I'm kinda disapointed that there are no photos available of this online from the local paper. Local paper is kinda crappy that way. THe pics are from the Milwaukee Jounal Sentinal.
I was stuck at work or I'd have been out there with a camera..link
82nd Airborne drops in on Racine -- Members of Army division land at Batten
By Rachel McCormick
RACINE - More than 100 members of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division invaded Batten International Airport Thursday to kick off the division's 59th annual national convention.
Approximately 105 paratroopers jumped from C-130 airplanes that soared about 850 feet in the air. Three paratroopers received minor injuries upon landing, said Lt. Col. Michael Peterson.
Three planes flew past the airfield on three occasions each, releasing paratroopers. It took each trooper approximately 2 minutes to reach the ground.
The paratroopers landed in the "Wobler Drop Zone," named after Staff Sgt. Zachary Wobler, a member of the 82nd who was killed last year in Iraq.
The 82nd Airborne Division Association's 59th National Convention will continue through Sunday in Milwaukee at the Four Points Sheraton near General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee. The annual convention attracts about 1,100 veteran and active paratroopers from all over the
Convention attendees have taken part in combat drops in Sicily, Normandy and Holland, as well more recent deployments to Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The division is based in Fort Bragg, N.C.
Amanda Christianson, 7, and her mother drove to Racine from Chicago to see the
"It was cool," Christianson said. "I never saw this before."
Christianson's father is a retired member of the division, said Janis Christianson. Amanda Christianson said she wants to be like him.
"Maybe I'll join the Army. I'd want to be a rigger because my dad was a rigger," Amanda said.
A rigger, Amanda said, is a person who folds up the parachutes for the people flying out of the planes, she said.
"I like Army men," she said. "They help protect us."
The experience of jumping out of a plane is hard to explain for Staff Sgt. Bernell Thomas of
"You sit in a plane for so long that you can't wait to get out," Thomas said.
Thomas has been a paratrooper for about eight years. He's completed one tour of duty in Iraq, in 2004, but has never had to jump in a combat situation, Thomas said.
Paratroopers jump with at
least 80 pounds of equipment, Thomas said.
"It takes less than 5 minutes to assemble our equipment once we reach the ground," Thomas said.
Paratroopers usually do not jump during the day, either.
"Most jumps are done at night. Technology gives us that advantage," said Peterson.
It was Rosemary Horneck's first time seeing her son, Thomas Horneck, jump from a plane.
Horneck, of Sheboygan, said the experience was awesome.
"I'm very proud of him. I was a little nervous. I was hoping he wouldn't hit a tree," Horneck said. None of the paratroopers were caught in any area trees, but a few parachutes were.
The division has about 15,000 paratroopers, said Maj. Amy Hannah, public affairs officer for the division.
More than 2,400 of them are deployed in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, and another 400 are deployed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hannah said.
Three C-130 cargo planes transported 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers to Racine’s Batten International Airport, where they participated in the division’s 59th annual national convention.
Over 100 members of the 82nd Airborne Division filled the sky over Batten International Airport in Racine Thursday, where they dropped in for the 82nd Airborne’s convention
Pfc. Andrew Eldredge (left), a member of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., greets Jim Long, 70, from Phoenix, who served with the 82nd in the 1950s. The two met at the 82nd Airborne Division Association’s national convention Thursday. Link
Hoo-ah! 82nd Airborne troopers drop in
Proud warriors, old and young, in spirit of fraternity, gather for convention
By MEG JONES
Posted: Aug. 11, 2005
Racine - They still fit. The tan uniform with the red, white and blue 82nd Airborne patch. The boots. Even the khaki hat.
Northam "Doc" Stolp can still slip into the uniform he wore as a cocky 82nd Airborne paratrooper who leaped out of an airplane, loaded down with gear that weighed more than he did, at 1:20 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, 1944, over the skies of Holland.
The 81-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man is not only as trim as he was during World War II, but he's also apparently a pack rat.
