BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The "airborne force" is not a new concept. Benjamin Franklin spoke in 1784 about a time when "ten thousand men descending from the clouds might not, in many places, do an infinite amount of mischief before a force could be brought together to repel them."

In 1917 during the First World War, U.S. Army Maj. Lewis Brereton and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell conceived the first modern operational plan for what we call "airborne operations" with a plan to drop elements of the 1st Infantry Division behind enemy lines near Metz, Germany, but the war ended before the plan could be executed.

By the end of World War II, the Paratrooper earned his place in history as an elite Soldier that was feared by his enemies.

The Army celebrates its history and traditions and many families help carry on that tradition. The Hookers are one such family.

R.D. Hooker Sr., graduated from parachute jump school in 1956, served three tours in Vietnam and retired in 1986 as a full colonel. U.S. Army Col. R.D. Hooker Jr., a Paratrooper since 1976, leads the communications action group at Combined Joint Task Force - 82, at Bagram Airfield. U.S. Army Pvt. Chris Hooker graduated jump school in 2009 and is currently serving at a combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

One might wonder, what is the appeal of jumping out of an airplane while carrying nearly 100 pounds of equipment and weapons'

"I would give a great deal to once more hear that adrenalin-pumping command, 'stand in the door,'" said the eldest in the Hooker family.

"Being a Paratrooper motivates me to serve my Army brothers and my country to the best of my ability," said the youngest member of the clan, Chris.

Paratroopers have tougher physical fitness standards, they go to war more often and they are more frequently injured either in training or in battle.
"Being a paratrooper, people have higher expectations for you. They expect you to go faster, harder and longer than the standard," said Chris.

"I had a knee injury that caused me to attend jump school three times and to finally make it was one of the proudest times of my 30-plus year military career," said the most senior Hooker.

Grandfathers, fathers and sons --- despite the generation gap and the years between them, some things stay the same.

"The airborne is a family business, we are all drawn to the adventure, the tradition, and the excitement of the airborne. Most of all, we like serving with paratroopers," said Col. R.D. Hooker Jr.

Page last updated Mon March 22nd, 2010 at 02:06