FORT BENNING, Ga. --
Reserve C-17 aircrews from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., took part in the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Army Airborne School here by dropping a group of Army paratroopers over Lawson Army Airfield.
Aircrews from the 701st and 300th Airlift Squadron flew two C-17s during Fort Benning’s Aug. 15 celebration to delivery some of the more than 300 paratroopers who jumped onto the drop zone. Paratroopers also jumped from a C-130H from the 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, and two Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Pathfinder School at Fort Benning.
Appropriately, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain -- the paratrooper delivery vehicle of choice during World War II -- kicked off the event by dropping the Liberty Jump Team, a group of 18 civilian World War II airborne reenactors who descended over the drop zone.
The team members wore WWII uniforms and equipment including Normandy D-Day M1942 jump suits and M1C steel helmets, representing paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions.
The mission brought back vivid memories for Master Sgt. Al Larson, 701st AS C-17 loadmaster. Before donning an Air Force flight suit, he too wore the uniform of an Army paratrooper.
“I started with the Army in 1983 at Fort Benning. Being part of the 75th Anniversary of the Airborne School 32 years later is really awesome,” said Larson.
“I know what these Soldiers go through and they have my utmost respect,” continued Larson. “I can still feel the adrenaline you get each time you prepare to jump, and on days like today, it takes everything inside of me from going out that door with them.”
On the same jet, in the pilot’s seat was Lt. Col. John Robinson, 315th Operations Group deputy commander, who has 1,050 jumps and 12 hours of freefall time as a civilian.
Although Robinson may not have any military jump experience, he definitely knows the adrenaline rush of stepping out of a “perfectly good airplane” with a parachute strapped to his back. As a pilot, he has dropped more than 20,000 troops on their first jump.
“It's great to be a part of the 75 years of Airborne operations celebration and fly in the same operation with the C-47,” said Robinson. “I've got a lot of jumps out of the C-47 as a civilian and there is always a sense of excitement and accomplishment that goes with each jump.”