Stolp still has his uniform, which he wore proudly Thursday at a gathering of 82nd Airborne veterans. He had his boots, his hat and his medals as well as a small section of his camouflage-colored parachute, which he pulled out of his pocket and showed off to anyone willing to feel the silky-smooth material that slowed his 600-foot descent that day.
"I was scared," Stolp said of his first and only combat jump, during Operation Market Garden. "We were all scared. If anyone tells you he wasn't, he's lying."
Soldiers who jump out of planes are an elite brotherhood, and now sisterhood, who wear the distinctive burgundy-colored berets of the Airborne signifying their willingness to hurl themselves out the back of an aircraft into danger. Members of the 82nd Airborne Division Association, both veterans and current soldiers, are in Milwaukee this week for the group's 59th annual convention.
The convention kicked off Thursday in the usual way - with a coordinated parachute drop, a tradition since 1946. More than 100 82nd Airborne paratroopers stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., dropped in, literally, at Racine's Batten International Airport and then mingled with some of the 1,100 82nd Airborne veterans who are in Milwaukee for the convention.
Some of the veterans, like Stolp, wore their uniforms while others wore shirts, jackets and ball caps adorned with the 82nd Airborne insignia as they milled around a transport plane parked at the edge of the small airport, tried on the parachutes now used by paratroopers, posed for photos and reminisced.
Stolp was the last man out of the plane door over Holland and recalled feeling tugs on his parachute as he drifted downward. Realizing the tugs were German bullets piercing his parachute, Stolp detached his rifle from his gear and was loading it when he looked down to see the earth coming rapidly toward him. Just as he thought, "Oh, there's the ground," he landed.
"My gun was facing down and it hit the ground and the barrel filled with sand. Fortunately, no one was near, though they were shooting around the periphery," said Stolp, who became a dentist in Wisconsin Rapids after the war.
The 82nd Airborne was part of D-Day, though Stolp missed the Normandy invasion because his troop ship, the Queen Elizabeth, docked in England on that day.
Inspired to leap
Back home, Bert Schmitz, 72, watched the newsreels of the paratroopers descending on French soil. His first thought? "I want to do that."
Schmitz, of Winneconne, didn't wait until he was old enough to enlist. He got out his mother's umbrella - he was 10 years old - held it over his head and jumped off the second-story balcony at his home. Three times. He would have jumped more, but his mom's umbrella broke.
He spent four years in the 82nd Airborne, 1952-1956, and remembers his first jump as if it were yesterday.
"I remember leaving the plane and the chute opening and the total silence," said Schmitz, who was an ironworker in Milwaukee for many years, helping build the Hoan Bridge and the First Wisconsin building. "I didn't worry about hitting the ground until I got there. As soon as I got on the ground, I wanted to go back up."
Alvin Ferguson, 82, of Tracy, Mo., joined the 82nd Airborne in 1947 at a time when the American military was desegregating. The 82nd Airborne was among the first to integrate.
"It was one of the first places in the military that the race card did not come into play," said Rich Becker, past national president of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.
To Ferguson, who is African-American, "that meant a lot to me. It gave me room for promotion. I went from private to captain in the 82nd."
Ferguson was drawn to the unit because of its bravado and bravery.
"Oh my God, it was just a different attitude altogether," said Ferguson, who served in the 82nd until 1958. "When I went to jump school, it was like a fraternity. I never would've stayed in the military if it weren't for the 82nd Airborne. It was a different breed of cat."
Ferguson, Stolp and Schmitz, who frequently attend 82nd Airborne national conventions, enjoy talking with the paratroopers who now carry on the tradition.
Sgt. Christopher Patin, 23, of Fond du Lac was among the paratroopers who jumped out of three C-130 cargo planes that flew low over the Racine airfield as the crowd cheered, clapped and yelled "hoo-ah!" He volunteered for the assignment so he could visit with his family and chat with veterans.
"It's always good to hear war stories from people you admire," said Patin, who served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
From the Aug. 12, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel