Stained-glass windows preserve Paratrooper history
Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division see the actions of troopers to restore peace in the revolution-torn Dominican Republic as represented in a stained-glass window at the 82nd Airborne Division Memorial Chapel, Feb. 3. In July 1976, seven stained glass windows were dedicated, depicting division action in WWI, WWII, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. The windows also include depictions of Michael, the Archangel of God, The Promise of Peace and 82nd Abn. Div. humanitarian response. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Bryan Willis, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs)

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Paying homage to the legacy of honor and valor is a staple of life in the 82nd Airborne Division. It only takes a few steps down Ardennes St., the main road of the division, to see the "All- Americans'" rich history.

The 82nd Abn. Div. has its legacy chronicled in a thoroughly unique way - with stained-glassed windows. In July 1976, seven windows were installed in the Division's Memorial Chapel, depicting the division's actions in World War I, World War II, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam.
The windows also include a portrayal of Michael, the Archangel of God, The Promise of Peace, and 82nd Abn. Div. humanitarian response.

"The windows help younger generations of Soldiers understand the history of the 82nd", said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Watters, 82nd Abn. Div. chaplain, "The new Paratrooper also learns about the legacy that he will help carry on."

The WWII window is dedicated to the 3,228 troopers who made the ultimate sacrifice during WWII. The window depicts the rescue of Saint. Mere-Eglise, when a paratrooper got snagged in a church steeple and played dead for a whole day until the enemy left the area and friendly forces arrived.

In February of 1968, the 82nd Airborne's 3rd Brigade deployed to Vietnam to resist the Communist TET offensive. The Vietnam window, which includes a scene of local villagers in a rice patty being protected by 82nd troopers, is dedicated to the 187 who died there.

Each action scene depicted in stained-glass is also accompanied by a written message.
"A biblical scripture that relates to the campaign is set into the bottom of each window," said Watters. "This can give a Paratrooper moral and biblical justification for his combat action," Watters added.

Private donations were used to fund the project.

"People who visit the chapel, military and civilians alike, are invariably impressed by the beauty of the windows," said Staff Sgt. Adam Westermann, 82nd Airborne chaplain's assistant.

A new chapel is now under construction and the seven windows will be painstakingly dismantled piece-by piece and restored in the new chapel.

The new 82nd chapel, on Ardennes Street, will accommodate 400 people in an arena-style of seating and is scheduled to be completed in December of this year.

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