Marguerite goes skydiving from 13,500 feet
Born in Normandy, France, Marguerite Miller had a front-row seat to the unfathomable events and living conditions spurred on by World War II. At one of the most pivotal points in human history, Marguerite experienced first-hand what it was like to have the German invaders change her family’s life forever.
When Germany invaded France in the early 1940s, Marguerite’s father was taken to an internment camp just outside of Paris. And by the age of 16, her entire family had been imprisoned. After six months of mistreatment and uncertainty about the future, Marguerite, along with her mother and sisters, was released from the camp. Unfortunately, her father continued to be held for the entire duration of the war.
After their release, Marguerite and her mother and sister were clouded by the control of the German invaders. They were not allowed to return home and were forced to stay in Paris, remaining under strict surveillance. Having very meager means and little income, their family moved in with a friend, Maud Couve.
Then came a choice that would shape the course of Marguerite’s life. In 1943, Marguerite’s mother Alice Bourard and Maud Couve made the courageous decision to join the French Resistance.
As members of the resistance, their role was to hide American and allied airmen who had been shot down over France. The bold escape of these airmen, parachuting out of their damaged and burning planes, amazed Marguerite. They would house two airmen at a time, sometimes staying for several weeks in the apartment they all shared while arrangements would be made for them to escape to England.
They had to be meticulous and intentional with every move, acquiring fake papers and proper clothing for the airmen to make a successful getaway. It was a dangerous position to be in, as they were still living under scrutiny from German authorities. They were required to report to them daily and often experienced random home searches in the middle of the night.
When the war concluded and France was liberated from the occupation, this season of Marguerite’s life came to an end. However, when her family made their long-awaited return home to Normandy, they found nothing. The war had wreaked havoc and left very little in its wake.
To rebuild their lives and begin taking back all that the war had taken from them, Marguerite’s family moved to New Jersey to be closer to extended family. And for her heroism, Marguerite’s mother received distinguished awards from the American and British governments.
Years later, this brave and honorable part of Marguerite’s life came full circle when she met her late husband, a World War II Veteran. As fate would have it, the pair met at an Air Force Escape and Evasion Society reunion.
Her husband had been a pilot saved by his parachute escape and the hospitality of members of the French Resistance. Even though they had not met during the war, their war experiences created an intangible and deeply meaningful bond between them.
Though filled with challenges and adversity, Marguerite’s courageous history sparked a dream within her to parachute out of a plane. More than just an exhilarating experience, she felt this would be the closest way to step into the shoes of the men her family protected decades ago.
Wish of a Lifetime was honored to send Marguerite skydiving on October 26th, 2018. When Red Bull heard of Marguerite’s incomparable story of heroic actions and resilience, they knew they couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to be a part of her wish. Professional skydivers Amy Chmelecki and Sean MacCormac were ecstatic to take to the blue skies alongside this brave individual.
Marguerite reveled in the opportunity to have her wish come true to parachute out of a plane and to honor the sacrifices her family made, along with the collective efforts of the French Resistance.
Standing on the edge of the plane at 13,500 feet, Marguerite put herself in the shoes of the brave men who made their descent into France many decades ago. With her heart pounding and a memory reel flipping through her mind, she stepped off the edge and soared through the sky.
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