By Sgt. Luke RollinsMay 23, 2011
Greg Stefanksi may be a Vietnam War Veteran, but at first sight of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter, he became as giddy as a school boy. Handing his camera to the pilot at the display, he hopped into the pilot's seat and grinned broadly as his picture was taken. In front of him, pressed between the dashboard and the windshield, glinted the golden sabers of the 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, upon a dark blue Stetson.
"A lot of times I get a little emotional," said Stefanski.
Stefanski was one of hundreds of veterans, Soldiers, friends and family members to come out May 20, 2011, to Sicily Drop Zone at Fort Bragg, N.C., and participate in the capstone event of All-American Week, the Joint Operational Access Demonstration.
"It's our chance to show the public what we're capable of," said Sgt. Maj. Michael Green, the operations sergeant major for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
The operational capacity of the 82nd Airborne Division was on parade. Static displays turned the Sicily Drop Zone into a mobile Airborne Museum, giving the public a chance to see the latest technologies deployed in the division's global engagements. Vehicles, weapons, reconnaissance equipment - even a nine-man airborne infantry squad - were available for the public to learn about and interact with.
At noon, paratroopers put on an aerial performance, executing a "heavy drop" of parachuting vehicles followed by a simulated combat jump. Spectators in bleachers and lawnchairs lined the perimeter of Sicily Drop Zone, cameras skyward, clicking away at a line of shrooming green parachutes carrying the All-American paratroopers to the ground.
Green, who has been participating in and coordinating JOADs for more than ten years, said that the event lets the 82nd Airborne Division connect with the local community by sharing their knowledge, skills and capabilities.
"Standards and discipline, lock step methods - these are key to what we do. Move away from the tried and true, you start making mistakes," said Green.
He said the JOAD also shows veterans what's new and relevant while situating current paratroopers within the All-American legacy.
Stefanski is a torchbearer of that legacy. This is the third All-American Week he's attended.
"My heart is with this military," Stefanski said. "These are the people that are keeping us straight and safe. I just like to come out here and pass on what I feel."