National Airborne Day
On August 16, 1940, the first official Army parachute jump was performed at Fort Benning, Georgia. To recognize this important date and to honor our nation’s airborne divisions of the Armed Forces, National Airborne Day is observed annually on August 16.
The strategy behind deploying airborne forces is to insert troops behind a battle line by parachute. Paratroopers have played a major role in United States military history since the first successful parachute jump in 1940.
Paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division litter the sky during an airborne operation of the Second World War. (Photo: U.S. Army)
The 101st Airborne Division, nicknamed "The Screaming Eagles" are one of the most deployed and recognized divisions in the U.S. Army. Since being activated on August 16, 1942, the 101st has shaped the course of battles from World War II to the present day in Iraq. 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the 101st Airborne Division.
According to the U.S. Army, "On June 6, 1944, 101st soldiers were the first Allied troops to set foot in occupied France during the D-Day assault after parachuting in behind enemy lines." Later in the war, the 101st helped repel the German offensive during the Battle of the Bulge, liberated the Landsberg concentration camp, and captured Hitler's mountaintop retreat.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower speaking to men of the 101st Airborne Division as they prepare for the D-Day invasion. (Photo: huffingtonpost.com)
Upon its activation in 1942, Major General William C. Lee was the first Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division. He believed this fighting force had a "rendezvous with destiny" and that it would "fall on its enemies like a thunderbolt from the skies." As we look back 75 years later, Lee's words about the 101st are overwhelmingly true.
In the Vietnam War, First and Second Gulf Wars, and the Global War on Terrorism, the 101st Airborne Division continued to lead the way. The U.S. Army writes that, "In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Division was the first conventional unit to deploy in support of the Global War on Terrorism." As we have seen throughout history, the 101st will always "fall on its enemies like a thunderbolt from the skies."