On August 16, 1940, 48 volunteer members of the U.S. Army Parachute Test Platoon performed the first official U.S. military parachute jump at Fort Benning, Georgia. Today, the date is celebrated as National Airborne Day, a day to honor the U.S. Airborne Forces.
After the first jump, a large force of more 100,000 paratroopers was formed and assigned to the 11th 13th, 17th, 82d, and 101st Airborne Divisions, which fought in every theater during World War II, according to the Department of Defense. Parachutes were an innovative technique used by the Allied Forces, enabling them to deploy troops behind enemy lines. Parachute assaults were key to the US military’s success in the battles for Sicily, Salerno, and D-Day. During the operation into Holland in September, 1944, the airborne forces secured all of their objectives.
Building on the success of the airborne divisions in WWII, the United States military continued to develop this means of enveloping the enemy from above. This approach grew to include Ranger and Special Forces units in the Army, and airborne organizations in the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy. Airborne forces have made combat jumps in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. A number of our HFOT Veterans were serving in airborne units when they were injured.
In 2002, President George W. Bush proclaimed August 16 to be National Airborne Day stating: “Airborne combat continues to be driven by the bravery and daring spirit of sky Soldiers. Often called into action with little notice, these forces have earned an enduring reputation for dedication, excellence, and honor. As we face the challenges of a new era, I encourage all people to recognize the contributions of these courageous Soldiers to our Nation and the world.”
Homes For Our Troops honors the legacy of paratroopers past and present for their bravery and courage.
Keep your feet and knees together!