Category Archives: Physical Training

All American Engineers Honor Valor, Sacrifice of WWII Waal River Crossing

Paratroopers from Company A, forefront, and Company B, rear, compete against each other during the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion’s commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the Waal River Crossing on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 on Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Pond. The paratroopers were competing to cross the lake five times in honor of Pfc. Willard Jenkins, killed by enemy fire while manning a rudder during the WWII river assault.

Members of the 82nd Airborne Division recently honored the valor and sacrifice of engineers who valiantly braved fierce enemy fire and artillery to ferry paratroopers across the Waal River during WWII’s Operation Market Garden.

All American Engineers of the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion commemorated the 74th anniversary of the Waal River Crossing at Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Lake on Oct. 3, 2018 with espirit de corps and fierce competition.

“This event provides an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifice our fellow engineer brethren of the 307th AEB made during Operation Market Garden on Sept. 20, 1944,” said Maj. Chris Pierce, the battalion’s Executive Officer. “It gives paratroopers a sense of what moving across a body of water while totally exposed to enemy fire is like.”

Wearing WWII-era uniforms and in a boat replicating the type used to cross the Waal River, members of the All American Airborne Legion and paratroopers from the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion row across Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Pond on October 3, 2018. The reenactment was part of the battalion’s commemoration of the WWII crossing of the Waal River by 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers under heavy enemy fire.

The Waal River Crossing during WWII was a daring feat; a daytime river crossing to ferry paratroopers of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment across 250 yards of moving water with no cover from enemy machine gun fire and artillery. Their objective was the north end of the Nijmegen Bridge; deemed essential if Operation Market Garden was to be successful.

Paratroopers of Company C, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion would get them across. Three paratroopers manned each collapsible canvas boat with many of the occupants using their rifles to row in the absence of oars. Twenty-six boats departed in the first wave with only eleven of them returning to ferry more paratroopers across.

Paratroopers assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division row Zodiac boats across Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Pond on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 in commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the WWII Waal River Crossing. The paratroopers were competing to cross the lake five times in honor of Pfc. Willard Jenkins, killed by enemy fire while manning a rudder during the river assault.

In all, engineers of the 307th made five trips across the Waal River under heavy fire and the crossing eventually served as inspiration for the 1977 film “A Bridge Too Far.”

The event began at the 307th’s headquarters where companies of the battalion formed up in the early Fort Bragg morning. Racing more than two miles to McKellar’s Pond, each company formed teams that took turns carrying their assigned Zodiac Boat.

After all of the companies arrived, reenactors from the All American Airborne Legion and members of the battalion rowed across the lake in World War II-era uniforms and replicas of the collapsible boats while a narrator read a historical vignette of the river assault.

Paratroopers assigned to the Paratroopers assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division begin their competition to cross Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Pond five times Wednesday, October 3, 2018. The competition was in in commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the WWII Waal River Crossing and held in honor of Pfc. Willard Jenkins, killed by enemy fire while manning a rudder during the river assault.

Paratroopers then loaded into the Zodiacs and competed to be the first to row across McKellar’s Pond, each time delivering a paratrooper to form a five-person team required to sprint around the lake back to the starting point.

The memory of Pfc. Willard “Bud” Jenkins was honored throughout the competition. Jenkins was a paratrooper assigned to the 307th AEB at the time of the WWII Waal River Crossing. Jenkins was reportedly manning a rudder on one of the boats when he was shot in the chest and fell overboard.

Jenkins’ remains were recently identified and he was buried in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania with members of the 307th in attendance to provide him military honors.

“Beastmaster” paratroopers assigned to Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team celebrate their victory during the battalion’s commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the Waal River Crossing. The paratroopers won the annual competition for the second time by being the first in the battalion to row five times across Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Pond on Wednesday, October 3, 2018.

“Beastmasters” from Company B won the coveted paddle and bragging rights awarded to the victors of the annual competition for the second year in a row.

“The history of this is extremely important that we don’t forget the soldiers that fought against insurmountable odds to seize an objective,” said Capt. Aaron Scherffius, the company commander during his victory remarks.

Congrats to the Panther EIB Recipients

Congratulations to the 24 Panther paratroopers who earned their Expert Infantryman Badge in late August!

These paratroopers demonstrated their mastery at a myriad of skills, tasks, drills and physical endurance tests to earn the badge.

Of the 24, five of them were True-Blue, having passed each evaluation on the first attempt.

82nd Best Medic Competition Tests Knowledge, Fortitude

   

Spc. Edgar Cortes assigned to 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division provides medical aid to a notional casualty during the Best Medic Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., July 26, 2018. The medical lanes help simulate the stress of combat and prepare our Medics to save their fellow Paratroopers. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. John Lytle)

     Two paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division distinguished themselves above their peers during a grueling competition on Fort Bragg held July 25-26.

     Staff Sgt. Miguel Matias, a Medic assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Troop, 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment and Sgt. Tyler Fisher, a Medic assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment proved their exceptional medical knowledge while demonstrating steadfast endurance during the two day competition.

      “Best Medic is important because it tests out the Medics’ competency and their physical and mental toughness,” said Sgt. 1st Class Evelyn Pollard, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s senior medic, about the competition.

Staff Sgt. Miguel Matias assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division climbs over an obstacle during the Best Medic Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., July 25, 2018. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. John Lytle)

      Participants began the competition in the early morning with a Ranger Physical Fitness Test before moving onto a written evaluation and marksmanship ranges.  Designed to determine the division’s top two medics, events continued to stress the paratroopers’ technical knowledge and mental and physical endurance with an obstacle course, night land-navigation, a 12-mile ruck and a rope-rigging evaluation. 

     With little rest and nutrition, paratroopers’ completed a final evaluation consisting of lanes testing their ability to respond to a wide range of simulated medical emergencies.

Spc. Aaron Tolson assigned to 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division navigates under a wired obstacle during the Best Medic Competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., July 25, 2018. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. John Lytle)

      Spc. Edgar Cortes, a member of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was the youngest medic competing, having earned his Expert Field Medical Badge earlier this year. 

     “I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Cortes before beginning the competition. “I came here for the experience and realistic training.”

     Matias and Tyler will continue to train to compete in the Army-wide Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. competition, scheduled to begin September 15 on Camp Bullis, Texas.

Staff Sgt. Miguel Matias, Spc. Edgar Cortes and Spc. Aaron Tolson, paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, competed in the Best Medic competition at Fort Bragg, N.C., July 25-26th, 2018. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. John Lytle)