JUPITER, Fla. — On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a Jupiter veteran gets the opportunity of a lifetime.
Chung Wong — who served as a paratrooper in Desert Storm and is now a businessman in Jupiter — jumped from a plane over the skies of Normandy on Wednesday as part of a unique tribute.
“I’d like to thank everyone for the support,” he told WPTV on Thursday via FaceTime while he was still in Northern France.
“It’s sobering,” he said, adding how surreal the moment was. “It helps us keep the legacy.”
Wong was one of 250 paratroopers selected around the world to be a part of a massive tribute honoring the brave soldiers of the D-Day invasion of 1944. Called Daks Over Normandy, the event recreated the journey and harrowing mission of paratroopers for the D-Day invasion.
“Sad part is a lot of these veterans are disappearing every day. They didn’t just save the countries, they saved the world,” he said. “I’d like to thank every veteran for every war."
Born and raised in West Palm Beach, Wong himself served in the 82nd airborne division and the XVIII Airborne Corps, serving in the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to 1991. During the Gulf War, Wong received a promotion as a sergeant, earned the National Defense Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal and Army Achievement Medal.
After leaving the military in 1991, he attended Florida State University, graduating with a degree in Finance. He is now a registered principal for Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. in Jupiter and the future office in Alton Town Center in Palm Beach Gardens.
It had been 25 years since he last jumped out of a plane so of course, he trained a little bit here in Florida before he left. He trained at the National Parachute Testing Center in Dunnellon, Florida, with over 100 fellow paratroopers from around the world.
“It’s not an easy drop, the drops are usually pretty hard,” he said.
Clad in a WWII uniform, Wong flew from the United Kingdom over the English Channel in on of 35 C-47s, carrying special items like a scarf from a local veteran and a coin from the World Trade Center.
“I also had a bible from a WWII veteran,” he said.
When he jumped, he didn’t land exactly where he intended.
“Unfortunately I was dropped about a quarter mile away from the actual site I was supposed to be,” he said.
Luckily, he and a few others landed in a farm field of wheat.
“I had one of my softest landings,” he said.
And he was greeted by a group of French locals, eager to take pictures with the paratroopers and offer them help back to the site.
“I think I have a habit of doing that because last time I did a practice jump, I landed in trees and I was about 30 feet up in the air,” he joked.
Wong’s family watched the tribute from the ground, an experience he hopes his daughters will take with them for generations to come.
“As long as we remember history and what happened, it has a less chance of repeating itself again,” he said.