In 2001, President George W. Bush created the National Airborne Day to honor our soldiers that strike from above. Organized prior to America’s entry into World War 2 their first jump came on August 16th, 1940.
Their most famed jump came on the evening before D-Day, June 5th, 1944. Their job was to jump in behind enemy lines, with limited supplies and light weapons, hold roads and bridges, and cut off reinforcements from reaching the beaches where the rest of the army would be coming ashore. When the actual invasion began, they received light reinforcement from glider troops, also considered airborne, but had to hold against all odds. Badly out numbered, scattered by winds and mistaken landmarks, the few able to fight did hold until troops from the landings reached them. These men of the 82nd and 101st Airborne performed well above expectations.
They would be called upon again during Operation Garden Market and then at the Battle of the Bulge, each time proving their worth and value. The “All American” and “Screaming Eagles” were among some of the most decorated soldiers of World War 2.
Since World War 2 the 82nd and 101st have added the 173rd to their brotherhood, serving in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. Their units are made up of Airborne,
and Special Forces.
They have earned their wings and the right to be called, “Death From Above”.
How to celebrate – Read up on our Airborne forces. See if you can find a exhibit on the Airborne in your area. Watch “The Longest Day” a movie that includes stories about the Normandy invasion.