Fort Bragg paratroopers and residents of South Carolina gathered in Camden, South Carolina on Thursday, March 29 to commemorate an event proving the 82nd Airborne was a viable concept in battle.
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and Kershaw County residents celebrated the 75th anniversary of the first mass parachute drop, an event largely seen as the proof-of-concept of large scale parachute operations in World War II.
The original jump occurred Monday, March 29th, 1943 and involved the entire 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment along with elements of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Led by then-Col. James Gavin, the paratroopers jumped from more than 120 C-47 aircraft before assaulting a nearby bridge over the Wateree River.
“The training exercise not only proved mass-tactical parachute operations were feasible and could be successful, it provided the men of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment valuable training before they departed the United States for the European Theater where they would conduct four Regimental-sized combat jumps; Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland,” said Col. Gregory Beaudoin, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
A ceremony including a wreath-laying by members of the community commemorated the event which also honored WWII veterans present and their family members.