Tom Rice Revisits Normandy With The Help Of CrossFit Coronado - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Tom Rice Revisits Normandy With The Help Of CrossFit Coronado

by Kate Kennedy | Posted: Friday, July 5, 2019 10:22 am

June 6, 2019 was the 75th anniversary of D-Day. D-Day, also known as the Normandy Landings or Invasions, was part of the Allied Forces’ operation Overlord during World War II. Normandy, France was occupied by the German military, part of the Axis Powers. A force of 150,000 men from the Allied Powers invaded the small beach town. Many did not survive the invasion, and exact number of deaths is not known for sure, however the current estimation is somewhere between 4,000 and 6,000 fatalities. It is incredibly hard to track down and confirm every death from that fateful day.

Fortunately, despite many hardships, the mission was successful and the Axis Powers were pushed back, closer to Paris. The invasion is the largest seaborne invasion in history. The United States of America dropped 13,000 paratroopers early on the morning of June 6, over Normandy. Tom Rice was one of those paratroopers.

Tom Rice was born Aug. 15, 1921 in Coronado, California. He joined the military in 1943 and became a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. Since then, Rice, a Coronado resident, has actively participated in memorials, celebrations, and commemorations recognizing those who fought to stop the Axis Powers during World War II, but especially D-Day. Rice has jumped several times at different anniversary celebrations in honor of his fellow fallen soldiers. The 75th anniversary was special, however. For this jump, Rice worked with Coronado business owner, Clint Russell.

Russell has owned CrossFit Coronado, a CrossFit gym in the alley behind Boney’s, since 2010. He has a doctorate in physical therapy and is a certified CrossFit Trainer. Russell, Rice’s trainer, says, “I evaluated his weaknesses, which were right leg strength, balance, overhead range of motion, and aerobic capacity. Each session, I would quickly reevaluate him and adjust the plan depending on the findings. He would do circuits with something to keep his heart rate elevated, a lower body exercise, and an upper body exercise. We used rowing, assault biking, skiing, and carrying objects to keep his heart rate elevated.”

According to Greg Glassman, the founder of the CrossFit regime and the author of “CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide,” “The needs of grandparents and Olympic athletes differ by degree, not by kind.” This approach to training older people works with Russell’s training. “Tom needs work on balance, strength, cardio etc., just maybe not to the degree you or I do. CrossFit is the mixing of modalities across broad time and modal domains. We did exclusively CrossFit, but with a Physical therapy spin,” says Russell.

Physical therapy was used to assess Rice’s weaknesses, while CrossFit practices were used to correct those issues. Russell and Rice worked heavily on single limb, balance and core strength, overhead range of motion, lower body strength, and general conditioning. In reference to Rice’s age, Russell says, “The most important thing to remember with someone this age is mechanics, consistency, and only then intensity. I wouldn’t push someone this age, I’d let them set the pace, slow down when needed, and above all else make sure the mechanics are sound.”

Shortly after Russell began working with Rice, Russell jokingly commented that he “would love to jump out of the plane with him.”

Russell did not believe that this was a possibility, but “since I already knew how to jump, they asked the people coordinating and got me a spot on the plane.”

Russell had been in the United States Navy and done 37 jumps while in the Navy. “I went to the local drop zones and did a refresher course. I then went for my B license which required 50 jumps.”

He completed the 13 more jumps he needed in the last few months to obtain his B license through USPA (United States Parachute Association).

Russell and Rice both jumped in Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6. Rice wants to continue jumping for as long as he can. Russell said, “A British guy did it at 102, so [Tom Rice] wants to beat him! As for me, I will if I can!”

“It’s important to remember that the world came together and sacrificed so much of its youth to defeat evil. We must never forget the evil of the Axis Powers and the sacrifice of all involved,” says Russell. He is in “absolute awe of the sacrifices the people went through so long ago. Both the soldiers, and the civilians. So many did so much to help our soldiers and paid with their lives.”

Rice is one of those incredible soldiers; he jumped out of a C-47 over Normandy, 75 years ago, at the age of 22; he jumped again this year, 2019, at the age of 97. Rice has touched so many lives with his story.

Recently, he has been the focus of many news articles from CNN to NBC. Russell is one of those people whose life has changed because of Rice. Russell is never going to forget the experience he had: going to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when he jumped out of a plane along with a 97-year-old World War II veteran. This story, this experience, will carry on for years to come, because this story reaches people in a way that they remember. Hopefully, both Rice and Russell will continue jumping on future anniversaries as long as they can!