World War II Paratrooper Vet Finally Makes First Jump
Ralph Mayville, a World War II veteran who was part of an elite special forces unit, finally made his first jump out of a plane at the age of 92.By Katherine Biek | May 26, 2014
One Canadian World War II veteran felt as if he finally earned his wings Saturday, about 70 years after the war ended.
Ralph Mayville was a member of the elite First Special Service Force, a group nicknamed the Black Devils. According to its website, the group, which was started in 1942 and disbanded two years later, was a "joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit." (Via U.S. Signal Corps / Library and Archives Canada)
Throughout his time in the war, Mayville was stationed in France and Holland and received numerous medals and honors for his efforts. But CTV says there was one medal he never felt he had earned the right to wear.
REPORTER: "He received a set of wings in 1945 for his contribution as a paratrooper. There's only one problem. He never jumped."
MAYVILLE: "I figured you have to make a parachute jump in order to wear them."
For his unit, Mayville had to be prepared for anything. According to the First Special Service Force Living History Group, the Black Devils "received the most rigorous training schedule (under live fire) ever undertaken by an American Army unit. ... intense training as paratroopers, ski troops, mountain fighters, demolition experts, amphibious forces and hand-to-hand combat experts."
But Mayville simply never had to jump. Now, at 92 years old, Mayville decided it was time to finally earn the right to proudly display those wings. And CBC was there to capture the entire thing.
Mayville tandem-jumped out of a plane more than 14,000 feet in the air at a skydiving school near Niagara Falls Saturday.
The Welland Tribune says that when Mayville landed, other airborne veterans and Mayville's family members were on hand to celebrate. One of those men, Marv Doney, even presented Mayville with his wings.
And to make things even sweeter, in 2013, U.S. Congress passed a bill to award a congressional medal to the First Special Service Force. Coin Update says that special medal is currently in the production process.
As for Mayville? He's just ready to jump again, telling the Welland Tribune that next time he wants to do it all by himself.