. It wasn't strained but had milk for breakfast (D-Day)."

WEB EXTRA: Another piece we produced on Mr. Riddle in 2010


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