By Cheryle Rivas, USASOCAugust 20, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 20, 2014) -- Young and old alike turned out to celebrate National Airborne day Aug. 16, at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville.
The museum lawn was filled with military static displays depicting equipment used on and off the battlefield. Soldiers showcased traditional equipment, such as the Army's Artillery M777 Howitzer and newer technology like the Avenger Air Defense System (AN-TWQ-1), and the Light Military Tactical Vehicle. Vintage jeeps, actors depicting World War II Soldiers, and various static displays showed the evolution of the Airborne from the first official Army parachute jump, which took place on Aug. 16, 1940, through a modern jump on the ASOM grounds during the event.
The celebration opened up with ceremonial music by the 82nd Airborne Division's "All American" band, an airborne demonstration with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command parachute team, the Black Daggers, and the U.S. Army's parachute demonstration team, the Golden Knights, followed by a ceremony and dedication.
In a fitting tribute of the day, organizers dedicated the newest outer loop corridor connecting Fort Bragg to the new I-295 corridor, naming it the Airborne & Special Operations Highway.
Retired Brig. Gen. Tony Tata, now secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, offered opening remarks on the naming of the highway.
"Their incredible commitment and selfless sacrifice will be remembered forever in this road," said Tata, a former brigade commander with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
Brig. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, USASOC deputy commanding general, also offered remarks.
"Just as this highway connects from I-95 to the All American Freeway, it also represents the connections made among our military and civilian communities over the years," he said.
Other speakers included Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson, and the 82nd Airborne Division Commander Maj. Gen. John Nicholson Jr.
Following the sign's unveiling, Soldiers representing both the Airborne and Special Operations community, placed a wreath at the foot of Iron Mike, the iconic 15-foot statue, an airborne Soldier -- who is always watching, waiting and alert; a symbol of the thousands of airborne Soldiers past and present -- on point and ready to defend American liberties.