WWII Paratrooper Finally Makes First Jump

He gets his wings more than 70 years after training

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 26, 2014 2:19 AM CDT
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(Newser) – More than 70 years after he first trained as a paratrooper, a Canadian World War II veteran has finally jumped out of a plane. Ralph Mayville, 92, served in the elite US-Canadian "Devil's Brigade" for years but was never called upon to jump. On the weekend, he did a tandem jump from 14,000 feet at a skydiving school in Ontario. "He's never been, in his mind, entitled to wear the jump wings, either the American or Canadian ones. And now this fulfills his dream, that he can wear the wings as part of his uniform," a family friend tells the CBC.

During the war, he made several amphibious landings but "we were in Italy, and there was no place to jump— unless you wanted to hit a mountain," he tells the Welland Advance. "They paid us parachute pay, but I didn’t jump. But I took the money anyway," he says, joking about the 75 cents day more than an infantryman he received. The great-grandfather, who was greeted by many younger airborne veterans when he landed, says the experience was fantastic, and his first jump may not be his last. "I'd do it tomorrow if they'd let me," he says. "I'd like to do it on my own."

Mayville, 92, served from 1940 until the war's end and was with the Devil's Brigade from 1942 to 1944.
Mayville, 92, served from 1940 until the war's end and was with the "Devil's Brigade" from 1942 to 1944.   (Shannon Martin)
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