CORONADO, Ca. – Members of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) traveled to California on December 3, 2022, to celebrate the legacy of former “Screaming Eagle” Soldier Thomas Maurice Rice, a World War II paratrooper and educator, who passed away at the age of 101.
Rice passed away on Nov. 17, 2022, at his Coronado residence, the home where he was born, on Aug. 15, 1921. Rice was committed to sacrifice early in his life, answering the call to serve in an Airborne unit from a recruitment poster. He would later be assigned to C Company, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles”. Rice was one of the Soldiers who jumped on D-Day over Normandy, France.
“Tom Rice was a man of substance. From men and women like him, we learn what it truly means to take personal responsibility of the welfare of those around you.” said Capt. Tom Nguyen 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Rice was proud of his French roots. He returned to Normandy, France, for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the historic battle that Rice courageously fought in. Rice’s legacy goes far beyond American borders. The people of Normandy are aware of Rice’s contributions to the liberation of Europe.
“Tom is not just an American hero but a French-American hero,” said Carentan, Normandy, France representative Denis van den Brink. “His contributions can never be forgotten.”
Following his service in the Army, Rice served as an educator for over four decades. He passed along the lessons he learned through his life experience, valuing the development of positive character traits to truly be successful.
Rice, a standard bearer of grit and audacity, parachuted on his 100th birthday over Coronado, landing on the beach to the applause of hundreds of spectators from the community. Rice leaves a legacy to those that come after him, showing the importance of duty to country and serving with valor.
“He became an inspiring and entertaining lecturer, deeply motivated to help future generations never forget the historical importance of World War II and the sacrifice of the men he led and fought with.” Said Mayor Pro Tempore, Mike Donovan.
In attendance representing the 101st Airborne Division was the Cologuard and Bugler, honoring Rice and his contributions to the division. Capt. Joshua Miller performed the National Anthem and Amazing Grace to conclude the ceremony.