Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Remarks at the 60th Anniversary of the Airborne


Clerk for Cool guys
SOF Support
Sep 11, 2008
I thought this was pretty cool. I had seen the poster but I had never seen the speach enjoy :)


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentleman, Fellow paratroopers--past--present and future. What a wonderful day to be here at Fort Benning, home of the Airborne, and have the opportunity to pay tribute to our Airborne forces and our Airborne tradition that has served our Nation so well for 60 years.
Let me begin by saluting the troops standing out there in formation. You look great, every bit as impressive, as the magnificent work you perform every day. Let’s show them our appreciation. And also thanks to Mr. Don Lassen, a great American who continues to do so much to preserve the legacy of the Airborne and perpetuate the Airborne spirit. Let me also add a special thank you to the many veterans who are with us. You honor us with your presence. We are grateful for your service to the Nation and delighted that you could be here.
Today, we come together to mark an auspicious occasion – the 60th anniversary of the Airborne. Today, we salute a tradition of courage, dedication, and esprit de corps and we honor the legacy of those who forged the spirit known as AIRBORNE!
As most of you may know, or have experienced, after you’ve have logged a certain number of jumps the "spirit" may be all that’s left! Even the best ‘chute in world cannot effectively protect a paratrooper from where a plane can drop you sometimes!
Airborne--it is a single word recognized the world over as the best--a single word that strikes fear in the heart of an adversary --a single word that stands for all that is good and great about America.
Two years ago, I was surprised to learn from my Russian counterpart and the head of their Airborne forces, that for years their defense of Moscow included plans to defend against the Airborne, which they were convinced would be dropped on Moscow. When asked how he thought we’d make it through their air defenses, hit tankers in the air for fuel, maintain operational security, he just shrugged. He thought the Airborne could do it. Imagine the difference this made in their plans, even though we never had thought to attempt that.
But his story confirmed Benjamin Franklin’s statement that no prince can afford to defend his country against 10,000 men descending from the clouds. This type of power comes from the spirit of the Airborne! A spirit born here at Fort Benning, Georgia, with the very first Airborne Soldiers. The first official parachute jump took place here in 1940 on August 16th and that day has been proclaimed "National Airborne Day" by the President.
These first Airborne soldiers, and thank God a few are here today, pioneered a brand new form of warfare, fought by a new breed of Soldier--a warrior trained and focused on defeating tyranny in the greatest conflict the world had ever seen. These Soldiers were all volunteers, just like every one who has followed them, and they were attracted to the Airborne because they wanted to be part of an elite unit. They had the "Right Stuff." They sought out this opportunity to be on the cutting edge; understanding that the mission to jump behind enemy lines to seize key terrain would be perilous. Their combat records are the stuff of legend.
From the first combat jump in North Africa, paratroopers fought with courage, determination, and drive. Theirs is a roll call of sacrifice and courage: Oran, Sicily, New Guinea, Normandy, Southern France, Holland, Bastogne, Luzon and Corregidor. In these and countless other places, they set the standard for all who have followed and established the spirit of the Airborne; forged in the fire of combat and honed in the heat of battle.
Often dropped far from the planned DZ, separated from the rest of their units, little groups or bands of paratroopers would set about to carry the mission designed for much larger units. Their ingenuity, grit, determination, innovation and fortitude always proved to be too much for the adversary --they were the decisive factor! That spirit has been carried forward by new generations--in Korea and Vietnam, Grenada and Panama, Iraq and Somalia. And today, that spirit resides in the young Soldiers standing here.
You see this spirit in the actions and demeanor of every Airborne Soldier--from the ones with the shiny, new Airborne wings on their chests to the grizzled Sergeants Major in the 82d Airborne Division, the Ranger Regiment, or Special Forces. You see it in the faces of the Airborne Soldiers who deployed last year to Albania and Kosovo and in the veterans here with us today. It is a spirit that has become legendary.
It is a spirit built on physical and mental toughness, high standards, courage and commitment, reflected in everything from personal appearance to realistic, challenging training. It is a spirit of high standards that come from knowing you must always be ready; realizing you are the first to go and facing the possibility that you may be the first to die. It is the spirit of teamwork--of never, ever, giving up or giving in. The spirit of esprit de corps that comes from the legends of the past and the tough training and pride in the unit today combined with the knowledge that you are part of a group dedicated to something great; usually with an extraordinarily tough mission.
It is the spirit of courage. The courage and guts to jump into the black darkness of the night at 500 feet to take it to the enemy. The kind of courage shown by Lieutenant Winters of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, "Currahee," who took command on D-Day after his company commander was killed. Lieutenant Winters led his men, who filled the breech as they destroyed a key gun battery overlooking Utah Beach. That same kind of courage shown by a great Airborne medic in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, Medal of Honor recipient Al Rascon, who in RVN risked his life many times over for fellow troopers. The same kind of courage shown by Sergeant First Class Randall Shughart and Master Sergeant Gary Gordon in Somalia in September 1993. Volunteering to fast rope into a hot landing zone to rescue a downed Black Hawk pilot, armed with only sniper rifles and sidearms, they were quickly surrounded by hundreds of Somalis--yet these two did their utmost and fought valiantly to save that pilot in an action for which they were awarded the Medal of Honor.
It is this spirit of dedication, the drive to be the best and to meet any challenge head-on, to overcome the impossible--that is the heart, soul, and marrow of the Airborne. It is the spirit of commitment to country, unit, mission, and to Airborne buddies.
As you look around today, you can see the familiar symbols of the Airborne. These berets, patches, boots, and badges are important reminders of who we are, but they are merely symbols, not the actual spirit of the Airborne. No, the spirit of the Airborne is not found on the uniforms we wear. It is found in the heart of Soldiers who have served and who continue to serve our Nation. It is found in each and every one of you.
As I heard one of our great Airborne leaders comment one day, "I don’t like jumping out of airplanes, but I sure like being around people who do!"
This spirit is captured in that powerful 82d Airborne poster of a scene from Belgium during World War Two. The poster is a photograph of a dirty, scrappy, tough paratrooper, PFC Vernon Haught, of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, marching in the dead of that cold, snowy winter with a rucksack on his back. Going to reinforce the retreating American forces in Belgium. His expression leaves no doubt about his determination. He is moving out to go toe-to-toe with the enemy in Belgium. As you look at the poster, it strikes you that nowhere in this photograph do you see a parachute. And you and I both know there doesn't have to be one--you simply know from the look: he's Airborne.
Under the photo is a quote from PFC Martin, also of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, who during the battle asked a retreating tank destroyer commander, "Are you looking for a safe place?" When the tank commander answered yes, PFC Martin replied, "Well buddy just pull that vehicle behind me--I am the 82d Airborne and this is as far as the bastards are going." Imagine, an Airborne PFC telling a guy in a tank to follow him.
That is the spirit of the Airborne, a level of spirit that can only exist in a fighting force as motivated, as trained, and as committed as the Airborne and that spirit continues today. A spirit that represents the best of our Nation and a spirit that for sixty years has set the standard for others in our Army and armies around the world to emulate.
Thank God for each of you Airborne troopers, past, present, and future. Thank you for what you have done, continue to do, and for what you will do for our great country. AIRBORNE--HOOAH!


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That's fucking cool SGM.... I'm not a para, but I'm proud of my Cherry Wings for sure
Excellent speech and LGOP. If our enemies could read, and be compelled to read, some of the great histories written about the Airborne and the exploits of our paratroopers, they'd turn around and go the fuck home.