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Posted: 6/20/2007 2:26:59 AM EDT

Col Lloyd Neblett

Sixty-three years to the day after he dropped troops into Normandy, American former pilot Col Lloyd Neblett returned to his old airfield as a guest of honour.

Back in 1944, Col Neblett (pictured right by LA(Phot) Billy Bunting) was a pilot of a DC Dakota, flying two missions over Normandy on D-Day from his base at Merryfield – satellite airfield of RNAS Yeovilton, and still used today by the Fleet Air Arm.

And as he carried men of America’s 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment into battle that fateful day, a bundle of kit dropped from another Dakota above his aircraft landed on his wing.
The then Capt Neblett struggled to keep his Dakota from stalling as the paratroopers jumped, before he lost the battle and the aircraft dropped to just 600ft, whereupon it was raked with flak.

The German guns blasted eight feet off his right wing and shot away three feet of his aileron, but somehow the airman managed to regain control of the aircraft – the aptly-named Round Trip – and get it back to Merryfield. His efforts on June 6 1944 earned him the DFC.

Six decades later, the retired US Air Force officer was presented with photographs of Merryfield as it is now, while the RAF staged a flypast with a C17 transport aircraft.
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