Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Friday Before Memorial Day



















On Friday May 26, 2006 the All American Week events continued at the Sicily Drop Zone in boondocks near Fort Bragg. The 82nd Airborne paratroopers were set for demonstrations called Joint Readiness Training Exercises.

This is a place where I made parachute jumps in 1968 near the end of my active-duty military service.

As I return to these places and events, I recall with pride the years I served in uniform. The service personnel I see today are much better soldiers than we were back then.

Soldiers of today are specimens of fitness, intelligent, well trained, highly respectful and disciplined. Their equipment and uniforms are the best public money can buy. Each infantry paratrooper has night-vision goggles that flip down from their helmet for night action. The troopers have knee and elbow padding, sun glasses, new M-4 assault rifles, unit patches and rank insignia attach to new flame retardant Advanced Combat Uniforms with velcro for easy and quick change. Their new boots need no spit- shining as mine did in the past. When I think about it now, what a waste of time shining boots when that time could have been spent on training.

The picture above is me practice-shooting at a live target using an M-4 with laser sighting. The target was wearing a sensor on his chest that detected simulated hits.

Three infantrymen posed for a picture in the below snapshot.

Further below are grandchildren getting a sense of how it feels to be suited in a parachute harness. Next is my brother posing with a female soldier.

I observed lots of females in uniform who appeared fit and committed.

After these photos were taken, everyone moved into bleachers to observe demonstrations by attack helicopters, heavy-equipment drops by parachute from Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, and a paratrooper-infantry squad assault on a simulated enemy bunker.

Three C-17's loaded with troopers approached the drop zone for a planned jump to fill the sky with several hundred parachutes, but, the ground wind-speed exceeded safe conditions for demonstration purposes. The approaching giant planes veered away at the last second to abort the plan. The crowd was disappointed but understood that safety of individual soldiers is paramount.

I am very proud of all service personnel and appreciate all they do for us.

Return here on Thursday, July 13 for another blog post.

Have a good day!



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