Watch 'Band of Brothers' Cast Members Jump into Normandy for D-Day's 80th Anniversary

Cast members of the 2001 HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers" after making a static line jump into La Fiere Drop Zone in Normandy, France on June 3, 2024. From left to right, Christian Black, George Calil, Alex Sabga-Brady, Rene Moreno and Nolan Hemmings. (New War Productions)

NORMANDY, France -- It's early June, and Normandy is teeming with thousands of paratroopers. Paratroopers walk the streets, drive the roads, and fill the skies of the French countryside. Nearly eight decades after the end of World War II, paratroopers old and young, active and retired, from across Europe and North America, have converged here to honor and commemorate the men who jumped into Nazi-occupied France during the D-Day invasion on the morning of June 6, 1944.

Among those jumping to mark the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord were six cast members from the 2001 HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers." They had prepared specifically for this moment, training at Camp Toccoa, Georgia, just like the men of Easy Company, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the 101st Airborne Division did before their historic jump into Normandy.

On June 3, the morning of the jump, the fog lifted to reveal a cool, spring day over Normandy. Before the sun fully rose, a World War II-era C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft named "Placid Lassie" came flying into relatively clear, blue skies to drop its cargo onto La Fiere drop zone: two "sticks" of around 36 static-line qualified paratroopers. The "Band of Brothers" actors were the first out the door.

    Footage of the actors’ Normandy jump was collected as part of a nonprofit documentary, "The Jump: From Currahee to Normandy," a collaboration between New War Productions and Echelon Media. The documentary follows the cast members from their training at Camp Toccoa to the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

    "There aren't any surviving members of Easy Company left anymore, and we are, in a way, the face of those men who have now gone," Alex Sabga-Brady, who portrayed Francis J. Mellet in the series, told "A lot of people see us that way, and I didn't really realize that until I came to Normandy. That's when I really started to understand the responsibility we have."

    In the process of training for the jump, the "Brothers," as the actors are called by both locals and paratroopers in Normandy, became the first paratroopers trained at Camp Toccoa since World War II. With help from the nonprofit All Airborne Battalion, which trains veterans and civilians to make static-line jumps while supporting veteran causes, they became fully qualified paratroopers.

    Sabga-Brady was accompanied by Mark Lawrence (William Dukeman), George Calil (James Alley), Christian Black (Walter Hendrix), Nolan Hemmings (Charles E. Grant) and Rene Moreno (Joseph Ramirez). Cast members Douglas Spain (Antonio "Tony" Garcia), Tim Matthews (Alex M. Penkala), Peter McCabe (Donald B. Hoobler) and Nicholas Aaron (Robert "Popeye" Wynn) also traveled to France to support them.

    "This is something we have to carry, and we have to continue," Sabga-Brady said. "We have to make sure this doesn't die. These guys died once, and they should never die again; their memories should continue, and we take that very seriously."

    "Band of Brothers" cast members jump from the C-47 Skytrain "Placid Lassie" over La Fiere drop zone in Normandy, France on June 3, 2024. (New War Productions)

    Those in the cast who couldn't make the jump not only came out to support their "brothers," but to ensure the real-life soldiers they once portrayed on screen are remembered for their heroism. In conversations with, many of the actors said they fully intend to carry on the same traditions other paratroopers from World War II have maintained for decades. To a man, they echoed the same sentiment: to keep saying the veterans' name and keep their memories alive.

    "That's the purpose of this project, the sole purpose of it is to keep the memory alive," Lawrence told "I want to get his name out as much as I can. I ran the London Marathon with 'Dukeman' on the back of my marathon shirt. I want people to ask me. 'Your name's Mark, then why do you have Dukeman on the back of your shirt?' 'I'll tell you why. There was this guy from Colorado who went over to Normandy and he fought there for you. He gave his life for you. I want you to understand who he is.'"

    Actor Mark Lawrence, who portrayed Cpl. William H. Dukeman Jr. in 'Band of Brothers,' presents his tattoo of Dukeman's service number. (New War Productions)
    Actor Mark Lawrence, who portrayed Cpl. William H. Dukeman Jr. in 'Band of Brothers,' presents his tattoo of Dukeman's service number. (New War Productions)

    "There are two men in my life who mean a lot to me: my father and Tony Garcia," Spain, who spent time with Garcia before the veteran died in 2005, told " I know Tony's watching over me. I know he is. He would be really proud."

    "I jumped with his [Joseph Ramirez's] picture, you know. It sounds corny but I just felt like it was necessary. It's an homage to him," Moreno told "I want to keep his name alive. When I landed, I felt around and touched his picture, and it was still there. it was like, 'Whew, OK, we're safe.'"

    After the jump, the "Band of Brothers" cast continued on in their airborne garb to visit with locals, reenactors, or the thousands of tourists and real-world service members from modern-day allied nations who flocked to Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. They even stopped off at Utah Beach to visit Le Roosevelt, a pub on Utah Beach named for Medal of Honor recipient Teddy Roosevelt Jr., to have a drink with fans.

    The "Band of Brothers" cast stops by Le Roosevelt on Utah Beach for a drink with fans. From left to right: George Calil, Christian Black, Rene Moreno, Alex Sabga-Brady, Nolan Hemmings and Nicholas Aaron. ( Stilwell)

    The cast hope to continue and expand its efforts to continue the traditions of World War II paratroopers in Normandy for years to come. The full story of their jump, from training and qualification to jumping into Normandy on D-Day, is currently the subject of a nonprofit documentary, "The Jump: From Currahee to Normandy."

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