Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Local paratrooper jumps for D-Day anniversary

On June 6, 20-year-old Cody Strause made his first parachute jump over a foreign country as he landed in Normandy, France.

But Strause wasn't one of the veterans. The Orangefield High graduate is in the 82nd Airborne of the U.S. Army and was part of a military tribute during the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

The same airborne dropped troops over Normandy during the 1944 Allied D-Day invasion to free Europe from Nazi Germany. The 82nd had 156 men killed, 347 wounded, and 756 missing during the drop in 1944.

Janois Strause Grizzaffi is Strause's mother and she is talkative about her son, his talents and work, along with his participation in a history-making event that drew current world leaders.

Not only is Strause paratrooper, he also sings in the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus. The group travels to various concerts. Grizzaffi said Strause told her he and some of the other singers sang the division's song to some D-Day veterans. Most of those few remaining veterans are in their late 90s or past 100 years of age.

Janois Grizzaffi said Monday evening she had phone calls with her son while in was overseas. One call was when he was in Sainte- Mere-Eglise, the first town in Normandy to be freed from Nazi occupiers. At a point in the conversation, her son handed his phone to another man so he could talk to her.

She said the man told her she should be proud of her son and his accomplishments. She thanked him and asked him to pass the good word to her son's supervisor.

"I'm the commander general of the 82nd Airborne," the man replied.

Grizzaffi did not realize she was talking to Major General J. Patrick Work. Strause will now have a mother joke.

Strause also got to meet the granddaughter of World War II general George S. Patton, Helen Patton. She started a Patton sports legacy program that includes a D-Day anniversary football game.

Strause and his 82nd Airborne played against the 101st Airborne, the other paratrooper division that participated in D-Day. He was No. 81 in the game and in online video, showed some swift moves, though his team lost.

The story of the football game is that the 101st was going to participate in a Christmas Day celebratory football game in 1944 in France after the Nazis had retreated. Teams had tryouts and a couple of practices and the game was to be called the Champagne Bowl.

But the Battle of the Bulge broke out and the 101st Airborne had to quickly go back to fighting. The football game was never played.

The young paratrooper's other parents are Mark Grizzaffi and Rob Strause. He graduated from Orangefield in 2022 and his mother said he sang in the school choir. He is also plays guitars and writes songs, though his mother said he is busy doing other things now. His original works are on TikTok and other media.

Grizzaffi said her son had not indicated he was interested in the military, but in March of his senior year, he told her he had an appointment with an Army recruiter. She told him she was going with him and promised not to try to talk him out of joining. She wanted to assure the recruiter kept to the agreements.

Strause went through basic training and testing, and was chosen to go into the elite 82nd Airborne. Grizzaffi said her son turned 20 in March and the D-Day jump was his first on foreign soil.

He was expected to be back in the States by Tuesday after a stop-over in Iceland and Newfoundland.

Grizzaffi said her son hasn't decided on whether to pursue a military career, but with his success so early, she will encourage him.


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