The Panther Brigade celebrated over 200 years of combined Active-Duty Service by hosting the 82nd Airborne Division Retirement Ceremony Wednesday, July 26th.
The nine All Americans recognized for their service will go on to the next chapters of their lives and we are grateful for their service to our nation.
In particular, we celebrated the retirement of Command Sgt. Maj. Lenard Summers, former Gator 9 of the 82nd Brigade Support Battalion! Here, he stands with his wife and son, Staff Sgt. Cardia Summers, a squad leader in the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Summers retired after a total of 32 years of active duty service, 13 years of it with the 82nd Airborne Division.
An 82nd Airborne Division legend was recently laid to rest.
The life, valor and accomplishments of retired Army 1st Sgt. Harold Eatman were celebrated during his funeral services held July 11 at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Charlotte, North Carolina. Eatman died in the first week of July 2018 at the age of 102.
“Today we celebrate the life and remember a true hero and we pray he is soon welcomed into the arms of our heavenly Father,” said Fr. Christopher Roux, the Pastor of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral during Eatman’s funeral service.
Eatman was a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and participated in the regiment’s four combat jumps into Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland during World War II. He volunteered for the Army in early 1942 after learning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and served his first tour of duty in Hawaii. There, he reenlisted to join the newly forming paratroop units and was assigned to the 505th PIR.
“Paratroopers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team follow in the footsteps of legends like 1st Sgt. Eatman,” said Col. Arthur Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the parent unit of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 505th PIR. “Men and women of the Panther Brigade proudly carry on his legacy by remaining ready to answer our nation’s call to jump, fight and win on any drop zone in the world.”
In 2015, Eatman and six other WWII veterans received the French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration bestowed in France. He was also the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.
“Greater love has no man, that he would lay down his life and he [Eatman] was willing to do it,” said Roux, quoting a passage from the Bible. “Our country recognizes him as a hero and I suspect heaven recognizes him as a hero, too, because he lived those words of sacred scripture.”