By Richard Beranty In an effort to calm his nerves just before he jumped into Normandy on D-Day, Lud Labutka thought it might be a good idea to accept the drink being offered from the paratrooper sitting across from him on their C-47 transport as it crossed the English Channel. It didn’t matter to him at the time whether it came from a bottle of blended Scotch or from a bottle of after-shave lotion. Labutka was simply looking for a little kick to help him get over the anxiety he felt about jumping from an airplane into Nazi-occupied Europe. “There was a guy on our plane named Albert Jones,” Labutka says. “He looked over at me and said, ‘Lud, do you want a drink?’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Do you want a drink?’ I still didn’t think he had anything to drink until he pulled out a big bottle of Aqua Velva. I said, ‘You’re crazy!’ He opened it and sucked down a drink. I said to him, ‘Jones, if you’re crazy, I’m crazy, too.’ This was 20 minutes before we jumped! So I took a big drink. When I jumped into Normandy, I was heaving. I was puking on the Germans. That stuff made me sick.” History has failed to record whether Labutka’s stomach contents had any effect on enemy troops; what is certain, however, is that never again would he consider drinking after-shave for a quick buzz, just as jumping from an airplane had never crossed his mind in 1939 when he joined the Pennsylvania National Guard as a 17-year-old high school graduate. Even to thi


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