Chelsea Pensioner Mike Smith (68) will be swapping his scarlet uniform for a red jumpsuit when he joins two WWII heroes on a charity parachute jump this week.
The intrepid veterans are skydiving on Thursday (August 10, weather permitting) with the Red Devils at Old Sarum airfield, near Salisbury. Remarkably, this will be Chelsea Pensioner Mike Smith’s 100th parachute jump. Mike said: “I am very excited to be taking part in this jump as it is 23 years since my last one! This will be an extra special experience to be at the home of the Red Devils Parachute Team and to jump with the WWII Veterans will be an honour.” Mike completed his first seven parachute jumps at the Joint Services Parachute Centre while he was serving in the Royal Corps of Transport. He has lived at the Royal Hospital Chelsea since January 2016. Last year, WWII veterans Fred Glover and Ted Pieri parachuted into the Merville Battery in Northern France. For Fred, this was 72 years after a blighted mission to land within its confines during the D-Day mission. Fred was a member of ‘A Company’ of the 9th Battalion, tasked with entering the Battery in glider planes. His glider was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed into an orchard outside of the Battery and he was later captured by a German patrol. The 91-year old great-grandfather will jump again on Thursday with fellow para and Arnhem veteran, Ted Pieri, also 91. This will be Ted’s third jump in two years to raise money for the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, who will be driving the war heroes in cabs from London to the Wiltshire airfield. He will be jumping alongside his granddaughter, Hayley (27) from Sidcup and London taxi driver and Taxi Charity committee member, Graham Pike.
Dick Goodwin, Vice-President of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said: “We’re often out with the vets collecting funds from the public at mainline London train and tube stations to help to support our work, which includes overseas trips, an annual day at the seaside, lunches for the veterans and extraordinary activities like these parachute jumps. "We are very grateful to Chelsea Hospital for raising money for us and to Ted and Fred for taking to the skies again." The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was voted the nation’s favourite voluntary/ charity project in the 2016 National Lottery Awards.