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08-10-11-uac081011001.jpg While the first official Army parachute jumpedtook place on Aug. 16, 1940, it was in Augustof 2002 that then President George W. Bushproclaimed Aug. 16, as National Airborne Day.

 

Since then, the Airborne & Special OperationsMuseum (ASOM) has celebrated the event withgusto each year. This year, National AirborneDay will be celebrated on Saturday, Aug. 13. Preceremonymusic will start at 9:30 a.m., followedby a parachute demonstration at 10 a.m., andthen the opening ceremony, which will include aperformance by the 82nd Airborne Chorus, willbegin.

 

If you can’t make it to the ceremony, don’tworry; the chorus will perform again at 11:30a.m., and 12:15 p.m.

 

The freefall exhibition just happens once,though, and it is definitely a must-see event. In thespirit of Airborne brotherhood and camaraderie,the jump team represents several airborne entities.

 

“It is a combined team,” said Paul Galloway,Executive Director for the Airborne SpecialOperations Museum Foundation. “We have theGolden Knights representing the U.S. Army; the82nd Airborne Division All-American FreefallTeam, which represents the airborne paratroopers,and the Black Daggers from USASOCrepresenting special ops.”

 

Some of the day’s activities include a specialforces ODA Team. “That stands for OperationalDetachmentA-team, which isa Special Forcesteam — it is theGreen Berets,” saidGalloway. “Theywill have their ‘toys’with them. Thatdisplay will be inthe lobby.”

 

Meet thefolks who packthe parachutesthat bring theparatroopers tosafety. They willbe doing packingdemos throughoutthe day.

 

Anotherfavorite to keep an eye out for is the 82nd AirborneDivision static display. The military police will havea display, too, which usually includes some armoredhumvees. Galloway noted that there are usuallyasurgical hospital tent and a 155 howitzer at theevent, too.

 

World War II re-enactors are usually a big hit atNational Airborne Day as well. 

 

It’s usually warm out, so plan to visit the MWRtent, where they will have snacks and refreshmentsfor sale.

 

08-10-11-airborneday.jpgIn years past, about 2,000 to 2,500 peoplewould attend. Last year though, attendance reachednearly 4,000, an occurrence that Galloway attributesto two things; “The change from last year — andthis is ongoing — is that the 18th Airborne CorpsCommander AND the Mayor invite you to the event.Now, it is a joint event with the Army and the city ofFayetteville. We also dedicated Iron Mike last year.”

 

Iron Mike’s relocation from Fort Bragg toASOM was a big deal indeed, and this year there isyet another great reason to draw big crowds — theN.C. Veterans Park that opened on July 4. “What Ihope for, is that those who come down for NationalAirborne Day will see it and will stop and enjoy it,and that they will take that experience home andshare it so more people will come,” said Galloway.“The Veteran’s Park is seeing a lot of visitors sinceit opened. What we are seeing is that a lot of peoplewho are visiting them are visiting us and vice versa,which is exactly what we want.”

 

Although the day’s events end at 3 p.m., themuseum will be open until 5 p.m. ASOM has many fine exhibits,but Galloway pointed out that some of the best exhibits are living,breathing and walking around among the museum visitors. “We’vegot great volunteers who have amazing stories,” said Galloway.“And the main thing the volunteers are asked to do is to share astory and listen to a story. Our tag line is ‘The Legend Continues.’We are an educational platform, and we want to share the exploitsof the airborne and special operations soldiers and pass along theethics and basically the characteristics of today’s military that arevery positive and very important for the young people of America toknow.”

 

Celebrate America’s heroes and our community’s paratrooperheritage everyday, but especially on Saturday Aug. 13,National Airborne Day, at ASOM. Find out more athttp://www.asomf.org/pages/news_pr_detail.php.

 

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