77th National Airborne Day

| August 16, 2017 | 68 Comments


That’s COB6 giving you the six minute warning above.

National Airborne Day is set on the day of the first parachute jump conducted by the Army’s Parachute Test Platoon on August 16th, 1940.

On the morning of 16 August 1940 the jump began. After the C-33 leveled off at 1500 feet and flew over the jump field, Lt. Ryder was in the door ready to jump. Warrant Officer Wilson knelt in the door waiting to pass the Go Point. When this was reached, he slapped Lt. Ryder on the leg and the first jump was made. Now Number One moved into position. Slap! “Go! Jump!”

Still no movement.

It was too late now to jump on this pass. Mr. Wilson motioned Number One to go back to his seat. As the plane circled Mr. Wilson talked to Number One. Number One wanted another chance. Okay, this time we’ll do it. Back into the jumping position and once again, slap!

Sadly, no movement. Number One returned to his seat.

Private William N. “Red” King moved into the jumping position in the door. Slap! Out into American military immortality leaped Red King… the first enlisted man of the test platoon to jump out of an airplane. Number One was transferred to another post and anonymity. Now there were forty-seven. Was Number One a coward? I don’t think many experienced jumpers would say so. There are things some men cannot do at a given time. Possibly another time would have been fine. He wanted to. He intended to. He just could not… at least that morning.

The first US airborne operation was in support of Operation Torch, November 1942, in North Africa when 531 members of the 2nd Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment flew 1600 miles in 39 C-47s, of which only ten aircraft dropped their pacs, the rest landed because of navigation difficulties and low fuel.

3rd Battalion, 75th Rangers secured an airfield in Kandahar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on October 19, 2001. On March 23rd, 2003, A Company, 3/75th conducted an airborne operation to secure an airfield in Northern Iraq a few days before the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into Northern Iraq when the Turks wouldn’t allow the 4th Infantry Division to off-load and invade Iraq from their borders.

In years past, the 82d Airborne Division Association, mostly the DC Chapter, had to lobby to get recognition for National Airborne Day from the Senate every year, until 2009 when the Senate made it permanent.

We used to get a Presidential Proclamation every year, but for some reason, we haven’t had any since 2008.

That’s me, on my ass as usual, in the days before Eric Shinseki;

Category: Historical

Comments (68)

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  1. Roh-Dog says:

    You dirty, nasty Legs! Do push ups!

    • SFC D says:

      Sorry, P3 profile. How about some overhead claps? 😉

      Congrats, all you airborne types!

    • Joseph Williams says:

      No I am not ! I am one of the most hated and loved in war. I pick you grunts and take to the emeny(that’s the hate). I bring you water,eats,bullets and take your WIAs and KIAs and finally you grunts out(the love part). For I am a rotorhead. Joe

      • Roh-Dog says:

        I got love for stick jockeys.
        I don’t know how you guys do it… 6 million parts heading in generally the same direction.
        The ‘theory’ of flight.
        And on a somber note, RIP to the air crew lost at Keana Point, Hawaii.
        Tropic Lightning.

  2. sj says:

    My mama was a leg.

  3. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    It takes a special type of person to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft…

  4. Commissar says:

    All the way!

  5. Sapper3307 says:

    Lets meet up at Sicily North.

  6. JacktheJarhead says:

    Happy Jumping out of airplanes using a low bid piece of equipment Day. You are Braver and crazier than I am.

    Nice Picture Jonn.

  7. Cowpill says:

    Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door, jump right out and count to four!

  8. Skyjumper says:

    Lean back in your chair, close your eyes and enjoy!


  9. SSG E says:

    Feet and knees together, Airborne!!!!!

  10. Ole Herk Driver says:

    Just for today, we will skip the low-level and go direct to the IP. Green Light! 😎✈️

  11. Doc Savage says:

    Happy A-Day to all you jumping adrenalin junkies…..I have nothing but the utmost respect for you.

  12. sj says:

    There were ulterior motives to jumping: $110/month extra when base pay for 2LT in ’63 was $222.30!

    Serving with outstanding Troopers: Priceless!

  13. IDC SARC says:

    Up Out Open Down

    So easy, even a Corpsman can do it. 🙂

  14. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Paratroopers ! ! !

    God bless all of you guys!

    I never jumped, but I’m proud to have served in the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) when I was in the old Republic of Viet Nam.

    My father never jumped, either, but he was among the cadre that reactivated the 101st Airborne Division at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky.

