Tag Archives: family

Fun, Fitness and Camaraderie

82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and their families recently celebrated the coming summer season with competition, sweat and fellowship.

A paratrooper assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment competes in an individual functional fitness competition during the battalion’s Functional Fitness Family Day on Friday, June 2. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team battalion partnered with Corvias Foundation to give the battalion’s paratroopers and families the chance to test their physical strength and endurance while enjoying a cookout and opportunity to fellowship.

Paratroopers and families of 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment participated in a Functional Fitness Family Day on Friday, June 2 on Fort Bragg to kick off the summer season.

“Our sincere desire is to strengthen our internal and external relationships across the 2Panther Force and increase the morale and welfare of our team,” said Lt. Col. Graham White, the 2-505 PIR Commander. “We also want to leave a lasting and positive impact on our families, particularly our children whom we hope to motivate to adopt healthy and active lifestyles while developing an appreciation for our nation’s many freedoms.”

Paratroopers and family members attending the event participated in numerous family functional fitness events including a couples and individual competitions, a children’s competition and a family fun-run.

Paratroopers and family members of 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment begin a fun-run during the battalion’s Functional Fitness Family Day on Friday, June 2. The battalion partnered with Corvias Foundation for a day filled with events testing the physical endurance of the paratroopers and family members while giving them the opportunity to cool-off and fellowship later with a cook-out, dunk tank and slip n’ slide.

For the family-focused event, the battalion partnered with Corvias Foundation.

“Corvias Foundation is proud to support this Functional Fitness Family Day and the long-term health and wellness of the military members in the 2-505th PIR,” shared John G. Picerne, Founder of Corvias and Corvias Foundation. “We were honored to step in to help this special event.”

After the fitness events, a dunk-tank offered attendees the chance to soak of the battalion’s command group, a slip n’slide was available for everyone else to cool off and a cook-off gave everyone the chance to refuel and fellowship. Ending the event was a ceremony where each of the battalion’s companies unveiled their new emblem and an awards ceremony recognized excellence and achievement within the ranks.

“This event is all about fun, fitness and camaraderie,” said White. “Through events like these, I want to strengthen not only the physical endurance of our paratroopers and families, but also the relationship they have with each other and their resiliency to challenges and adversity.”

An Airborne Chaplain Who Found his Calling in the Classifieds

For one Chaplain serving in the 82nd Airborne Division, his calling did not come in the form of a thunderous voice or dramatic event. It came when he opened the local classified section.

Captain Jacques Albertyn, the Battalion Chaplain for the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, heard a soft voice while sitting in a church pew, third row from the front. He didn’t think about it much until getting home and reaching for the newspaper.

Captain Jacques Albertyn, Chaplain for the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division was sitting in a church pew, third row from the front when he heard a voice calling him to a life in ministry.

“My calling happened March 10th, 2002. Some people might have that big moment where God speaks to them in a thunderous voice or something dramatic happened in their lives that calls them to ministry,” said Albertyn. “For me, it was a quiet voice.”

Albertyn was born in Pinelands, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa, in a hospital that was once a Catholic Monastery. A Southern Baptist and endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention, he attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Orlando Campus before joining the Army.

“Military Chaplaincy is about selfless service, it is about giving yourself to others with no expectation of receiving anything else in return,” said Albertyn about ministering to Soldiers. “Army Chaplaincy provided me with an opportunity to walk next to the young men and women that serve this country, to share God’s presence with them and support them in the midst of anxiety and fear.

Albertyn had just started a new career at a local company in Florida after immigrating to the United States when he heard that voice in church.

Captain Jacques Albertyn, Chaplain for the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division didn’t think much about a small voice he heard in church calling him to ministry until he got home and opened up the classified ads of his local newspaper.

I am calling you for my people the voice said, calling him by name. After getting home from church, Albertyn prayed to God to reveal the ministry He wanted Albertyn to serve in. “As I opened the newspaper, on the left page there was a quarter-page advertisement about the need for U.S. Army Chaplains to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Albertyn. “I looked at the ad, read it and went onto the next page, thinking to myself ‘that is not church.’

