Paratroopers jump over the Normandy Drop Zone on Fort Bragg Friday.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -
In a way, Friday involved normal training for some paratroopers at Fort Bragg, but there really was a little more to it.
"It just happens to fall on a day that is very special to us as paratroopers, the 70th anniversary of D-Day," explained Lt. Col. Thedric Moseley, the Commander of the 27th Engineer Battalion.
Members of the battalion, which is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, conducted jump training at the Normandy drop zone – an area named after the French territory where the D-Day invasion began. Members of the 82nd Sustainment Brigade, 18th Weather Squadron and 44th Medical Brigade also jumped.
Approximately 300 paratroopers participated Friday.
Before they got in planes for a jump, the morning briefing included a short refresher on the significance of D-Day. Paratroopers jumped before dawn, clearing the way for other troops.
"Today's an opportunity to do what our airborne ancestors did, jumped into Normandy," said Departure Airfield Control Officer Sfc. Daniel Cromer. "The paratroopers jumped behind enemy lines. What the objective was, was to jump onto either flank to open up the roadways and the seaways for the ships to come in."
That still carries a sense of pride for paratroopers although many of these are so young, even their grandparents weren't old enough to serve in World War II. Today, they were encouraged to think of their connection to those who did serve.
"The soldiers who did this back in World War II, many of them were drafted, but they all volunteered to be paratroopers. Today we're all volunteers, but we still volunteer to a second time and that's to be paratroopers and exit aircraft. It is a special person that's willing to do that," Moseley said. "Had those paratroopers not done what they did we may not be here doing what we're doing today. I think about it a lot but today especially."
Paratroopers from Fort Bragg were also in France Friday. Members of the 82nd Airborne Division participated in several memorial events there including a jump.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>