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Soldiers, veterans at Fort Bragg celebrate friendship, family and service

Posted May 22

— A group of paratroopers are celebrating their heritage with family and friends on Monday ahead of their journey to Afghanistan in June.

All American Week is a week-long celebration of the 82nd Airborne Division's legacy and mission, and it's also a chance to honor and remember veterans.

The event began on Monday with the "division run," a trek involving 15,000 paratroopers pounding the pavement on Longstreet Road.

The formation was led by the unit commander, Major General Erik Kurilla.

All American Week

"Oh, they're paratroopers and they just love PT (physical training)," said Kurilla. "There's no other way we'd want to start the day than in the rain and running."

Dozens of other sporting events will lead up to the Memorial Day celebration, including softball, boxing and football. In addition to all the excitement, older soldiers will also return to Fort Bragg this week for the All American Week festivities.

All American Week

Rich Becker, one of the returning veterans, served the 82nd Airborne back in 1956. He spent Monday's division run slapping high-fives and supporting the troops who filled his shoes and fight a different kind of enemy than he faced.

"It has to be much more difficult not knowing who your enemy is," said Becker. "They're not wearing the uniform of some country -- they're just wearing clothing. It's a different world."

General Kurilla agrees, stating that 1,500 members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team will head to Afghanistan next month to continue the fight against terrorism in America's longest war.

"They'll be going there advising and assisting our Afghan partners who have taken the lead over there," he said. "It's a fight."

You can learn more about All American Week on the event's website.

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