World War II veteran celebrates important milestone by sky diving

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KGO) -- A World War II veteran in the South Bay is putting a daring exclamation point on a 70-year-old experience. He's going sky diving on his birthday to commemorate the day he was shot down over Europe back when he was just 19 years old.

Inside Thomas Boyd's Sunnyvale home, his wall offers glimpses of a different time.

As a World War II veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, this retired master sergeant joined the Air force when he was just 19. "I knew I was going to stay, I had made up my mind. I was going to stay in the military because I liked it," Boyd said.

He turns 89 on Saturday and plans to parachute over a field in Byron. But the day itself has more meaning than meets the eye because it's a flashback to December 20, 1944, which is the last time he jumped out of a plane.

Boyd was inside a B-24 that was shot down by the Germans. They bailed out over Yugoslavia and then made a four-day trek by foot to safety. "We walked at night and we got to an English mission and we stayed at a mission, they contacted Italy and Italy sent an airplane over to pick us up," he said.

Boyd went on to fly a total of 26 missions and served 22 years in the Air Force before retiring in 1966.

He wants today's youth to understand that freedom isn't free. "You may have to do things that you don't, wouldn't ordinarily do. We're doing that to protect our shores and our way of life," Boyd said.

His daughter Cindy serves as a lieutenant colonel and will be joining her dad on Saturday's jump. "Dad's always taken good care of me and I'm kind of scared about this even though I've done it one time before. I am scared about it even though he's not," she said.

He's an adventurous spirit and an undeniable legacy. "I'm excited for it because she's going to be with me," Boyd said.
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