79th U.S. Airborne Birthday

16 August,  National Airborne Day

The history of United States Airborne Forces did not begin on the training fields of Fort Benning, Georgia, as some believe. In fact, the origin of Airborne Forces in the U.S. military began with a familiar name to American military history, Brigadier General William L. “Billy” Mitchel (1879-1936).

As well as being considered the spiritual father of the United States Air Force, which he advocated for fiercely during his tenure in the military, BG Mitchell was the first to imagine airborne tactics and sought the creation of U.S. Airborne Forces.

BGeneral Billy Mitchell, the father of the U.S. Airborne


It is not recorded exactly when he organized a demonstration of Airborne Infantry for U.S., Russian and German observers. However, according to records
 at Ft. Benning, Georgia, it is confirmed that BG Mitchell held the demonstration “shortly after World War I” at Kelly Field, in San Antonio, Texas. During the demonstration, six soldiers parachuted from a Martin Bomber. After landing safely, the soldiers assembled their weapons and were ready for action in less than three minutes after they exited the aircraft.

11th Airborne Division, 1943 Yearbook

Reprinted and broadcast countless times, High Flight is regarded as one of the world’s great war poems and the greatest anthem of aviation. It is the official poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. First year cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy are required to memorize it. Extracts have been quoted in a variety of occasions. The most famous example occurred on Jan. 28, 1986, when President Ronald Reagan, speaking of the Challenger, Space Shuttle disaster, closed his address with the sentence: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’”

11th A/B trooper Wiiliam Carlisle on the cover of “Yank”

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

of sun-split clouds, – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air . . .

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark nor even eagle flew –

And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

                                     – Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

11th Airborne Division Chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military (Airborne) Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATTA BOY!!

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Astin – Mise, MS; US Army, MSgt. # 39111 (Ret. 21 y.), 82nd & 101st Airborne, 187th RCT Airborne

Ronald Boyd Sr. – Massillon, OH; US Army, 82nd Airborne Division, Green Beret

Booby Frier – Lubbock, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

James Glidewell – Springfield, MO; US Army, Korea, MSgt. 187th Regimental Combat Team Airborne

William Herring  – Woodville, FL; US Army, 173rd Airborne Division

Scott A. Koppenhafer – Mancos, CO; USMC, Iraq, GySgt., Force Recon Marines, KIA

Frank Krhovsky – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Archie McInnes (100) – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 601 & 238 Squadrons, pilot

Michael Wood – ID; US Army, MSgt., 7th Special Forces, Afghanistan / FBI

Thomas Yarborough – Jacksonville, FL; US Army, Korea, 187th Regimental Combat Team Airborne

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 15, 2019, in Current News, Korean War, Vietnam, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 103 Comments.

  1. That is a very beautiful, moving poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, GP for your moving post. I didn’t know this beautiful poem; greatly appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy birthday!

    You would know, gpcox… What’s the story behind this gathering? Loved the old ver and his cigar… but all I know the song/words originated with the English?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Respect voor wat deze mannen dedenb en ook dankbaar

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Happy belated Birthday to 79th Airborne! Very powerful poem, GP – thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always thought these gliders did a once-off, one way trip, but I see it wasn’t so!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The cartoon about the “5th point of performance: land” is so much fun. It reminds me of an airshow that I went to years ago that included people parachuting into a circle marked on the ground. As each person landed, the announcer said, “It’s a dead center, standup, tip-toe landing.”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on John's Notes and commented:
    I think this deserves to be reblogged. I missed it on the 16th because it ended up in my Junk folder.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “High Flight” is a long-time favorite of mine. Thank you for the history of the Airborne Forces, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know how popular High Flight is – and deserves to be – but still there are those who have never read it through I’m afraid. Hopefully they’ll find it here!!

      Like

  10. “5 points of performance—Land” … you’ve combined theory and practise in a way very few ever do. (This should be posted everywhere that theory becomes fact; and the poem is an inspiration that surely breaches boundaries everywhere. (WW2 spitfire pilot, I believe. Sadly he didn’t make it through … but his poem is immortal.)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I was so moved by the concluding words of Reagan’s comments after the Challenger disaster, but I confess I had no idea they were a reference to that poem. I’m glad now to have read the whole thing, and to have a better understanding of its context. It’s a wonderful poem. Thinking about it, I’m sure you may have referenced it before, but the details just didn’t “stick” with me. Sometimes, it takes a little repetition to truly learn something!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Happy Anniversary! Here in Germany they cant celebrate similar. Now also our government aircrafts are unwilling to get our politicans far away from us. Lol They will now buy new planes so that they can all escape together, in case of doubt.;-) Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow happy anniversary US ARMY Airborne!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Happy birthday to the Airborne!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think that I told you previously that I had had a shortened version of “High Flight” on my Dad’s gravestone. It is a wonderful poem, from a war which all the critics have declared to be devoid of any decent poets such as are found in WW1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have posted the poem before and I do believe I recall you telling me about the poem on your father’s stone. I think it’s a wonderful way to honor your father – wish i could have done something like that for mine.

