FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Streets, buildings, monuments, and barracks are some of the many structures that make up the 82nd Airborne Division footprint on Fort Bragg. Each structure holds a name that honors the history of the “All American” Division.
The 82nd Abn. Div. war memorial museum is the core center of the Division`s remembrance with artifacts and memorials that honor those who sacrificed their lives in conflict.
Veterans, Gold Star Families, and Paratroopers slowed down the fast pace of All American Week to remember those who gave their full measure of devotion for their country, not at the hands of the enemy, but in preparation for combat operations.
“Training for combat is an inherently risky and dangerous business,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Winski, deputy commanding general of the 82nd Abn. Div. “Paratroopers that perish during training are no less significant than those lost in combat.”
On May 25, 2016, a new memorial recognizing those lost during training joined the other shrines of Paratroopers who have given their lives in nine different conflicts.
May 25, 2016 - Maj. Gen. Richard Clarke and Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Green, 82nd Airborne Division commanding general and command sergeant major, and 82nd Abn. Div. Association leaders unveil a new monument dedicated to the Paratroopers who lost their lives while conducting combat training during a memorial ceremony at the 82nd Abn. Div. War Memorial Museum on Fort Bragg, NC. Families, friends, and veteran Paratroopers paid their respects and honored their fallen comrades. The new monument featured more than 220 names, all training casualties. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder)
“Last year, a mother of a Paratrooper [Sgt. Shaina Schmigel], who was at Sicily Drop Zone, inspired me as she was planting a rose where her daughter had died during an Airborne operation,” said Maj. Gen. Richard Clarke, commanding general of the 82nd Abn. Div. “I hope today that this monument will help us remember all those lost during our division`s training history.”
Before the crowd sits a symbolic parachute canopy draped over a memorial wall. The 82nd Abn. Div. band plays traditional harmonies for the color guard to march to while nine representatives and descendants of historical conflicts walk the path honoring those who have served, fought or fallen.
The parachute is lifted and unveils the new granite wall, engraved with more than 230 Paratrooper names from the last 75 years.
The wall bears the names of those lost in training fatalities, so they will not be forgotten.
Gen. (Ret.) Dan McNeill, a former Division commanding general, and guest speaker for the ceremony, recalled the events that transpired at Pope Air Force Base in 1994 known as the Green Ramp Tragedy. A mid-air collision and subsequent ground collision cost the lives of 24 Paratroopers. Sgt. Daniel Price, a Paratrooper with 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, sacrificed his life to save a Paratrooper he had never met before.
Spc. Estella Wingfield, an information systems operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 525th Military Intelligence Brigade at the time, recalls in a report, “He looked me in the eye, grabbed me by the shirt, threw me several feet in the air and jumped on top of me.... An instant later, I heard the blast, felt the extreme heat from the explosion and the debris falling on us.... After the explosion and the rounds stopped going off, he whispered in my ear, ‘Crawl out from underneath me.' I did and took off running. He saved my life.”
May 25, 2016 - The 82nd Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade color guard salutes for the National Anthem during a memorial ceremony to unveil a new monument dedicated to the Paratroopers who lost their lives while conducting combat training at the 82nd Abn. Div. War Memorial Museum on Fort Bragg, NC. Families, friends, and veteran Paratroopers paid their respects and honored their fallen comrades. The new monument featured more than 220 names, all training casualties. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Anthony Hewitt)
More than just Family attended to see the names of their loved ones. Friends that have served with those lost made the trip to All American Week to honor their ‘jump buddies.'
Peter Forthofer, a former staff sergeant with the 307th Engineer Battalion, attends All American Week to pay his respects to his friend, Staff Sgt. Michael Moore, who was lost during a mass airborne operation in 1982 at Fort Irwin, California.
“The winds were extremely high that day, but it`s still what we do,” said Forthofer. “ You would be lucky to get three words out of him, but he loved the 82nd [Airborne Division] and would`ve been upset if he did not get to jump that day. So he was still doing what he loved until the end.”
Clarke says that this memorial is important because it`s a part of the Division`s history. Paratroopers, Families, and careers will move on. However, the memorial will always be here. “This is something we can always come back to.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. Anthony Hewitt
Provided through DVIDS
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