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Band of Brothers actors train where it began in Toccoa to parachute for D-Day anniversary

To honor the 80th anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy, actors from the HBO series “Band of Brothers” are training in northeastern Georgia to make a historic parachuting jump.

For D-Day members of the cast are recreating the life-changing moment for the real World War II soldiers they played: jumping into the Cotentin Peninsula.

To gear up, they are following in the footsteps of the paratroopers who went through basic training at Camp Toccoa in northeastern Georgia. The actors already went through boot camp and parachute training while preparing for their roles in the show, but this is the first time they’ll be making a real jump from a C-47.

Band of Brothers actor Alex Sabga-Brady goes through paratrooper training at Camp Toccoa

Alex Sabga-Brady, who played Corporal Francis J. Mellet, said the jump is an amazing experience - but it’s not for fun. He is thinking about what Mellet went through back on June 6, 1944 and in the following months.

“My character, he was killed in action in Foy, 1945, 13th of January,” Sabga-Brady said. “He died once and I’ll never let him die twice.”

“What’s really important is that more people know about it,” said Nolan Hemmings who played Staff Sergeant Charles E. Grant. “That’s why Band of Brothers is such an amazing series. It really brings home the truth about the men and what they did, what they went through, how they unified, how they worked together, they fought together, and how they prevailed.”

Band of Brothers actor Nolan Hemmings gears up for parachute training at Camp Toccoa

Almost everyone who stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944 has since passed away, something that worries Sabga-Brady and Hemmings for the future.

“Very soon, there will not be any of these guys left,” Sabga-Brady said. “And when that happens, we have to continue this. Otherwise, it will disappear and we can’t let that happen. And that’s that’s why we’re doing this.”

“The whole reason we are here is to honor them,” Hemmings said. “We honor their memory and we honor what it meant, you know, what it meant to the world, what they did and what everyone did in the Second World War.”

They’re training with a D-Day veteran, the Placid Lassie. The 1943 Douglas C-47 Skytrain carried paratroopers of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division to Normandy for the invasion. Eight decades later, the Placid Lassie will carry the ‘Band of Brothers’ team back to France for their jump.

The warbird now belongs to the Tunison Foundation, a nonprofit based out of New York named for Ed Tunison, the original radio operator aboard the aircraft. Pilot Justin Zgoda with the Tunison Foundation said he grew up watching World War II documentaries so flying the Placid Lassie is a privilege and an honor.

“It’s wonderful to remember the Greatest Generation and everything they sacrificed,” Zgoda said. “The world progresses, people tend to forget and people are slowly forgetting World War II and everything the Greatest Generation sacrificed.”

If you want to see the Placid Lassie for yourself, click here for the list of upcoming touring events.

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