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Making the flight from England, crossing the channel to the drop zone in Sannerville, France to commemorate the invasion of Normandy during World War II, Miles Baughman, front, and 25 other jumpers including his fellow friends and parachuters Ryan Fleischman, Ryan’s fiancée Baylee Brush behind him, and John McNichol contemplate what the airmen who originally faced this task must have experienced as they made the two-hour flight in 1944.

Miles Baughman has made many a jump from an airplane in his career with the National Guard. But none of those, according to Miles, was as incredible as the one he made just a few weeks ago to commemorate the D-Day landings 75 years ago.

He and 25 other jumpers boarded a C-47 Placid Lassie authentic World War II aircraft in England on June 5, made the two-hour flight across the English Channel and then parachuted out of the plane, landing at the drop zone in Sannerville, France.

The whole event was done to replicate the D-Day invasion that happened June 6, 1944 and to honor the tens of thousands of soldiers that parachuted into Normandy, in the hopes of retaking France from Germany during World War II.

“While I was looking forward to the jump, it was like many other jumps I have made in the past. What part of this whole experience that was the most profound to me was the flight we made across the Channel,” Miles shared. 

“It was a surreal flight from Duxford, England to Normandy, which was just shy of two hours. It gave me a lot of time to think about what those soldiers might have been thinking about as they were crossing the Channel and jumping into Nazi occupied Europe. It was an unforgettable experience and an honor to be part of the 75th anniversary of the invasion that truly changed the course of history,” he said.

For Miles, who has been jumping out of airplanes for the last 11 years, this was his 75th jump. “This jump was to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and for me, it was my 75th jump. Kind of an interesting coincidence,” he said. 

Over a year ago, a friend of Miles, Ryan Fleischman, told his close friends in the airborne community that he was planning to do the “cross Channel jump into Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. I told him I was in.” 

Only a limited number of jumpers would be allowed to make this commemorative jump, in which multiple aircraft would be used to transport the jumpers to the skies above France. 

“My wife, Marieke, said this was a once in a lifetime experience and that I really needed to do it. I am very glad I did. It was a humbling experience for sure.”

The C-47 aircraft used to make the jump was “one of the planes still operational that actually dropped paratroopers into Normandy for Operation Overlord and into Holland for Operation Market Garden 75 years ago,” Miles explained.

Miles was born and raised in Cut Bank, graduating from Cut Bank High School in 1998. He is the son of the Toni Baughman and the late Jimmy Baughman. 

Following high school graduation, he ended up going to Montana Tech for a time and eventually landed in Bozeman, which is where he found the National Guard. He signed up for duty with them in 2002 and has continued serving our country with that military branch to this day. 

“I have been in the National Guard for 17 years and am currently with the 190th Chemical Recon Detachment, 19th SFG(A) or Special Forces Group.”

When he is not on duty with the National Guard, Miles holds a full-time job at Western Montana Mental Health in Helena. That job works well in conjunction with his master’s degree studies in social work. He is taking those courses at Walla Walla University-Missoula.

While all of the day-to-day things in Miles’ life are good, there really is nothing that can compare to the commemorative jump he got to make to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day. 

“It was a thrill, that’s for sure. But above all else, it was an incredible way to commemorate the soldiers who gave so much to ensure our freedom so many years ago.”

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