  15. Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

    I Parachuted from the Coney Island parachute jump back in 1955. Do I qualify????

    • just some feller says:

      Hey, I did the same at Ft. Benning around 1958. They hooked up the bench to the 250′ tower on Armed Forces Day. I also got to jump from the 30′ tower …. well, they probably hooked us up a bit closer to the ground? It’s just a blur.

      I did get a Junior Paratrooper certificate … wish I still had that! I’d frame it and put it above my Airborne School certificate.

  16. I would post my YOU TUBE video of me singing, “BALLAD OF THE GREEN BERET”, but I don’t know how to do it.

  17. just some feller says:

    My dad got his wings in 1948 — completed all of his jumps in 1947, but bad weather delayed their GLIDER rides.
    He was:
    505 (from machine gunner up to youngest 1SG)
    77th SFG (Team Sgt)
    then OCS; around 1963:
    * 1st SFG
    * 6th SFG
    * 5th SFG
    * Training Group
    * Advisor to 11th Regiment, Kings Own Bodyguards (Thailand).

    Me? I only have two additional jumps that I got at Camp Mackall in ’83 while trying to follow in his footsteps. They were much too large for me, those footsteps.

  18. Mick says:

    Congrats to the Airborne!

    Semper Fidelis.

  19. Former 13D says:


    “On 23 October 1918, during the Meuse offensive, Maj John H. Wallace, commander of the 1st 319th FA, was adjusting fire from a balloon. The balloon was shot down by a Bodne airplane and Maj Wallace was forced to bail out. Maj Wallace made a successful descent by parachute and is remembered as the first person in the 82d to make a parachute jump.”

  20. Toasty Coastie says:

    Damn Jonn you sho was a cutie 😀

  21. Ex-PH2 says:

    This is 11+ minutes of footage from WWII’s Operation Market Garden, which included paratrooper drops and gliders. The birds with stripes on the fuselage ahead of the tail are the CG-4a gliders, troops/equipment carriers.

    There’s also a 1946 ‘Theirs Was the Glory’ which dramatizes this event.

    • At the very beginning of the film, I was interested to see them assembling their hand grenades before going into battle.

      We didn’t have to do that.

      Our hand grenades came in sealed black cardboard cans, and all you had to do was open the can, take out the grenade, and fasten it to your web gear, ready for use.

      • Jeff LPH 3, 63-66 says:

        When we used to Med Moor in Gitmo Bay, Cuba, I got the Starboard motor whale boat watch as the boat engineer and one of the gunners mates rode with us as we went in circles around the OKIE 3 in case of someone trying to plant a mine on the hull. He had a box of the old pineapple grenades which were in those round black card board boxes. I think there was a thin piece of string or wire with a little loop on the end that one had to pull around the container to open it up. These memories are over 50 years old so some of the stuff are vague. I also remember he brought an M 1 Garand on the boat.

  22. Sparks says:

    Most fun I ever got paid to have.

  23. Thunderstixx says:

    Great another excuse for the damn Airborne to show off yet again…
    Shine up those jump boots and get ready to hit the silk…

  24. In his autobiography, “SERGEANT NIBLEY, PH.D.”, Professor Hugh Nibley (now deceased), who served in the 101st Airborne Division during the Second World War, tells of the planes and gliders taking off for the D-Day invasion.

    The guys who prepared the gliders were gathered around drunk and laughing as the planes took off, for they were jealous that they were being left behind and wouldn’t get the chance to be heroes.

    In their drunken jealousy, they had deliberately sabotaged some of the gliders, causing them to fall apart in mid-air, resulting in the deaths of many 101st Airborne paratroopers.

  25. Rich says:

    At 2015Z March 26, 2003, Air Force history was made when members of the 86 CRG, including 18 jumpers from the 786 SFS (14 of which were SF. In addition there was 1 medic, 1 intel, 1 Fuels, and 1 CE also in the SFS, as they are a multi-AFSC 16 squadron) under command of Major Erik Rundquist, made the first Air Force combat parachute assault along with about 1,000 paratroopers of the Army‘s 173 Airborne Brigade onto Bashur Airfield in mountainous northern Iraq. This was also the first combat jump made from the C-17 Globemaster transport and was the largest airborne assault since Operation JUST CAUSE in 1989.

  26. Pete McMullen says:

    One of the proudest days of my life was the day I earned my Parachute badge. I’m glad they finally Jumped in and gave us a day.

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