Story by: Chief Warrant Officer Two Janet Schmelzer
Posted: September 13, 2015
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Re-enactors honor the selfless service of active duty soldiers, veterans, and fallen heroes of the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard in many ways.
Five re-enactors are Texas State Guard soldiers who, as civilians, have chosen a very memorable way to pay tribute.
They are civilian parachute jumpers and re-enactors.
Those five re-enactors are 1st Lt. Leland Burns and Senior Master Sgt. Denny Darnell, 4th Air Wing, Air Component Command, Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Wood, Engineering Group, Staff Sgt. Gary Bostic and Sgt. Kyle Clark, 4th Regiment, Army Component Command.
They are members of the Liberty Jump Team, which performs static line parachute jumps from an actual C-47 aircraft used on D-Day, just as soldiers did in World War II.
The jumpers wear authentic World War II paratrooper uniforms. The Liberty Jump Team consists of 70 members who are active-duty, retired, and reserve United States and foreign military members.
"My father, a World War II veteran of the Okinawa campaign," commented Clark, "was only 18 years old and he believed that the service of United States soldiers was a job that needed to be done."
"I am honored to be able to pay tribute to the bravery, self-sacrifice, and heroism of the American soldier who fought to preserve our freedoms."
On the 71st anniversary of the Normandy invasion during World War II, Senior Master Sgt. Darnell and Sgt. Clark honored the 24,000 Normandy Allied paratroopers by re-enacting the June 1944 parachute jumps from a C-47 aircraft over Amfreville, Graignes, and La Fiere-Merderet River, France, June 2-7, 2015.
The final jump for this anniversary commemoration was performed by jumping from a C-47 over the "The Airborne Trooper," a statue of a World War II 82nd Airborne, United States Army paratrooper overlooking the Merderet River from the La Fiere Bridge, Normandy, France. Four C-130 aircrafts with over two hundred paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne, United States Army, also participated in this event.
On the other side of the Atlantic on the 75th anniversary of the first Army Airborne Infantry platoon jump in 1940, Bostic, along with eleven members of the Liberty Jump Team, jumped with almost 300 United States Army paratroopers at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, Georgia, August 15, 2015.
The Liberty Team, wearing the uniforms of World War II paratroopers, jumped from a C-47, just like the Army Airborne paratroopers of World War II.
"I am honored to be here to pay tribute to the Army Airborne paratroopers who gave selfless service during World War II," commented Bostic.
"They were fearless soldiers who jumped into dangerous battle zones to help win World War II."
The first Army Airborne Infantry platoon was organized with 40 soldiers from the 29th Infantry located at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1940. This platoon made the first jump as paratroopers in the United States Army, at Lawson Army Airfield, Fort Benning, August 16, 1940.
The first platoon mass jump occurred at Fort Benning, August 29, 1940.