FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The 82nd Airborne Division honored its past while paying tribute to the Paratroopers of today during its annual All American Week celebration held May 18 - 21.
"This week, All American Week, is a time of esprit de corps and reflection. We gather at Fort Bragg to honor the paraA,A!troopers, glidermen, and Soldiers of this historic division, both past and present," said the Division's commander, Maj. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, in a statement.
The week kicked off with a four-mile division run early Monday morning. Despite rainy weather, a sea of boisterous, cadence-calling Paratroopers in unit T-shirts filled Longstreet Road as far as the eye could see. Other events during the week included a solemn memorial ceremony for fallen troopers at the 82nd history museum, a variety of sports competitions, activities for families, and several brigade regimental events.
As has often been the case over the past decade, several of the Division's units were deployed and unable to take part in All American Week. The Division Headquarters, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the Combat Aviation Brigade, and elements of the 18th Fires Brigade are all currently serving tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. As a result, this year's celebration was a scaled-down affair.
Still, for those who could participate, All American Week was a memorable experience.
"It was a good time. I got to play some sports, talk to some old veterans, and get a little time off from work," said Burton, Ohio native Pvt. Jim Powell, of Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, who was taking part in All American Week for the first time.
As always, people travelled from far and wide to participate in the event. Perhaps no one had a more arduous journey than Sgt. Jon Hoxie, who lost an arm and a leg in Iraq but who still made the trip down from Walter Reed Army Medical Center to take part in this year's celebration.
"I'm just glad to be here," Hoxie said.
Next year, he said, he hoped to be able to run with his unit.
The emotional highlight of this year's All American Week came during the memorial ceremony at the 82nd history museum, during which current and former Paratroopers placed a wreath in front of the division's war memorial monument, and family members of Paratroopers slain in action in Iraq and Afghanistan laid flowers at the foot of the Global War on Terrorism monument.
Lieutenant Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of Fort Bragg and the XVIII Airborne Corps, eloquently captured the mood of the moment during his remarks when he described the Paratroopers of the 82nd as "living museums."
"The museum behind me is dedicated to the heroes of the past," Austin said, "but it is clear to me today that I am standing before the heroes of the present."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16