“Each time I served in a church since that day, my wife would say ‘You do know this is not where God wants you to serve,” continued Albertyn. “It might have taken me 14 years to get into the Army, but every day I serve as a Chaplain is a blessing as I fulfill my true and direct calling from God.”

Being a faith leader in an Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team requires not only steadfast courage to conduct static-line airborne operations, but also empathy to understand the reservations some paratroopers have before jumping. Primarily, it demands a chaplain serve alongside those he ministers to.”

“Being Airborne is not just a job, it is a way of life. Airborne is not for everyone, but those who are here deserve a chaplain who will look after them,” said Albertyn. “Airborne operations provide an aspect of service that can challenge the toughest soldier. Being next to paratroopers through their challenges and hearing their opinions, fears and joys about jumping is what military Chaplaincy is all about.”

“Rock, You Draw a Hell Of a Crowd”

Paratroopers, veterans and members of the Fort Bragg and Fayetteville community gathered April 20th to honor a living airborne legend.

Retired Command Sergeant Major Kenneth “Rock” Merritt, a distinguished alumni of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division was honored with a paver stone at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina.

A paver stone dedicated to Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth “Rock” Merritt is unveiled at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Merritt, a World War II 82nd Airborne Veteran of Operations Overlord and Market Garden, served over thirty years in the Army and even twice as the XVIII Airborne Corps Command Sergeant Major.

“Rock, you draw a hell of a crowd,” said Mr. Tommy Bolton, the Civilian Aid to the Secretary of the Army for North Carolina during his opening remarks. “This is indeed special. Not just for Command Sergeant Major Merritt and his family, but for all he represents.’

‘That means that place in history, when the world was at war, and the only thing that stood between freedom and the Nazis were guys like Rock who stepped forward, took the oath, withstood the training and dedicated themselves to a higher cause and the meaning of America,” continued Bolton.”

Merritt was a member of the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment when he participated in the combat jumps into Normandy during Operation Overlord and into the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden. He was personally awarded the Silver Star by General Matthew Ridgway for knocking out a Nazi machine gun nest during Operation Overlord.

“Command Sergeant Major Merritt is an exceptional example of the Greatest Generation and is still serving our Army today,” said Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Steve England. “Rock is a role model and mentor to the officers, noncommissioned officers and young paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Airborne Corps and, of course, his beloved 508th.”

Then-Corporal Kenneth “Rock” Merritt poses for a photo.

In October of 1942, Merritt saw a colorful poster while waiting to talk to a Marine recruiting sergeant. The poster depicted a paratrooper descending to the ground with the challenge “Are You Man Enough to Fill These Boots?” emblazoned upon it. That was the beginning of his 35-year long career in the Army, 31 years of which were spent on jump status. Merritt would serve twice as the Command Sergeant Major of the XVIII ABC Corps and is an inaugural member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Hall of Fame.

“Let me say, without any reservations, this is the greatest honor that I have ever received. In the confusion in the world going on today, we have so much to be proud and thankful for. Number one, our armed forces today are led by the best trained, best equipped, best educated officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers that the Army has ever had,” said Merritt. “Number two, we live in the best country in the world, the United States of America. Last, but certainly not least, we’ve been able to have two hundred and forty some odd years with our freedom all due to soldiers like you standing here today.”

Merrit occasionally visits the 1-508th PIR and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division headquarters on Fort Bragg to speak with paratroopers and give them perspective on the foundations of the Army Airborne community.

“Command Sergeant Major Merritt is a national treasure and a living legend. When he visits the Panther Brigade on Fort Bragg, paratroopers have the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of the 82nd’s baptism by fire in the skies and on the ground during World War II,” said. Col. Gregory Beaudoin, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “The honor he received today at the ASOM ensures generations of paratroopers to come will know about the valor and heritage of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment,” continued Beaudoin.