Today, we honor the 75th Anniversary of the 505th PIR and 307th AEB’s first Star of Valor – Operation Husky. On 9 July 1943, at 1930 hours, the first of 226 planes carrying the paratroopers departed their airfields in Tunisa enroute to Sicily. There, they would conduct the first regimental-sized combat parachute jump in U.S. Army History.
Due to many factors, most of the paratroopers missed their assigned drop zones and the regiment was widely scattered. Throughout the night and well into July 10th, 505th PIR and 307th AEB paratroopers wreaked havoc on their enemies while fighting towards “Objective Y;” a series of 16 concrete pillboxes. Of the 3407 paratroopers of the 505th PIR who jumped, 424 were wounded or killed by the end of Operation Husky.
On the ground, the paratroopers fought with tenacity and aggressiveness. Their training in small unit tactics, eagerness to close with the enemy and universal understanding of the mission resulted in success.
Of Operation Husky, Gen. Gavin wrote “Here, in Sicily, he [Paratroopers] proved the hard way that vertical envelopment at night was feasible and almost impossible to stop, that the American trooper has the mental and physical courage to try anything, asking and expecting no odds.”
Take time today to learn more about Operation Husky. The heritage of the American Paratrooper, one you are building today, rests on the foundation laid by these brave Troopers.
82nd Airborne Paratroopers are Training to Conduct Static-Line Airborne Operations with the Air-Defense Missile
Conducting static-line airborne operations with non-typical weapons systems requires specialized training and equipment due to their large size. Paratroopers accustomed to the size and weight of a weapons case carrying an M4 or M249 must learn how to pack, move with and exit an aircraft with the bulkier equipment.
Paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division have been training to perform airborne insertions with the Stinger Missile Jump Pack, a Man-Portable Air-Defense System capable of defending drop zones from hostile unmanned aerial vehicles and rotary wing aircraft.
“Operational environments the Army has operated in were mainly focused on countering insurgencies and Air Defense’s focus centered around protection from Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles,” said Capt. Herman Wu, the 3rd BCT Air Defense Officer. “It wasn’t until near-peer threats to paratroopers became apparent that the Army recognized a capability gap exists in Short Range Air Defense on the drop zone.”
The weapon’s capability to defend against air threats on the drop zone makes it an essential component in future airborne operations.
“As an airborne unit, the Stinger Missile Jump Pack greatly increases our ability to defend against enemy UAS and rotary wing threats,” said Wu. “It is likely our next drop zone will be beyond the range of any friendly Air Defense assets and air superiority does not guarantee safety from enemy air threats.
“It could likely be our only defense against air threats in the initial stages of an airborne operation as the enemy tries to take advantage of our re-organization,” he added.
Training to jump with the Stinger Missile Jump Pack on Fort Bragg consisted of several events intended to familiarize the 3rd BCT paratroopers with the bulkiness of the equipment when exiting an aircraft. It also helped increase their knowledge about the system’s employment.
Classroom instruction, practical exercise at the United States Army Advanced Airborne School’s 34-foot tower and virtual-reality training at the Fort Bragg Virtual Stinger Missile Dome conducted throughout March with the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade developed the paratroopers’ knowledge about jumping with the system and employing it on the ground.
“Through this training, paratroopers are gaining confidence in their ability to successfully conduct a static-line airborne operation with the Stinger Missile Jump pack,” said Wu. “Their presence on the drop zone provides an extremely effective countermeasure to enemy air threats.”
Paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division trained at the United States Army Advanced Airborne School on Fort Bragg, N.C. with a Stinger Missile Jump Packs on March 13 and 14. The paratroopers trained with the specialized equipment in preparation to conduct static-line airborne operations with the surface-to-air missile.