It’s perhaps the most famous parachute jump in combat history—and a little French town has memorialized it, Atlas Obscura reports. On June 6, 1944, as part of the D-Day invasion, two planes accidentally deposited paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division down into the town of Sainte-Mère-Église, where occupying German soldiers captured or killed many of the U.S. soldiers. But one American paratrooper, Private John Steele, didn’t make it to the ground right away. His chute got snagged on a church steeple during descent, leaving him dangling dozens of feet up in the air..
While hanging there exposed, Steele survived by playing dead for hours. Eventually, the Germans got to him and captured him. But he later escaped captivity, and would go on to re-visit the town as an honorary citizen many times.
Today, that weird little combat story is commemorated by a parachute that hangs from one corner of the spire, and a statue of Steele dangling from his risers down the side of the church.
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