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Morris woman's son to return to D-Day reenactment in Normandy

Patricia Nelson with her son Craig J. Nelson almost immediately after he landed his parachute at Normandy in a 2014 70th anniversary of the D-Day invastion. Craig J. Nelson, a major in the Army, will again be participating in a D-Day event on Sunday, June 9, in the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. Submitted photo

Patricia Nelson of Morris was in Normandy, France, five years ago as part of the events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied landing on the beaches during World War II.

"It was amazing," Nelson said. The event was made even more memorable because Nelson's son Craig Nelson was among the paratroopers who participated in the commemorative event. Craig Nelson is a major in the 173rd Airborne. He is a commander of a unit and he's stationed in Vicenza, Italy. Nelson's son graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. As an Army Ranger, he has served nine tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her son will also participate in the 75th anniversary commemorative events this year. He will again be a paratrooper in Sunday, June 9, event.

"He was so honored to be chosen," Nelson said. "This is something you are chosen for."

Five years ago, Nelson went to France with her daughter Michelle (Kirwin) Lelewica and son in law and her sisters Marilyn (Lesmeister) Mathias and Sheila (Lesmeister) Ronhovde.

"Everything over there is left in its natural state," Nelson said. "We were on top, in a grassy area. You can see the Nazi concrete bunkers. They are all destroyed but the (remains) are still there."

"We were sitting in a cow pasture waiting for the planes to come," Nelson said.

Surrounded by evidence of W.W. II, Nelson and her family members eventually heard the rumble of war planes. "Pretty soon, (paratroopers) were coming out. So many paratroopers. I knew my son was one of them. It was so exciting," Nelson said.

Nelson's son is very tall. "We could almost tell which paratrooper was him because he was so much longer than others," she said.

Nelson also noted the W.W.II veterans seated on the beach during and after the event. "It was unbelievable," she said.

"It was so exciting to see the residents of France with American flags everywhere," Nelson said. The residents also held signs that said "Thank you America," she said. "It was great to see all that gratitude from the French people for our military and the other Allied troops that saved them."

Nelson was not in France for this year's commemorative event. Her youngest son Corey did attend the event.

"I talked to (Craig) just the other day before he left from Italy," Nelson said."He told me, 'Mom, the exciting part five years ago is that you were there. This year my brother and firstborn child will see me...'"

Nelson knows it will be a special and memorable event for the family.