News: The 82nd celebrates All American Week
Story by Sgt. James Wilt
FORT BRAGG, N.C. " Pike Field was a sea of maroon berets today as the 82nd Airborne Division held a Division Review on the fourth day of All-American Week.
Secretary of the Army Dr. Francis J. Harvey was the reviewing officer and Maj. Gen. David M. Rodriguez was the hosting officer at the ceremony, where more than 12,000 paratroopers stood in formation.
"Distinguished guestsâ?¦past, present, and future paratroopers, glider riders and pilots, family and friends of the All-American Division, thank you for attending today's Division Review and helping us celebrate the division's rich history during All-American Week," Rodriguez said in his opening remarks.
As the six brigades of paratroopers stood unwavering in formation, Rodriguez, the division commander, noted the symbolic representation of the paratroopers standing on Pike Field in front of friends, family and veterans of the 82nd.
"The formation to your front looks outstanding. It is representative of the thousands of paratroopers who have served and continue to serve with distinction as America's Guard of Honor," he said.
"We are blessed to be among America's finest son and daughters, the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division. Our nation is very fortune that they selflessly serve and we are extremely grateful for the thousands of family members that support them," Rodriguez added
Harvey marked the day as "a great day for all of us with the opportunity to honor our troopers both past and present."
He went on to say, "There is no place I would rather be today than with the troopers and the families of the 82nd Airborne Division"
The Division Review is part of the All-American Week celebration which is held on Fort Bragg to honor the paratroopers of today as well as paratroopers from yesteryear.
It is a week-long event where troopers are given the opportunity to compete in athletics, interact with veterans and show their unit pride.
"The tradition of All-American Week, a celebration in this division's rich history, lineage and honors, is important and it provides a link between troopers of the past and present," Harvey said.
The week was kicked-off with a Division Run. A formation of more than 12,000 paratroopers made the traditional four-mile run, which marks the beginning of the festivities.
At the review, Harvey took the time to thank the men and women of the division for their efforts during the Global War on Terrorism.
"Since 9-11, troopers from this division and their supporting units have gone to battle in both Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. "Not only have you been courageous and relentless in combat, you have truly represented the values of America, as you assisted the people of both Afghanistan and Iraq in stabilizing and securing their countries."
The 82nd Abn. Div.'s operations following hurricanes Katrina and Rita were also highlighted by Harvey.
"This is a true case of the All-American Division directly helping Americans in their hour of need and once again answering the call of duty, the call to service."
After New Orleans was devastated by Katrina, elements of the division were deployed to the stricken city within six hours of notification to provide humanitarian assistance surpassing the 82nd's ability to be wheels-up and in flight within 18 hours of notification.
The Division Review honored the paratroopers who train, fight and sacrifice 365 days of the year.
"Whether in tough, realistic training or in combat, whether operating in foul weather, in harsh terrain or standing by on alert to execute any mission, anywhere in the world in defense of liberty, no matter the time, the place or the difficulty, our country's leaders know that you will always, and I mean always, accomplish the mission," Harvey said.