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Tom Rice, national treasure and World War II veteran, dead at age 101

CBS 8 learned that Tom Rice, a World War II Screaming Eagle legend of the 101st Airborne, died Thursday at age 101.

SAN DIEGO — Tom Rice, a World War II Screaming Eagle legend of the 101st Airborne, died Thursday at age 101, according to Honor Flight San Diego.

"It is hard when we lose our heroes, and today we lost a member of the Greatest Generation who was one of our first WWII veterans to go on their Honor Flight. Today, at 101 years young, we lost WWII U.S. Army D-Day Paratrooper Tom Rice," Honor Flight San Diego shared on Facebook.

Rice told cameras he couldn’t be more grateful for the support for veterans given by Honor Flight San Diego as he and his buddies boarded an aircraft to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Rice told CBS 8 he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. 

"They threw chaos at us, I mean chaos," said Rice, who was dropped behind enemy lines. 

Tom was wounded four times but kept going back for more.

"Well, I didn't ask for it, haha. I got in the way of it," joked Rice.

On Aug. 15, 2021, World War II veteran Rice kicked off his 100th birthday celebration.

Rice and the U.S. Navy parachute team, “Leap Frogs,” jumped out of a plane at Hotel Del Coronado. 

"Today, he took his final jump. He was deeply loved by all of us with Honor Flight San Diego and will be missed by all who knew him. He was a charismatic, charming, funny, humble American hero who saved us all, and he will never be forgotten," Honor Flight officials said.

When asked, Rice said he has some words of wisdom for young San Diegans.

"Stand up, make a decision, and stick with it,” said Rice.

Rice's wife asked that instead of flowers, his friends, family, and supporters send a donation to Honor Flight San Diego in Rice's memory. 

CBS 8 thanks Rice for his service to our county.

WATCH RELATED: World War II veteran celebrates 100th birthday with Coronado plane jump (2021)


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