      Like

  16. US Airborne! Happy Birthday to you! I, for one, am so grateful to you, and to GP for this wonderful tribute post!
    Oh, that poem always tugs on my heartstrings.
    (((HUGS)))
    PS…your humor choices brought snort-laughs! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Interesting how Ronald Reagon rephrased part of that quote for his Challenger speech.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Speech writers for the presidents can’t always be original – as JFK’s “Ask not…” speech. I think Reagan’s choice of this poem to honor the Challenger crew was a good decision.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. And a very Happy Birthday to the U.S. Airborne, GP!! Incredibly brave and amazing soldiers! I’ve always been in awe of the U.S. Airborne. Cher xo

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Happy Birthday to my Comrades, past and present. Thanks for this post, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. We must always remember that those little specks under the canopies are people, when at war, careening to an uncertain landing.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Happy Birthday to US Airborne. High Flight was a poem used to sign off the broadcasting day on many local stations. It is a beautiful poem and coupled with lovely visuals it is inspiring. Here is a clip from a broadcast sign off in the 60s https://youtu.be/sGj6deaINxM Super post, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. They jumped – often at night – behind enemy lines – under fire. – not really knowing where they might land – and then fought. And died. So that we can have freedom. Raise that banner high.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. That was interesting. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Again, things I didn’t know. Danke Schorn!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I love that poem and once calligraphed it, it’s still hung on our wall. Fab post as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ah GP! I never fail to learn something here. I’ve read a lot of war poetry but never came across “High Flight.” All these years I thought Reagans’ speech writers crafted those lines…! Many thanks and congrats to the A/B. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. One of my favorite poems, there at the end, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Salute to the U.S. Airbornne! They are the most elite group in the Armed Forces! Love the cartoons. I just finished The Rising Tide where the paratroopers jumped at night with the 35 miles wind near Sicily with all that gear on their back. I have great admiration for them!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That was a rough jump!! Eisenhower nearly squashed the idea of a paratrooper unit in division size because of that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That was suicidal! Fifteen miles per hour wind was the limit, the maximum wind speed for a safe jump!! I prayed for those boys and getting mad at Marshall. But order was order and the paratroopers performed their job. Some made it, some did not. Salute to the U.S. Airborne!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Very interesting post, GP, enjoyed learning about the beginning machinations of the U.S. Airborne. Also appreciated seeing all the words of “High Flight” and some of its background.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Happy Birthday …. Airborne!

    Interesting how things change. I was talking to a younger veteran at the local Ingles and learned that the 101st in now back to being an Airborne Division. It was Airborne during WWII, was Air Assault during Vietnam and when I was with the 1/501st. Look like they’ve gone full circle!

    Liked by 2 people

  31. I’d never seen the whole poem. Just lovely. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I always wished I could write a poem as beautiful as this one. (Often attempted, never succeeded). Great post, GP. I”ve reblogged this on eQuips.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. My model of the 1920 Mitchell bomber is my favorite.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. You never fail to come up with something that knocks the wind out of me on occasion. Great poem! And thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Thanks for celebrating such a wonderful service. The insight and imagination necessary to envision airborne tactics was an incredible gift. I’m glad Billy was on our side.

    I love the cartoons about jumping. The value of humor is underrated.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Congratulations to the US Airborne, GP. They gave such courageous service in WW2, and so many sacrificed their lives during that conflict. A great tradition of brave soldiers lives on!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Thank you for sharing this date with your readers. This means a lot to me.

    Like

  38. Thank you very much!!

    Like

  39. Thank you for sharing this post.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Happy 79th Birthday U. S. Airborne August 16, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  2. Pingback: 79th U.S. Airborne Birthday — Pacific Paratrooper – Fly 'n Things

  3. Pingback: 79th U.S. Airborne Birthday – e-Quips

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