National Airborne Day is a day designated by the United States Congress to honor the nation’s airborne forces of the Armed Forces. It was created in 2001 by George W. Bush.
August 16, 1940 marked the first official Army parachute jump, validating the innovative concept of inserting United States ground combat forces behind a battle line by parachute.
On August 14, 2002 President George W. Bush issued the following proclamation:
The history of airborne forces began after World War I, when Brigadier General William Mitchell first conceived the idea of parachuting troops into combat. Eventually, under the leadership of Major William Lee at Fort Benning, Georgia, members of the Parachute Test Platoon pioneered methods of combat jumping in 1940. In November 1942, members of the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, conducted America’s first combat jump, leaping from a C-47 aircraft behind enemy lines in North Africa. This strategy revolutionized combat and established airborne forces as a key component of our military.
During World War II, airborne tactics were critical to the success of important missions, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Southern France, and many others. In Korea and Vietnam, airborne soldiers played a critical combat role, as well as in later conflicts and peacekeeping operations, including Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans. Most recently, airborne forces were vital to liberating the people of Afghanistan from the repressive and violent Taliban regime; and these soldiers continue to serve proudly around the world in the global coalition against terrorism.
The elite airborne ranks include prestigious groups such as the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, “Sky Soldiers,” 82nd Airborne Division, “All American,” and the “Screaming Eagles” of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Airborne forces have also been represented in the former 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions and numerous other Airborne, glider and air assault units and regiments. Paratroopers in the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, the 75th Infantry (Ranger) Regiment and other Special Forces units conduct swift and effective operations in defense of peace and freedom.
Airborne combat continues to be driven by the bravery and daring spirit of sky soldiers. Often called into action with little notice, these forces have earned an enduring reputation for dedication, excellence, and honor. As we face the challenges of a new era, I encourage all people to recognize the contributions of these courageous soldiers to our Nation and the world.
Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 16, 2002, as National Airborne Day. As we commemorate the first official Army parachute jump on August 16, 1940, I encourage all Americans to join me in honoring the thousands of soldiers, past and present, who have served in an airborne capacity. I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.
George W. Bush
On August 3, 2009 the Senate recognized National Airborne Day with Senate Resolution 235.
S. RES. 235
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
August 3, 2009
Ms. Murkowski (for herself, Mr. Reed, Ms. Snowe, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Voinovich, Mr. Begich, Mr. Levin, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Burr, Mr. Crapo, Mrs. Hagan, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Inouye, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Conrad, Mrs. Lincoln, Mr. Burris, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Reid, Mr. Thune, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Casey, Mr. Merkley, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Bond, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Corker) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to
Designating August 16, 2009, as “National Airborne Day”.
Whereas the airborne forces of the Armed Forces have a long and honorable history as units of adventuresome, hardy, and fierce warriors who, for the national security of the United States and the defense of freedom and peace, project the effective ground combat power of the United States by Air Force air transport to the far reaches of the battle area and, indeed, to the far corners of the world;
Whereas August 16 marks the anniversary of the first official Army parachute jump on August 16, 1940, an event that validated the innovative concept of inserting United States ground combat forces behind a battle line by means of a parachute;
Whereas the United States experiment with airborne infantry attack began on June 25, 1940, when the Army Parachute Test Platoon was first authorized by the Department of War, and was launched when 48 volunteers began training in July 1940;
Whereas the success of the Army Parachute Test Platoon in the days immediately before the entry of the United States into World War II led to the formation of a formidable force of airborne units that have served with distinction and have had repeated success in armed hostilities;
Whereas among those airborne units are the former 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions, the venerable 82nd Airborne Division, the versatile 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and the airborne regiments and battalions (some as components of those divisions, some as separate units) that achieved distinction as the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 187th Infantry (Airborne) Regiment, the 503rd, 507th, 508th, 517th, 541st, and 542nd Parachute Infantry Regiments, the 88th Glider Infantry Regiment, the 509th, 551st, and 555th Parachute Infantry Battalions, the 325th and 327th Glider Infantry, and the 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion;
Whereas the achievements of the airborne forces during World War II prompted the evolution of those forces into a diversified force of parachute and air-assault units that, over the years, have fought in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf region, and Somalia, and have engaged in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, the Sinai Peninsula, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo;
Whereas the modern-day airborne force that has evolved from those World War II beginnings is an agile, powerful force that, in large part, is composed of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and the 75th Ranger Regiment;
Whereas the modern-day airborne force also includes other elite forces composed entirely of airborne trained and qualified special operations warriors, including Army Special Forces, Marine Corps Reconnaissance units, Navy SEALs, and Air Force combat control teams, each of which is part of the United States Special Operations Command;
Whereas in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the 75th Ranger Regiment, special forces units, and units of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), together with other units of the Armed Forces, have been prosecuting the war against terrorism by carrying out combat operations in Afghanistan, training operations in the Philippines, and other operations elsewhere;
Whereas in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, airborne units played a pivotal role in the war in Afghanistan, including the unflinching pursuit of the enemies of the United States during the battles of Mazar-i Sharif, Kabul, Qala-i-Jangi, Tora Bora, and Operation Anaconda;
Whereas United States paratroopers, which include the 82d Airborne Division, 75th Ranger Regiment, Special Operations Forces, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team, and elements of the 4th Brigade 25th Infantry Division, have demonstrated bravery and honor in an effort to pursue the enemies of the United States, to stabilize Afghanistan, and to strive for calm in a troubled region;
Whereas in the aftermath of the announcement of Operation Iraqi Freedom by President George W. Bush in March 2003, the 75th Ranger Regiment, special forces units, and units of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 25th Infantry Division, together with other units of the Armed Forces, have been prosecuting the war against terrorism, carrying out combat operations, conducting civil affairs missions, and assisting in establishing democracy in Iraq;
Whereas the airborne forces are, and will continue to be, at the ready and the forefront until the Global War on Terrorism is concluded;
Whereas of the members and former members of the United States airborne forces, all have achieved distinction by earning the right to wear the Silver Wings of Courage of the United States airborne forces, thousands have achieved the distinction of making combat jumps, 69 have earned the Medal of Honor, and hundreds have earned the Distinguished-Service Cross, Silver Star, or other decorations and awards for displays of such traits as heroism, gallantry, intrepidity, and valor;
Whereas the members and former members of the United States airborne forces are all members of a proud and honorable fraternity of the profession of arms that is made exclusive by those distinctions which, together with their special skills and achievements, distinguish them as intrepid combat parachutists, special operation forces, and, in former days, glider troops;
Whereas the history and achievements of the members and former members of the airborne forces of the United States Armed Forces warrant special expressions of the gratitude of the people of the United States; and
Whereas, since the airborne community celebrates August 16 as the anniversary of the first official jump by the Army Parachute Test Platoon, August 16 would be an appropriate day to recognize as National Airborne Day: Now, therefore, be it
That the Senate—
- designates August 16, 2009, as National Airborne Day; and
- calls on the people of the United States to observe National Airborne Day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.