Local News

Bragg troops prepared for inauguration performance

Posted January 15, 2009 5:01 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Soldiers spend many hours on the parade field at Fort Bragg, honing their marching skills for one ceremony or another. But the members of one 82nd Airborne Division regiment practiced Thursday for their biggest mission yet.

More than 90 soldiers with the 1st battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, known as the Red Devils, will be part of "America's Guard of Honor" in President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade next week.

"It's a new echelon above what we've ever done before, so this one is going to be top-notch," Sgt. First Class Gary Wilson said.

The Red Devils said they're excited about participating in Obama's historic inauguration as the nation's first African-American president, and they want their part to be flawless.

Marching and saluting in formation isn't as easy as it looks, especially on a worldwide stage with their new commander-in-chief watching. They plan to head to Washington, D.C., on Sunday and rehearse again Monday before Tuesday afternoon's parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.

"I'll be right out there in front. I'll look him in the eye, and I'll give the 'All the Way' (catchphrase of the) 82nd Airborne so he knows who we are," Capt. Scott McKay said.

"It's our commander-in-chief," Wilson said. "Ultimately, what he says goes, and we are ... a tool in his toolbox he can use. So, it's an honor to be up there right next to him and march for him."